Exploring our cultural stories and heritage

Explore the rich aboriginal heritage of the Coffs Coast, and more recent timber and gold mining stories

We have over 25 trails that explore our cultural history. See our handy map below which shows the location of some heritage sites on the Coffs Coast and the escarpment beyond. How well do you know the stories of the Coffs Coast?

Goanna sculpture on the Gumgali Track

Gumbaynggirr Country

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land that we live and walk on, the Gumbaynggirr people, and pay our respects to Elders past and present. The First Nations of Australia have been caring for Country for thousands of years.

Visit Yarrawarra Cultural Centre where there is a cafe and gallery, and take the excellent Bush Tucker Tour to No Mans Land and Pipeclay lagoon. Closer to Coffs, you can also experience Gumbaynggirr culture and listen to language on the Gumgali Track.

Muttonbird Island is a significant cultural site known as Giidany Miirlarl, moon place. Look at Me Now headland near Emerald Beach is another special site. Walk the Red Rock to Woolgoolga section of the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk to see the ancient fish traps at Arrawarra.

South of Coffs, experience Gaagal Wanggaan and read the stories of the Koala Brothers on the Goanna Trail at Scotts Head. A delightful artwork at the picnic area on Way Way Rainforest trail tells of the koala rolling down the mountain.

North of the Coffs Coast, Yuraygir Coastal Walk explores Yaegl Country.

Tree canopy in Bruxner Park Flora Reserve near Sealy Lookout, Coffs Harbour

Red gold

Timber-getters seeking red cedar pushed into the rivers and forests of the region in the mid 1800s. Tramways took wood from the Bruxner Park Flora Reserve to mills, and you can also follow some of the old Woolgoolga Tramway Trail. Coffs Jetty was built to ship timber, and the Woolgoolga Heritage Walk also acknowledges that towns timber history.

Syndicate Track near Bellingen is an interesting story, with some rusty remnants in the forest. Ferny Face was a timber chute in the early days of logging the plateau. You can see red cedar today at Cedar Park, Ngambaa Nature Reserve.

Many of our walks are in State Forests, where logging of plantation and native forest has taken place for over a century. The Moonpar Forest Drive explores some of this history at Norm Jolly forestry site, Cascade and the Box Ridge Track.

Early activists against logging old growth forest were successful in protecting old growth forest in places such as Chaelundi, and activism continues today in Newry State Forest, Tarkeeth, and the Kalang.

Wedding Bells (Lady Helen) mine shaft

Mines

One of the earliest gold mining areas was at Dalmorton, on the old Grafton to Glen Innes Road.

The historic Orara gold fields boomed briefly after the discovery of gold in 1881. Nana Creek village was established near the Mathilda mine, but the Coramba King mine was more profitable. Other mines include Beacon near Lower Bucca, Evening Star near Star Creek, and Lady Helen in Wedding Bells SF.

Besides gold, other mines in the area include antinomy (see the rehabilitated Urunga wetlands), tin (on the World Heritage Walk, for example) and more recently sand mining at Moonee and other places along the coast.

Bush Carpentry Green Gully Track

Bushrangers and pastoralists

All good Australian stories include a bushranger or two. Tommys Lookout high above the Mann River is named for Tommy Macpherson, and aboriginal stockman, bushranger and gold digger. Up on the plateau beyond Glen Innes, Thunderbolts Lookout track climbs a granite tor supposedly favoured by the famous bushranger Captain Thunderbolt.

By the early 1900s, gold have been replaced by a desire for green pastures for dairy cows, and other agricultural endeavours. Green Gully Track is an iconic multi day walk through tough cattle country that is now national park, while West Kunderang still operates as a farm in the Macleay River gorges.

Yooroonah Tank Trap along Waterfall Way

Bridges, lighthouses, tank traps

There is no shortage of interesting built things to look at in the region. Ride the Clarence ferries, walk across the old and new Grafton bridges, follow the old Grafton to Glen Innes Road across old Bawdens bridge and through the Dalmorton tunnel, or head upriver to see a variety of Clarence river crossings.

Find an old quarry at Glenugie Peak, and remnants of the Glenreagh to Dorrigo railway line on the Dorrigo Plateau. Find at shipwreck at Woolgoolga, and learn the early history of Solitary Island lighthouse signallers on Dammerals history walk. See more maritime history at South West Rocks and the lighthouse at Smoky Cape (and a gaol).

Maybe you can find the tank traps near Point Lookout or at Paddys Flat (upper Clarence). And then there is the site that commemorates the thing that didn’t get built – Mulligans grand dream of hydro electric power on Dandahra Creek.

Coffs Harbour Street Art - Rainforest scene

Towns and public art

Many towns in this region have heritage walk, such as Woolgoolga on the Coffs Coast. In the Clarence Valley wander around Grafton town to enjoy the jacarandas, and the Grafton Bridges loop. We enjoyed our walk in South West Rocks around Horseshoe Bay to the Macleay breakwaters, as well as the lighthouse and Gaol heritage on the Smoky Cape to Trial Bay walk.

If town buildings aren’t your thing, see if you can find all the public art on Coffs Creek and enjoy the colourful street art in Coffs Harbour centre. There are lots of mosaics to see on the trails around the region, or take a 4WD trip to the quirky Keyman Statue.

Map of interesting sites

You may also like these

Author

Share this

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print

Share your comments