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11 Things to do on the Macleay Valley Coast with kids

Outdoor adventures, budget-friendly attractions and fabulous eateries make the Macleay Valley Coast the perfect destination for families. Here are 13 activities the whole family will love.

1. Trail Bay Gaol

Kids will be intrigued by the gruesome history of this world-class attraction, where you can step inside the tiny cells and imagine what it was like to live like the prisoners of yesteryear.

Family inside Trail Bay Gaol

2. Shipwreck Island waterpark

Located within the Big4 NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort, Shipwreck Island waterpark will keep the kids entertained for hours. The solar-heated waterpark includes three waterslides and a tipping bucket that empties 350 litres of water every couple of minutes. If that’s not enough to convince you, the Big4 also boasts a jumping pillow, mini golf, cart hire and a games room. Book a couple of nights or visit for the day and enjoy the facilities at your leisure.

Shipwreck Island Waterpark at Big 4 NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Park

3. Smoky Cape Lighthouse

Family at the top of Smoky Cape Lighthouse

It’s a steep walk up to the most elevated lighthouse in NSW, but the views are worth it, extending from Hat Head in the south to Green Island in the north. As you walk up the hill, check out the information boards located at the old stables to learn about the history of the lighthouse and its keepers. Further along, you’ll come to the old Lighthouse Keeper’s
cottages, which have been turned into luxury accommodation.

If you visit between May and September, keep an eye out for whales on their annual migration.

4. Snorkelling in Korogoro Creek

Korogoro Creek

The pristine waters of Korogoro Creek in Hat Head provide a beautiful and safe opportunity for the whole family to enjoy a snorkeling adventure. Arrive at the top of the tide to spot hermit crabs, plentiful mullet and, in summer, colourful tropical fish and even the occasional octopus. Finish up basking on the banks of the creek while the kids build sandcastles, or throw a line off the footbridge to catch your dinner.

5. Visit the flicks

Rain spoiling your beach holiday?  Catch a movie at the charming South West Roxy Cinema (currently closed due to COVID conditions). This quaint cinema shows a fantastic range of both mainstream and alternative movies in an enchanting setting complete with bean bags and a traditional popcorn shop. Or if you are in Kempsey, the new Majestic Cinema is showing the newest releases. 

6. Roll on with ten-pin bowling

Dine at Social Alley

A favourite with locals, Social Alley is a super friendly family-run bowling centre six-lane black bowling alley, diner, bar & cabana lounges at South West Rocks Country Club. Or get the family to Galactic Tenpin Bowling in Kempsey. Featuring an eight-lane bowling, arcade games and even bumper and glow bowling for the little ones. Finish off your fun bowling session with a milkshake or tasty burger from Galactic’s wonderful café.

7. Learn to surf

Child learning to surf

Been a while since you learned something new? Join your kids in the water and book some family surfing lessons! Private family surf lessons can be organised in the surfing mecca of Crescent Head with Surfaris Surf Camp, Crescent Head Learn to Surf or On Point Surf School. Alternatively, book a session in South West Rocks with Trent Munro Surf School to learn the
craft at some of the safest beaches on the coast.

8. Kalateenee Mountain Bike Trails

The Kalateenee Mountain Bike Trail

If your family loves mountain bike riding, these trails aren’t to be missed. Both adults and kids will relish the experience of exploring the untouched wilderness of Kalateenee State Forest on trails that range from challenging to easy (all trails are graded). Best of all, it’s free! You’ll find the trails located behind the Kempsey Golf Club.

9. The Slim Dusty Centre

Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey

Even if your kids aren’t huge fans of country music, they’ll love looking through the fascinating collection of memorabilia at The Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey. Enjoy the welcoming rendition of ‘G’day G’day’ as you walk through the doors, then wander through the facility to watch films of Slim’s early career, marvel at his gold records and check out the actual caravan and purple car that Slim and Joy used to travel in. Finish up with some Aussie-themed treats at the Dusty Dinner Café.

10. Hike through the national parks

The Korogoro Walking Track in Hat Head National Park

The Macleay Valley Coast offers plenty of short walks that even young kids can conquer. Some of our favourite include Big Hill Rainforest Walk in Limeburners National Park near Crescent Head and the many trails that lead out from Trial Bay Gaol in South West Rocks’ Arakoon National Park. Task the kids with spotting kangaroos, whales, dolphins and birds as you enjoy the soothing sounds of the bush.

11. Visit our local markets

Playing games at the markets

The Macleay Valley Coast is home to two of the top markets in NSW, the Kempsey Riverside Market and the Gladstone Quality Market. Visit the fantastic Kempsey Riverside Markets on the first Saturday of every month to enjoy an excellent range of food stalls, fun activities for the kids, local art and craft, performances and so much more. This market is also conveniently located next to Kempsey Riverside Park, a wonderful children’s playground with a flying fox, climbing frame and water features.

Similarly, the Gladstone Quality Market, held on the third Sunday of the month, is a great place to listen to live music, dine on delicious fresh food and explore a wealth of local produce, arts and crafts, health and therapies, garden and homewares, and fashion and jewellery.

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