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Nambucca Heads has a Masters in relaxation

November 15, 2005
Nambucca Heads has a Masters in relaxation

Quaint, coastal Nambucca Heads started out as a ship building town and the links with the sea are everywhere. The Nambucca Mural in the centre of town dances with ocean icons.

Dolphins, an octopus and fish emerge from concrete waves in a sculpture which is among the longest in Australia. And Nambucca Heads has transformed Graffiti into an art form at the Vee Wall Breakwater, a giant outdoor gallery for graffiti artists. Visitors are encouraged to leave their messages too.

The Vee Wall is a 'must see' with some spectacular works of art. The breakwater also provides plenty of space for small boating, sail boarding, canoeing and sheltered swimming. The Nambucca Heads Shire has one of Australias few island golf courses a useful benefit in an area where the locals know how to take a relaxed approach to life.

Quirky BellingenExcellent river and beach fishing also help to ease the mind while the catch makes seafood meals in Nambucca Heads extraordinary.

The Popular clubs and sporting centres in town are; Nambucca Heads Island Golf Club, Nambucca RSL Club, Nambucca Heads Bowling and Recreation Club, Nambucca Leagues and Sports Club and Nambucca Indoor Sports Centre. Nambucca Heads is central to striking National Park scenery, exceptional beaches, and a great deal of interesting coastal and Hinterland touring.

The nearby historic 'Veranda Post Town' of Bowraville takes pride in its museums, arts and crafts. Aboriginal artists abound in the area.

A Hobie 16 surf cat puts to seaIn addition to tropical fruit plantations, forests, horse riding and pottery shops, the valley hinterland close to Macksville is home to the famous Pub with No Beer, near Taylors Arm a short drive inland from the coast. Travel west from Macksville, about 25km, through truly beautiful country and the scenery shifts to the foothills of the mountain range behind Nambucca Heads.

The Pub with No Beer is the subject of the song written by Gordon Parsons and made famous (with a number 1 hit right across Australia) by country recording star, Slim Dusty. The origins of the song are not clear, however, it is believed they came from a bush poem by Dan Sheahan that was given to Gordon.

Young beach relay runners line upHe reworked the poem and added some of the songs characters to create the now famous song. Guest can be sure that the beer flows quite well at the 'Pub' and a visit to is well worth the time. There are also picnic areas and barbecue areas.

North of Nambucca Heads, Coffs Harbour has attractions like the Big Banana and the Pet Porpoise Pool. It is also a great place for white water rafting, scuba diving and surfing.

Right behind Nambucca Heads is Bowraville. The towns name comes from the local Gumbaynggirr word bawarr, meaning 'cabbage palm'.

Families fit the sceneThe Gumbaynggirr area extends from Yarrahappini in the south, north to Grafton and west to Guyra. Information on Gumbaynggirr issues is available from the Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative (02) 6569 4294.

Sometimes referred to as the 'Veranda Post Town', because of all its old style verandah posts, Bowraville is a great place to get into early Australian history.

It was home to cedar cutters and bullockies and later became a commercial centre for the rich agricultural region surrounding the town. Such was its importance it was the centre of the Shire Council until the mid 1980's.

Fine diningArt and crafts are now features of the community and many of the older buildings have now been turned into art and craft shops like the Bank Gallery. Visit the Eliza and Joseph Newman Folk Museum and take time to look at the past history of this fascinating town. While in Bowraville, take a trip out to Dunggir National Park and enjoy the wonderful scenery of this unique National Park.

Get out of your car and walk up and down the main street of Bowraville. There are number of attractive buildings including the Bowra Hotel with its wide verandah, the Bowraville Folk Museum and particularly the attractive wooden churches at the northern end of town. The Old Bank Gallery in the main street has a fine display of local paintings and craft.

The bushwalks introduce koalasSouth of Nambucca Heads, Macksville, on the Pacific Highway, is an ideal start point for tourists visiting the Nambucca Valley. It is close to the coast allowing easy access to the wide array of beaches and fishing spots along the coastal area. 'The Pub with No Beer' (Taylors Arm) is just a short drive form Macksville. There are picnic areas and parks scattered throughout the town and district that allow for a relaxed time, particularly for families.

The Pioneer Cottage of rough-sawn timber on the outskirts of Macksville in River Street shows the typical home of the early settlers. It is quite luxurious for its period as it actually boasted a wooden floor instead of the standard earthen floor that was typical of the era. The site has a fine collection of equipment related to the horse and buggy transport of the pioneers of the day.

Forest Hinterland boardwalkThe cottage can be contacted on (02) 6568 1457. There are a number of coffee shops and clubs for that quiet drink and snack or meal.

At South West Rocks, about 3km east of the PO, is the famous Australian early history icon Trial Bay Gaol and 10km to the southeast is the Smokey Cape Lighthouse.

Right on the coast just a short drive from Macksville, Kempsey and Nambucca Heads, Scotts Head has swimming, board-riding, fishing and boating. There are many kilometres of secluded beaches.

Valla Beach, north of Nambucca Heads is a popular experience in January as visitors head for the village to take part in the annual Valla Beach Fair.

White water raftingUrunga is a little further up the coast is at the junction of the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers, as they run to their liaison with the Pacific Ocean. The township has a footbridge across the Urunga Lagoon to the mouth of the river and unspoilt beaches. It is an excellent location for canoeing as well as being a popular fishing and surfing spot.

Mylestom is a small holiday community on the northern side the Bellinger River mouth. It offers both river and ocean activities including swimming, surfing and fishing. Relatively quiet, it offers a great spot for the family to spend a relaxing time while still being within easy driving distance of Nambucca Heads, Coffs Harbour and the mountains (all within about 30 minutes). Locals refer to Mylestom as 'North Beach'.

Back in the beautiful Hinterland behind Nambucca Heads, Bellingen is a pretty village, nested in the Bellinger Valley on the banks of the Bellinger River. It is an area of alternative life styles, farming and artisans. It has a diverse and relaxed character which suits the quaintness and beauty of the village with its many heritage buildings.

Hey DadIn the late 1830's Bellingen was literally a backwater known as Boat Harbour from where precious red cedar was shipped down to the mouth of the Bellinger River in shallow draft sailing vessels. As timber getters felled the forests, farmers followed, laying the foundations of a strong agricultural industry.

As the graziers moved eastward from Armidale in search of more pastures during the 1840's, they discovered the rich volcanic soils around Ebor and Dorrigo.

The early discovery of the Dorrigo Plateau is credited to an escapee from Moron Bay Settlement, Richard Craig. The 18 year old found the area whilst on a hunting expedition. The potential he recognised was not the grazing but the red cedar and soon led others to what became known as the Don Dorrigo Scrub.

Time to be togetherDorrigo stands as the gateway to the impressive Dorrigo National Park. It is an historic town with many of the older buildings being refurbished and restored to their original appearance. Dorrigo has one of the few bakeries in Australia that still uses a wood fired oven. The local paper is still printed in the town on their own presses. It is one of the many stop over spots for those with so many activities and so much natural beauty to be explored.

Stop at Dangar Falls and Griffiths Lookout. The viewing platform and facilities are exceptional. There is also a sealed and elevated walking path to the bottom that provides a lovely walk and excellent subjects for the camera enthusiast. The Lookout (on Mountain Top Road) offers excellent views that are sometimes shrouded in mist.

The Moonpar Forest Drive to the North of Dorrigo is one of the most spectacular recreational forests in New South Wales. This includes popular camping and recreational spot, Platypus Flat, situated on the banks of the Nymboida River. Dorrigo is also renowned for its arts and crafts from woodturning to wool craft.