North Coast, NSW

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Malcolm Street


Take your time and side step off the highway to truly explore New South Wales’ north coast.

North Coast NSW

In some ways, the northern coast of New South Wales is overshadowed by the glamour of Queensland’s Gold and Sunshine coasts, but I suspected the area had plenty to offer. In order to confirm my suspicions, I borrowed an Integrity Lite Supreme motorhome from Paradise Motor Homes and spent several days travelling north from The Entrance to Tweed Heads, enjoying the sights along the way.

THE ENTRANCE

For no reason other than I have not been there for at least 20 years, I started my travels at The Entrance on the New South Wales central coast. The last time I was there, it was a pretty tired-looking town but I am pleased to report that has changed. I had a pleasant time enjoying a coffee by the water while watching the pelicans roosting on a sandbar. As anyone familiar with this area will know, there’s a special area devoted to pelican feeding, which happens at 3.30pm every day and draws quite a crowd!

The Entrance is quite busy with limited RV parking, but for those wanting to park close to town, there are some quieter areas just over the bridge.

Heading north, I made my way through the central coast towns of Toukley, Budgewoi and Lake Munmorah and up the eastern side of Lake Macquarie. There are about four lakes quite close together here, so boating and fishing are popular activities. Aside from tourist attractions, the Belmont area has a number of RV dealers in the immediate vicinity, so it’s possible to check out the latest and greatest while you’re in the area.

North Coast NSW 1

THE LAKES WAY

Back on the motorway, a nice little diversion just north of Newcastle is into the Nelson Bay area on the south side of Port Stephens and then to Tea Gardens and Hawkes Nest to the north. It’s a charming area if you have a week to spare. Not so in my case, unfortunately!

My next little side trip was along the aptly named Lakes Way, which passes the Myall, Smiths and Wallis lakes, following a skinny peninsula through the Booti Booti National Park (NP) to Forster. There are lots of beaches and opportunities for bushwalking in the national parks around here. Keen photographers will find plenty of nice scenery, too, especially around the lakes, which are particularly lovely during the magic hours of the early morning and late afternoon/evening.

North Coast NSW 2

EMERALD BEACH

After having delayed too long over lunch, I was late arriving at my overnight stop at the Discovery Parks - Emerald Beach. The closing time was 6pm but a quick phone call ensured a key and boom gate access was left out for me. Some careful manoeuvering is required to get across a bridge and through the boom gate but, once through, it’s a great caravan park.

The park is right next to the beach, although it isn’t immediately obvious as there’s a screen of trees separating it. It was a great spot for an early morning walk and I made friends with the resident kangaroo along the way.

NORTHERN RIVERS

Not long after Emerald Beach, the Pacific Highway swings inland through Grafton (known for its jacaranda trees), then back toward the coast where the Clarence River meets the sea, bookended by the towns of Iluka and Yamba. This is the start of the aptly named Northern Rivers area and a bit further north, the construction zone that the Pacific Highway currently seems to be morphs into the Pacific Motorway.

North Coast NSW 3

AT THE BORDER

From Byron Bay, it’s a quick zoom to the border towns of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. This is a busy area, but if you fancy something a little quieter there are a few caravan parks along the coastal road between Kingscliff and Pottsville to the south. One of my favourites is the BIG4 North Star at Hastings Point. It has all the usual facilities but there’s also a fascinating Marine Environment Museum and if you have ever dreamed of running a caravan park, proprietor Ian Beadel runs a fully-accredited caravan park training school.

The Tweed Heads Border Monument marked the end of my north coast travels and after my trip I decided that you could take two days, two months or two years and you still would not be able to see everything this area has to offer!