I’ve just returned from a quickie trip to the far north coast of NSW. There are two types of people in this world – you are either a north coast or a south coast person. I thought I was firmly entrenched in the south coast camp – but after this trip, I may be turning.
Here are the north coast towns I love:
Maclean – top of the list for me, and at only 18 kilometres inland and with river views I think it qualifies. What do I love? The winding main street, the Queenslander houses, the mix of real working town and tourist town, the river which flows at a steady clip to the sea at Yamba and incongruous mix of Scottish regalia and heat and cicadas. And, I know they are a local menace, but the bat colony adds a vampire element to town, something every town needs. There’s a wonderful dreamy feeling about Maclean, it’s the kind of place you wish you’d grown up in. Actually – a coming of age film set in Maclean with a vampire undercurrent – now that’s a film I’d like to see.
Yamba – what’s not to love about Yamba? Apart from the nagging feeling that it will become a victim of its own popularity, and development will take over, it’s just about perfect. Again, thanks to town planning 30 years ago when public parks, tennis courts and bowling clubs got the best views, it’s a textbook Aussie beach town that mostly exists in textbooks these days. The cinema is a real cutey pie too, and I love that despite its creeping hipness, the fish co-op still serves the best meal.
Grafton – haven’t spent a lot of time here, but I like what I see. Queenslanders, lasiandras and an historical core. And it’s a real working town – Grafton doesn’t need to impress anyone. And that’s part of its appeal.
Murwillumbah – I’ve always liked Murwillumbah. Plonked (nestled as travel writers would say – I mean who uses “nestled” in real life?) between Mt Warning and the ocean, it is a hugely likeable sugar cane service town. This is a poseur free zone – a rarity so close to Byron. Instead it offers swathes of pubs, heat, cicadas, Queenslander houses, sweat and the odd fabulous cafe.