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  • Rebecca Marshall

East Coast Australia Fingal Bay to Yamba

Fingal Bay -

We heard about this when chatting to a local lady in her sixties and she said her and her husband go there for the untouched natural beauty and quiet beach. My ears pricked up as soon as heard the words "untouched natural beauty" and "quiet beach". Off we went up the coast to find this little slice of Aussie paradise. Fingal bay is only 2 hours and 45 minutes North up the coast from Sydney - I'm amazed more people haven't heard of it as its so close!

On arrival, it looks very much like a sleepy retirement kind of town and there is a small pathway to the sea. You then reach the turquoise - un touched natural beauty the local lady was on about. Rolling clear waters with a stunning sand spit out on to another small kind of island, no litter and rubbish anywhere, no ugly man made signs and work out benches...its all just natural and strikingly beautiful because of that. I've never seen a beach like it anywhere, we lost hours lying on that beach dipping in and out of the ocean, with not another person in sight.

Selfishly I was half tempted to leave telling you about Fingal Bay out of my blog so I could keep that dreamy place to myself...but that wouldn't be very nice would it!

South West Rocks -

My second favourite place up the east coast was a holiday town called South West Rocks. There is an ace spot (as you can see in my above photo) to camp near the castle and it has hot showers you can use for 20cents. Kangaroos hop around you in the morning - giving a brit abroad a 'classic' Australian experience. Don't feed or pet them though - the teenage roo's can get real feisty and this upsets the locals.

Malt and Honey Cafe do a incredible breakfast and smashing coffee - and there is another place along the road from there called Sixty Degrees that do a beautiful fresh seafood platter for dinner.

There are stunning beaches around South West rocks, some you need a 4 x 4 to get to and some local knowledge others are accessible on foot. Go and walk up to the lighthouse whilst you are there, it is a beautiful viewpoint. To the left of the Lighthouse - you can walk down through some bush onto a very empty, beautiful beach. (Just watch out for the spiders on your way down!) A lot of young aussies come to South West Rocks for surfing as there seems to be pretty medium sized, consistent waves that aren't too dumpy.

Forster -

Cute fishing and holiday resort town. Great for young families and for some chill time. Beautiful still lakes around that are superb for SUP boarding and swimming in for a cool down from the heat in the height of summer. Fisherman seem to be into this place too. I stayed in a holiday park camping ground here and it was hilarious. The sound of the fruit bats at night is like a horror movie and the size of them is enough to give any one a fright! So if you're camping in a tent / roof tent - my advice would be not to camp under a fruit tree or to close to one.


Bellingen is like no other inland town I've ever visited. If you fancy something a bit 'different' and a change of scenery by going in land then Bellingen is where its at! Its like all of Australias hippies have gravitated to this one small town. The town has a giant allotment that is totally free to 'help yourself' to any veggies or fruits you want as long as you do a bit of weeding in it. They all so have bee hives there - that if you're brave enough, you can help yourself to honey too! Every cafe and restaurant in town only uses fresh local ingredients - this is a great spot for vegans and vegetarians.

You can do some kayaking / canoeing down the rivers here which is cool as something a bit different to do but Its nothing 'spectacular'. As you walk around town you will see a lot of tie dye, dreadlocks and hippies offspring running around bare foot completely care free - its a great experience just being there and everyone in the town is very friendly and welcoming.

From Bellingen you can drive up to the Dorrigo National Park, The promised Land and the Never Never Forest. This place is awesome to see. Great trails for hiking or trail running and beautiful waterfalls to swim in. Dorrigo National Park is worth the visit to walk around the forests and to do the sky walk for views over the forests.


Yamba is a cool town to chill out in and walk around, there are several inlets around it for surfing and body boarding if thats your thing to. Its the bigger more touristy place we went to on our route - but great for getting some laundry and life admin done! Plenty of nice breakfast spots and an array of different restaurants. Pacific Hotel restaurant and bar has an amazing view over the sea at sunset. There is also sometimes a wicked little organic food market near the park and surf spots.

If you are trying to travel australia as cheap as possible then I would highly recommend hiring one of the little cars with a roof tent - we found it far cheaper than the camper vans and much cheaper than staying in hotels and hostels and getting a hop on hop off bus. It also gives you a bit of freedom to stop wherever and whenever you like.

#eastcoastaustralia #fingalbay #yamba #southwestrocks #bellingen #sydney #travel #backpacking

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