The Rover Trail 4WD track at Coffs Harbour really is one of the must do tracks for any 4WD enthusiast visiting the area. It’s a great track that gives you a little bit of everything, including very steep hill climbs and descents and lots of very deep ruts.
With these obstacles and its clay base, this isn’t the type of track you’d want to be stuck on during wet weather.
Coffs Harbour is known for its great 4WD tracks, and with names such as Morbid Trail, Commando Trail and Widow Maker, just to name a few, that tends to give you an idea of what some of the terrain might be like!
Not really sure what we were expecting with this track, but it was definitely challenging.
We both had more than capable vehicles and appropriate recovery equipment, including a winch on Mark’s 4WD, so we were prepared for whatever came our way.
It certainly wasn’t for the inexperienced 4WDer though and I wouldn’t head out there without at least one other vehicle with you.
We spent nearly the whole track with lockers on and it was slow going trying to manoeuvre around the obstacles and track building to help us through.
At times the hill climbs were near vertical and you could only see the sky – this is an interesting driving experience when you can’t see the track to know what’s coming up! This is where walking first and/or having a spotter outside the vehicle is required.
There were some serious leans due to the ruts and this was slightly concerning at times when you had a big drop off down one side and a rock wall on the other! The chance of some panel damage was definitely likely on this track, but luckily we both made it through unscathed.
The track itself isn’t very long, but due to the condition and needing to constantly stop to assess which line to take and having a spotter to guide the driver, it probably took us a few hours to complete it. We didn’t have any serious issues though, but we only had two vehicles, so do be prepared and leave plenty of time to complete this track, particularly if you have more vehicles in your group to make it through.
As we were the first ones through we realised after the fact that we don’t really have any photos of our 4WD on the track, as each time we stopped to help Mark with directions and guide him through, it was his vehicle that we were taking photos and videos of!
All up we’d describe this as a very fun, yet challenging track…highly recommended for experienced 4WD enthusiasts. A vehicle with high clearance, low range, lockers and a winch would be recommended.
We briefly mentioned the Pet Porpoise Pool (now actually known as Dolphin Marine Magic) at Coffs Harbour in our recent blog, but it’s such a unique hands on experience when you visit this place that we thought we’d share some more photos and information about it.
The Pet Porpoise Pool is the only facility in NSW which is endorsed by the government’s regulating bodies to exhibit dolphins. The thing that sets this place apart from other animal parks is that they actively engage and encourage visitors to have up close and personal interaction with the animals. Every person has the opportunity to have a dolphin or seal kiss before each show … for free (you just pay for the professional photos if you chose to purchase them). Although there is no obligation to purchase, all profits do go towards helping build and maintain new enclosures.
The park is split up into different sections as shown below. As we visited during the school holidays, they also had a reptile show at various times throughout the day, which showed and talked about various snakes, reptile advice and first aid. Believe this only runs during school holiday periods though.
Marine discovery presentation
This is the main deal, the thing you visit for! This show is interesting, entertaining and informative for children and adults alike. The dolphins and seals are the star of the show, performing tricks which showcase their natural abilities.
The Dolphin Lagoon is one of two large pools which house the dolphins. After the show you can still stay at the pool area and see the dolphins swimming around, playing with balls, jumping and spinning all by themselves, just for fun! If they come up to the edge of the pool you can pat them and even throw the ball for them, it’s amazing to have this personal interaction with the dolphins, purely on their own terms.
Seal Shores is where the Sea Lions live. Again you can sit here for ages watching the seals playing in their enclosure. These adorable little creatures are so playful!
In this area you can see various species of fish, coral and other marine animals which are found within the local Solitary Islands Marine Park area. In this area you can view the marine life from above the tank and also walk below to the underwater viewing area.
‘Plugga’ the turtle
Plugga is a Green Sea Turtle who was born in the 1990’s. When he was rescued he was about the size of a 50c coin. He had lost majority of one of his rear flippers and because of his injury he probably wouldn’t have survived in the wild, so he moved in to his new home at the Pet Porpoise Pool. He’s lived there ever since and is now a happy, much much larger, turtle!
