10 Must-Do Experiences On NSW's North Coast

1 April 2016
Read Time: 2.7 mins

Forget Sydney. New South Wales' North Coast is Australia's gift to travellers seeking effortless beauty amongst rainforest, beaches, and gourmet food and wine.

Culture abounds, from the talents of regional artists to hinterland vineyards and artisan markets. It's not a question of whether you should go, but rather what you should do there.

Here are 10 things to do, recommended by the people who know the North Coast best: the locals.

Coffs Harbour aerial Coffs Harbour is but a smidge of what you can see and do on the North Coast (Image: Getty)

1. Coffs Coast Arts & Culture Trail

You'll need your walking shoes for the Coffs Coast Arts & Culture Trail. This ingenious pathway is dedicated to showcasing the art and culture of the region including galleries, sculptures, coastal scenery and museums.

Although you will need a car to reach some areas, most of the trail can be walked or cycled at your leisure. So take your time soaking up the heritage of Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Dorrigo.

2. Bush Tucker With Buck

Chillingham Bush Tucker is one of Australia's best outlets dedicated to using fresh and often surprising native bush tucker in food, moisturiser, deodorant, and shampoo and conditioner.

Buck Buchanan is the local expert on all things bush tucker, and is usually on hand to show visitors around his garden full of lemon myrtle, warrigal greens and finger limes.

Pack a picnic to enjoy in Buck's Barn, an undercover barbeque area overlooking the Tweed Valley.

Lemon Myrtle Find household goods made from lemon myrtle at Chillingham Bush Tucker (Image: Getty)

3. Shopping In Kempsey

Set on the Macleay River, Kempsey has just launched its exciting Smith Street Experience, a shopping haven of independent retailers.

Take a stroll down Smith Street and you'll be able to browse a wide variety of unique handmade goods, designer labels, street-stall food, home wares and more.

4. Strawberry Picking Near Port Macquarie

Drive 10 minutes north of Port Macquarie and you'll encounter one of the North Coast's best local secrets: Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries.

Ricardoes is all about appeasing your senses, particularly taste. You're allowed to pick as many fresh strawberries as you desire, all to be eaten on the ride back!

Strawberry picking No strawberry tastes better than one plucked straight from the stem (Image: Getty)

5. Market Browsing In Bellingen

Sitting halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, Bellingen is a quaint riverside town with a welcoming community and one of Australia's biggest regional markets.

Held on the third Saturday of every month from 9am to 2.30pm, Bellingen Community Market draws a massive crowd of locals and visitors all seeking delicious regional produce, live music and artisan goods.

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4. Hastings River Wineries

Love the taste of home-grown vino? Hastings River is a 150-hectare wine-lover paradise of award-wining wineries including Sherwood Estate, Douglas Vale and Cassegrain.

Take a tour along the winery trail, which treats you to tastings of chambourcin, chardonnay, Semillon and merlot among other regional favourites. You'll also be able to indulge in gourmet cuisine and unexpected gems of local art.

Wine tasting Treat yourself to the region's best drops (Image: Getty)

7. Art Along The Tweed

From Byron Bay, hug the shores of the Tweed River and you'll discover an art scene that few areas in New South Wales can match.

Make Murwillumbah your first stop. It's home to the Tweed River Art Gallery with ever-changing exhibitions and the renowned Margaret Olley Art Centre – the biggest collection from one of Australia's most celebrated painters.

Tyalgum dishes up some splendid boutiques, while a little further on the Lismore Regional Gallery hosts interactive events and travelling galleries from Australia's best artists.

8. Arresting Scenery In Dorrigo National Park

The Dorrigo Rainforest Centre proves why many consider NSW's hinterland just as exciting as its coast. Families flock here year-round for swimming at Crystal Shower Falls and picnics with Dorrigo National Park as their backdrop.

Don't forget to stroll the Skywalk, which places you right above the rainforest canopy and unveils stunning views of nature below.

Dorrigo Rainforest Centre You're forgiven for thinking you've woken up in Heaven (Image: Getty)

9. Ellenborough Falls

About 200 metres of thundering waterfall creates one of the most memorable sights on Australia's east coast.

See Ellenborough Falls up close on a timbered walkway or take it in from afar after a 10-minute walk to The Knoll. Expect a fair amount of walking, but there are enough rest spots along the way.

10. Farming Fun At Summerland

Summerland House Farm delights children and adults with a water park, mini golf, tractor tours, museum and cafe. This family-friendly working farm is also a great place to purchase fresh macadamias and avocadoes.

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to New South Wales.

Ben Stower

I love the kind of travelling that is one part strategic planning and two parts spontaneous adventure. Whether I'm exploring my local city or a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'm always hoping to find something no one else has discovered.