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9 Ways to Explore the Macleay in Winter

What is there to do in a coastal region when the weather turns chilly? The answer is, plenty, especially when winter in the Macleay is mostly clear blue skies and crisp, cooler days. Here are our top nine ways to enjoy winter on the Macleay Valley Coast. 


Winter on the Macleay Valley Coast means mild temperatures, offshore winds, crisp mornings and, often, perfect surf conditions. Don a wetsuit and paddle board in the calm waters of Trial Bay, surf glassy waves in Crescent Head, or dive off South West Rocks. Fishing is another great way to get out on the water at this time of year, with endless options including beach, rock, reef, deep sea, river and estuary fishing.

2. get your culture fix

Gladstone is one of those villages that keeps going from strength to strength, led by a devoted community of artists, creative business people and foodies. Winter is a lovely time to visit any one (or all!) of the riverside cafes, or to spend a Sunday perusing the various artist’s studios tucked inside heritage buildings.

3. discover tourist drive 12

Beginning at Crescent Head, the incredibly scenic Tourist Drive 12 takes you through lush farmland along the Belmore River, passing through Gladstone on its way to South West Rocks.

4. Watch for Whales

Winter just happens to be whale season on the Macleay Valley Coast, so don’t miss the opportunity to spot these gentle giants making their way along our shores. Get your camera ready and capture the whales breaching and feeding in pods from the vantage points of Crescent Head, Smoky Cape, or Hat Head.

5. warm up on the kalateenee mountain bike trails

While it might be a bit fresh at the beach, winter is the perfect time to warm up on the Kalateenee Mountain Bike Trails– 25 kilometres of tracks that loop through stunning bush scenery of towering eucalypts, ironbark and brush box trees. The trails are graded and well-maintained, featuring plenty of fun obstacles and challenges.

6. take a walk on the wild side

Want to experience the outdoors minus the sweat and sunburn? Now is the perfect time to walk through our pristine national parks. You’ll find the best bushwalks, along the coast and within the hinterland, from easy to challenging, check them out here.

7. Kick back around a campfire

It’s a well-kept secret that winter is the best time to go camping on the Macleay Valley Coast. Soak up starry nights sipping hot chocolate around the campfire, rug up and walk along the beach and immerse yourself in quiet bushland (with no mozzies!). Check out the National Parks website for winter camping with all the perks!

8. eat and drink

We know how much you have been waiting to have a laugh and reconnect with friends and family over some delicious food and drink. Well, our cafes and restaurants are looking forward to having you, even if things look a little different these days. Please contact businesses directly to check on their offerings as well as policies and restrictions right now.

9. Escape to the hinterland

Go for a drive West of Kempsey to discover magical views of the mighty Macleay River meandering through ancient valleys, then stop at the Bellbrook Hotel for a beer. Experience real old fashioned country hospitality, spectacular mountain ranges, rocky river gorges, sprawling farmland and peaceful villages.

Top 10 Macleay Valley Coast Beaches

Top surf spots on the Macleay Valley Coast

12 Ways to experience the magic of Tourist Drive 12