Our excitement at going whale watching this morning for the first time was quickly dampened when we awoke and saw the weather – cloudy and looking like rain. Realising that we had plenty of time, and locations, to take this trip we decided to postpone and check out the local sights of Coffs Harbour. First stop – confectionary outlet and manufacturer Carobana (http://www.carobana.com.au/).
Carobana is an unassuming outlet hidden away by lush tropical plants and a long driveway. At first glance when you escape the bush it appears to be quiet and perhaps not the sort of place you’d normally like to visit. But don’t let the appearance fool you. The owner and staff are all extremely friendly and instead of just stopping to buy sweets, you have the chance to watch the manufacturing process onsite as well, with today’s sugary (and I do mean sugary!) treat being honeycomb. Yes, that delicious, highly fatty ingredient in Violet Crumbles, Hokey Pokey icecream and their handmade carob coated honeycomb chunks. Not one piece of the large slabs of honeycomb goes to waste, and they are quite literally slabs – approx. 30cm x 60cm in size and quite heavy to hold. The worker actually making this liquid gold has been there for over 10 years, and states that it takes nearly 18 months to really master the art. Very friendly and informative, it was fascinating to watch it created from start to finish. To see the process in detail, visit our YouTube page to watch his demonstration.
The shop has a good range of products made onsite as well as a few new flavours to sample, including banana cream carob and lime carob. With samples of most of their products available to test (you are requested to kindly only take one sample of each if you wish to try), we finally settled on the mint chunks and carob coated dried banana, both of us agreeing that we were glad we didn’t let appearances put us off.
Next stop was The Big Banana. Situated right on the Pacific Motorway it’s something you can hardly miss, but perhaps more tailored to families with younger children. We decided against paying to go on the Plantation Tour or enter the ice-skating rink, and instead meandered through the onsite café and shop, which is full of a variety of souvenirs and knick-knacks.
Further down the highway is the Clog Barn, where you can purchase your very own pair of wooden clogs, stay onsite in the cabins or have a bite to eat in the Dutch café. Pancakes anyone? We missed the live demonstration of how this rather unique footwear is actually made, but had a lovely time strolling through the miniature Dutch village and railway. Information signs give some idea of the history of these classic buildings, and the detail included in them is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face as you imagine life hundreds of years ago. If you fancy trying on a pair of clogs but don’t want to fork out for a pair, check out the giant-sized ones by the entrance!
Lunchtime loomed and so we decided to stop by Dolphin Marine Magic down by the jetty. Their onsite café had some delicious food that we happily devoured, but it did take some time for it to be prepared so by then we had missed their last demonstration for the day and decided against the $34 entry fee. We’ll have plenty more opportunities to spot seals and dolphins on our travels, but this would be a great hands-on experience for the kids to get up close and personal with some marine life.
A quick drive by the National Marine Science Centre, just around the corner from our resort, led to disappointment with a sign confirming they were Closed for the day, despite the brochure stating they should be open at this time of year. At a cost of only $10 it would have been a slightly cheaper option to experience the marine environment from under glass enclosures. A short drive down the road however was a beautiful little cove where one family enjoyed a day in the water while another group of tourists took the opportunity to set up their tent right on the beach itself – so close in fact they had to move it back from the water’s edge in the time we were there.
By this time we felt like we had covered the main attractions in Coffs. With a large shopping centre containing all your major retailers, Event Cinemas and plenty of auto and caravan retailers within easy reach, Coffs Harbour does have a lot to offer but after discovering Corindi Beach yesterday, we definitely would have enjoyed our stay more if in accommodation right on the waterfront.