The article is written by Maddison Reynolds
The New South Wales coastline is full of beautiful, hidden-gems often disregarded by the typical traveller. While many opt to undertake the famous east coast road-trip during their time here, much of the coast can be explored on weekend trips from Sydney.
This June long weekend, I grabbed a bunch of mates and headed north to the small, coastal town of Crescent Head. My boyfriend, an avid surfer, had visited here many times before and had raved to me about the beautiful beaches, spectacular surf and piquant pies from the local bakery. Packing in Sydney on Thursday night, the weather report looked grim, so I prepared my study notes in the event that this would be a fairly average weekend spent indoors. To my surprise, Crescent Head had plenty to deliver (even unseasonable sunshine).
Crescent Head is located 440km north of Sydney. The best way to get there is, of course, by car.
The drive can take anywhere between 5 and 6 ½ hours, depending on Sydney’s (very unpredictable) traffic. Be wary of peak travel times and try and avoid travelling during school holidays and long-weekend periods.
If you’ve ever travelled up the east coast before, you’d know that there are plenty of places to veer off the highway, grab a bite to eat (Heatherbrae pies are my personal favourite) and stretch your legs.
Once you reach the Kempsey turn-off, pass the Crescent Head signs and follow the road into the main street of Kempsey. Be sure to take advantage of the shops here and grab all the food and drinks you’ll need for your stay. Crescent Head only has one convenience store so this is your last option to grab that 1kg tub of hummus you’ll no doubt be needing after a day of long-boarding.
The Crescent Head Holiday Park is located right on Crescent’s famous main beach, home to one of the best right-hand breaks in the world. The park offers cabins as well as camping options and is situated in the middle of town. It is a convenient walk to cafes, shops and restaurants.
Alternatively, Crescent Head is home to plenty of rental properties, depending on the size of your group. We chose a property just out of the main town centre that housed a group of 6. The property was secluded and private, making it perfect for impromptu dance parties in the early hours and quiet bonfire sessions.
For those feeling a little more adventurous, beach camping is available in the Goolawah National Park. Visit the Visit NSW website for more details.
Things to Do
If you’re going to Crescent Head, chances are you’re already a keen surfer or you’re at least keen to give it a try. Crescent Head is world-renowned as one of Australia’s best breaks and is perfect for beginners and those more experienced. It is also the perfect place for longboarding and stand-up paddle boarding if these are your chosen crafts. The best thing of all about Crescent Head is that even in the early weeks of winter, the water is still warm enough to surf in without a full wetsuit. There really is an almost endless summer on the mid-north coast.
Crescent Head is also home to beautiful national park land. If you’re in a 4WD, head into Hat Head National Park, Goolowah National Park and Lime Burners National Park. There are ample amounts of secluded beaches and picture-perfect lookout points to be discovered. The best advice in this region is to head out and explore. Pack an esky full of snacks and beers, grab your surfboard and get out there!
Some of the roads in this region are unsealed so be sure to check the Visit NSW site before heading out.
Places to Eat
Crescent Head is a small town so there are a limited amount of options when it comes to dining.
Barnett’s Bakery is famous for its pies and pastries. Expect to see queues of locals lined out the door if you visit between morning and late afternoon rush. Australian’s know good pies, so a pie shop as busy as Barnett’s is generally worth your wait.
If you’re after a coffee or café brunch, head to Blackfish Café or Green Room Café. Blackfish Café is also home to one of the friendliest cattle dogs I’ve ever met and there’s plenty of time for canine cuddles while you’re waiting for your coffee.
The Crescent Head Country Club is a great option for a pub-feed and beers after a long day of exploring. In peak periods the Country Club fills up quickly so be sure to arrive early to grab a table.
Despite my original misgivings, Crescent Head turned out to be the perfect place for a relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This quiet, and secluded town had so much to offer for those willing to look for it. And even though I left covered in surfing bruises, Crescent Head was truly the perfect place to get salty, have a laugh and recharge with friends.