COFFS HARBOUR – WONDERFUL IN WINTER
Let me introduce myself. I’m Sue, an Occupational Therapist but first and foremost a mum to 3 young children. I have a keen interest in access not only for those using wheelchairs or mobility aids, but also considering I have a toddler who is often in a pram. When choosing our mid-year holiday we wanted one that did not rely on us doing Summer activities typically based around the beach or water. Coffs Harbour was overflowing with great Winter options which I’d love to share with you.
Dolphin Marine Magic
Also known as The Pet Porpoise Pool, this is the place to tick off items on your bucket list. Where else in one place can you kiss sea animals, feed them and watch a show? In terms of general access there are a few ramps around including up to the show area. Keep in mind that most pools are above-ground and at least a metre high to see over. Some areas are only accessible via a flight of stairs. There are disabled toilets.
To kiss a dolphin, staff have trained the dolphins to reach down over the high-edged pool to kiss anyone sitting in a chair. It is easy to smell the seal’s fishy breath as it sits on a bench and gets up close for its kiss.
To watch the marine discovery presentation there is grandstand seating. There are large steps to go up the grandstand. It is not possible to stay on the ground level to watch the show in front of the seating. We were instructed to leave the pram away from the area when the show was on. After the show there is an opportunity to feed the seal, and also rub the belly of the dolphins.
Due to the above-ground pools, feeding the fish and seeing the turtles are not wheelchair accessible. Feeding the cute little penguins is accessible as seen in the picture below.
– Buy your ticket online beforehand to save money.
– Check online for the daily schedule.
– Get there early for dolphin/seal kisses.
– Best photos of the kisses are usually from the professional photographer on site.
The Big Banana
A trip to Coffs isn’t complete without a trip to The Big Banana. There are several options to keep people entertained including lazer tag, ice-skating, toboganning, a water park and an educational experience about all things bananas. We rushed our children past the signs advertising those activities and chose to have a lovely morning tea in the cafe. The site is wheelchair accessible, including through the actual big banana itself (where our 3 loved playing hide n seek while we enjoyed a cuppa). The must-try food is chocolate-coated bananas.
For a beautiful view overlooking Coffs Harbour and surrounds, take the drive up to the Forest Sky Pier at Bruxner Park. We timed it with our visit to the Big Banana as they were both just north of the city centre. The drive winds through many banana plantations which the children were fascinated to see. The 21 metre long suspended walkway is completely accessible. The car park is opposite, and there are barbeques, picnic shelters and a disabled toilet close by.
Coffs Harbour Butterfly House
A wonderful place to defrost in the cold of winter is the lovely 29 degree butterfly house. Wheelchair accessible, butterflies of different size and colour fly amongst the rainforest greenery and around the little ponds/waterfalls. There are feeding platforms with nectar discs dotted around, and a section manned by staff where pupa are pinned up and new butterflies can hang to dry out their wings before they are ready to fly. There are usually around 12 species of butterflies in the house, and if you stay still enough, some may land on you.
On the property there is an outdoor maze, which is wheelchair accessible. Our children loved trying to sneak up on each other unexpectedly. With the large bathrooms, the owners have helpfully added a little incline to cover up the step, and there is a little lip up to this incline.
– Print any discount vouchers from the website, http://www.butterflyhouse.com.au/
– The butterflies are most active between 10am and 2pm
– Wear bright clothing to encourage butterflies to land on you.
The Clog Barn
This was an unexpected little gem of a place, particularly as entry is free. The model Dutch village was beautifully made (all of it by hand, and not by kit), and the children were particularly entranced by the ‘moving parts’ including 2 miniature trains (one in the shape of a clog), windmills and sawmills. There are hedges surrounding the pathways, but unless it is a child in a pram/wheelchair, then they were low enough to easily see over.
Check their website for clog demonstration times which are also free of charge (http://www.clogbarn.com.au/index.html). These demos occur in the shop which is wheelchair accessible. It was fascinating to see how clogs were made with modern machinery compared to older practices. The children thought it was funny trying on different clogs, especially as they are meant to be worn big. I did not investigate the coffee shop or adjacent accommodation, however there are options for staying overnight and using their ‘clog-shaped’ pool.
THE HONEY PLACE
Situated 25 minutes from Coffs, The Honey Place is worth a quick stop over, say if you were travelling south to Sydney. We stocked up on some delicious creamed honey and chocolate-coated honeycomb, and showed the children a working beehive. There are 2 steps to enter the shop, 1 out the back to see the beehive and fern nursery, and the toilets are not wheelchair accessible. If access proves difficult, there is a drive-through option for honey tasting and sales.
Thanks to Sue and family for sharing their experiences and photos with us. If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss out on any of our blogs head to the top right of the page and sign up to receive email alerts as they are published.