Coffs Harbour NSW

This whole Around Oz trip is two part. One is to see and explore new places, meet new people and have new experiences, and the other is to go back to my roots and rediscover places I have lived and been to before and catch up with old friends from yesteryear.

Nothing has been more of a blast than coming back to Coffs Harbour. I moved to Coffs Harbour from Warragul, Victoria at then end of 1971. I finished Primary School in Warragul and started High School in 1972 at the Coffs Harbour High School at the Jetty. My brother and I were excited to start our new life at Coffs with the promise of living so close to the beach. We both took up surfing (unsuccessfully) as soon as we could.

In 1971 the population of Coffs was about 10,000 people which swelled to about 30,000 over the January School holidays. The population in the greater Coffs Harbour area is now 85,000 without the influx of tourists. I was blown away by how much the now city has grown. It looks overgrown now. Back in the early ’70’s we used to hitch hike between the town centre “Top Town” and the jetty or out to Diggers Beach which was a favourite surfing beach. Diggers was the closest beach to The Big Banana where we often used to hang out. Fishing off the Coffs Jetty (see Bucket List #38) was a favourite pastime, especially in the first couple of years after we moved there.

As I drove around and walked the streets of the CBD, Jetty and the new (to me) Park Beach Plaza, I imagined what buildings were there nearly 50 years ago. Some old buildings are still there but most have been replaced and all with new tenants.

I caught up with a number of old friends from school and some from post school days. To be able to spend a few hours or even a few days with someone from so long ago and most without much contact in the intervening years was so special as we reminisced and really just continued our friendships from where we left off the last time we saw each other.

The family home in Nimbin Place Coffs Harbour
The Coffs Hotel. The main intersection in town. It was the only set of traffic lights in 1971. Now there are 13 sets just on the pacific highway alone.
Previously named High Street in the CBD, now Harbour Drive.
The Iconic Hoey Moey Hotel at Park Beach. Undeniably the most popular place to be in summer.
It all looks different now but this was the old Presbyterian Church which I used to attend during my school years.
The Blue building (or thereabouts) used to be the Monterey Cafe. Used to hang out there with mates playing pinball machines.
This carpark used to be at the back of the Ambulance Station where they had 3 trampolines. 15 minutes for 20cents. If no one else came to pay you could jump for hours. Used to love going here when we first moved to Coffs.
When this building was under construction I was part of a staged fight here on the 3rd floor one Saturday morning. The previous Thursday I had “stood up” to the gang “leader”. We agreed to have a fight on the Saturday. When we got there neither of us wanted to fight. Chudley, the self appointed gang leader knew he would lose face if he didn’t fight. We hatched a plan whereby I scraped my knuckles along the bricks which drew some skin and blood. We went back to the gang at The Monterey Cafe with the story that I had swung a punch, Chudley had ducked and I had hit the wall and almost broken my hand so the fight was stopped. Chudley saved face and after that he never hassled me or picked on me again.
Coffs Harbour Jetty High School where I attended from 1972 to midway through May 1976.
Jetty Post Office with High School behind. On weekends we used to often hitch hike from outside the Post Office back up to top town.
Railway bridge over Coffs Creek at Park Beach. We used to jump off the bridge into the creek. If a train came before you could climb over the top you jumped down onto the concrete pilon so you were only about 4 feet below the passing train. They only ever travelled real slow over the bridge but when you were that close to the train it felt like it was wizzing past.
Now called Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, we knew this place as The Pet Porpoise Pool.
Coffs Harbour Golf Club. We used to strip off to our undies and fish for balls in the lakes and then sell the balls to the Pro Shop. This road was also the scene of an accident when I was hit by a car while walking home from the club one night. I blame this incident for the arthritis in my knee that surfaces during winter.
Boambee Beach
Centrelink carpark. It was around here, opposite the Memorial Swimming Pool that I used to work at the Coffs Harbour Bait and Ice Shop after school and weekends weighing and packing bags of prawns and other baits from the age of about 14 to until I started full time work.
The lookout at Mutton Bird Island with Marina and Jetty in background.
Finger Limes growing at a friends property near Nana Glen.
Sunset at a friends property at Kremnos north of Coffs on the back road to Grafton.
View from cousins house on his property at Karangi. His driveway was so steep Rhonda couldn’t make it up so I had to park down the hill.
Teaspoons at Historical Museum. Every souvenir teaspoon depicts Coffs Harbour. I used to have a few of these in my 300 spoon collection back in the day.

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