This is home to a colony of cute little penguins and where you can sit and watch them waddling around and swimming. They also hold penguin feeding in this area.
Many of these penguins have been rescued from local beaches in the area and due to their various injuries they couldn’t be released back into the wild.
Swim with animals encounters
For an extra charge there are various different encounters where you can enter the water to pat and play with and learn about the dolphins. There are more in-depth encounters you can have where you spend a lot more time in the water. There are even ‘trainer for a day’ experiences …. this is something we’d like to do at some stage.
So yes we recommend a visit to this park if you are visiting Coffs Harbour. If you want an up close and more hands on experience then this is the place for you. Entry prices aren’t cheap, but it’s probably comparable to any other zoo or facility like this. We have thoroughly enjoyed our visits over the years and although some of the surroundings could do with an update, you can’t really fault it in any other way.
Our recent trip took us up to the north coast of NSW to a place called Urunga. Urunga is a small, relaxed waterfront town where the Bellinger and Kalang rivers meet with the ocean. It’s about 25km south of Coffs Harbour so it’s a little quieter and without all the crowds, just how we like it! Leaving early on boxing day and arriving back after the new year, it was only fitting that our years ended and started with us camping. Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come for the coming year as our intention is to get out and about more often, even if only for the odd weekend away.
We spent the week camped at the Urunga Waters Tourist Park with our mate Mark and his kids, MaryAnn and Anthony. This is an older style park, but the thing we loved about it is that it wasn’t too crowded. It’s right on the water and has its own swimming pool aswell so what more could you ask for.
We would definitely stay here again if we are in the area, maybe even take the dogs up there for a week as it’s pet friendly.
The amenities blocks are very small and they, as well as the camp kitchen could do with a little tlc and upgrade, but they did the job.
This park is perfect for the fishermen, with its own boat ramp and complete waterfront access you can be out there all day, every day.
Tuesdaywe played tourist and visited the Big Banana, Carobana and the Pet Porpoise Pool, and of course we fitted in time for a quick swim as well!
Carobana is every chocoholics dream destination! This place is full of carob based products from choc covered nuts and popcorn to rocky road, brittles and honeycomb and the best thing about this place is there are free samples!
This is a working factory and it’s in production most days and open for viewing.
The day we visited they were making honeycomb and we were invited in by the workers and they showed us how they make a batch of honeycomb from start to finish …. even including taste testing for us!
After we finished the viewing we moved on to see how they coat the honeycomb in chocolate.
The Pet Porpoise Pool is a great day out and has always been a favourite of ours over the years. If you are a fan of dolphins or have ever dreamt of kissing a sea lion or patting a dolphin, then this is the place for you! The show is what it’s all about, watching the sea lions and dolphins performing their tricks and showing off to the crowd. You can also have a photo taken kissing or feeding a sea lion, receiving a dolphin kiss or feeding a penguin.
Also, at a cost, they have more up close and personal experiences where you can actually get in the water with the animals, the kids were excited to have a dolphin experience where they were in the water patting and learning about dolphins.
The park itself isn’t all about fun and tourist visits, it does have a serious side to it and they do some amazing work rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured marine animals, before releasing them back to their natural homes. They also have a large focus on teaching people to change their behavior and views through education programs held at the park.
Wednesdaywe headed out for a day on the tracks. Coffs Harbour is known for its great 4WD tracks so we had to check them out. To start with we found a few trails that weren’t overly exciting, visually the scenery was nice, but not really anything more than a fire trail. We then headed off in search of the Rover Trail.
The GPS was set and it decided the best way to reach the track was via another track called The Morbid Trail. Now the name itself doesn’t really give you a warm fuzzy feeling does it, but we thought we’d check it out anyway. Got to the frist climb, went half way up, chickened out and reversed the whole way down! There are a few tracks up there with some interesting names ……. Morbid Trail, Commando Trail, Widow Maker ….. as we tend to like our cars and felt that we really needed them to get us home, we chose not to tackle any of these tracks!
Finally we found our way to the start of the Rover Trail. This was a great, fun track (‘fun’ isn’t exactly the word Mark would use to describe this track though!). It’s difficult in parts and you really do need a capable car and driver, but we had fun, we made it through unscathed and it’s another one we can mark off the bucket list! There will be another blog post with more photos and info on this track.
Thursdaytook us to Boambee beach. This is one of the beaches that you can 4WD on in the Coffs Harbour area. The great thing is that you don’t need a permit, although we believe there is talk of this changing in the future.
We spent a great day swimming and relaxing on the beach, as were many other people!
Fridaywas the day we took a drive along the scenic Waterfall Way, as you can imagine from the name, it takes you to waterfalls! The drive takes you through the small towns of Bellingen and Dorrigo and it’s worth a stop in these towns to have a bite to eat or a look around. The scenery on this drive is spectacular, the landscape changes from lush green countryside to rainforests and waterfalls.
First stop was Ebor Falls. Ebor Falls occur where the Guy Fawkes River plunges over two waterfalls, the upper and lower falls. This spot lends itself to some great photo opportunities. The Gumbaynggirr people traditionally called Ebor Falls ‘Martiam’, which means the great falls.
Not far from the town of Dorrigo you reach the Dangar Falls, which are just as spectacular as the Ebor Falls. The day we visited there were many people swimming below the falls which would have been great, but it was so unbelievably hot and the idea of walking up and down that hill was not appealing at all!
A quick visit to the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre on the way back gave us some more photo opportunities. There are quite a few walks you can do here, but again, with the heat it just wasn’t making for an enjoyable walking experience! Although the temperature did drop slightly once you started to head into the rainforest.
It’s worth a stop at this centre, even if only to see the suspended platform which affords views over the escarpment and into the distance.
Upon returning to Urunga we took a drive out to The Honey Place. This is quite an interesting place where you can see working beehives and taste the various honey varieties. The gift shop has numerous products for sale from t-shirts and souvenirs to honey-based body products (moisturisers and lip balms etc) and obviously the many honey varieties.
They also have an interesting documentary video running which is quite informative and the staff themselves are more than willing to teach you and answer any questions. We both learned a little about bees during our visit, yes useless information we probably didn’t need to know, but regardless, we learned something new!
Saturdaywas spent swimming at Valla Beach. This beach is great, it’s like natures own water park. There are rock pools to explore and mini swimming holes for you to sit and relax in. The tidal lagoon is great for adults and kids, the shallow waters at low tide allow little mini rapids to form and you can float down the creek to where it joins the ocean. Such a beautiful location, whether you are after a swim, a relax in the sun or a walk along the beach.
Saturday also happened to be New Years Eve and you can’t have a party without decorations! The kids and Shelly set about decorating the camp site, we had glow sticks and sparklers and lots of food and beer! We met a couple who were camping behind us and invited them over to spend NYE with us. We spent the night laughing and sharing travel stories with our new friends. They live in WA, but have been on the road travelling since March (jealous is the only word that comes to mind!).
Sunday morning Mark and the kids left early to head back to Sydney so we had the day to ourselves. With temperatures again in the mid 30’s there was no other option but to head back to the beach, so back to Valla Beach we went. And guess what ….. there were markets on, what a coincidence!
Mondaymorning started out a little overcast and drizzling with rain so we decided to head into Coffs Harbour for a look around and a bit of shopping.
After our day of wandering around we headed back to camp for a relax before deciding to go out to dinner for our last night away.
Now who says you can’t be comfortable while camping, this inflatable pink lounge was the best $20 we’ve spent! We actually had to fight to get to the lounge first it was so comfy! Nothing better after a day out than to come back to camp, grab a beer, lay down and take in the view!
For years we’ve driven through Urunga and seen the Anchors Wharf Café sitting down the side of the bridge, but we’d never visited. After seeing a photo of their seafood platters on their website, this is where George wanted to go!
Anchors Wharf Cafe & Restaurant sits right on the south bank of the Kalang River at Urunga. The views at sunset are beautiful, it really was such a nice place to spend our last night.
We couldn’t fault this restaurant, the food was delicious and the staff were friendly and attentive. They definitely didn’t skimp on food when it came to the seafood platter, it was packed with yummy fresh seafood and fruit. The prawns were huge and there were so many they didn’t even all get eaten …… anyone who knows George, knows that this would very rarely happen!