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Cotton On X Empty Esky: North Coast, NSW

Whale watching, quad biking and great brekky spots—the New South Wales coast is filled with hidden gems to discover.

Cotton On X Empty Esky:
A weekend away along the NSW coast

Whale watching, quad biking, and great brekky spots—the New South Wales coast is filled with hidden gems to discover. Byron-based photographer Cait Meirs and her mate Lachlan Henry show us the must-visit spots from Coffs Harbour to Port Stephens, and where to fill your empty esky along the way.

Day one

  • Pop Coffs Harbour into Maps and hit the road.
  • In need of a caffeine hit? Pull into The Kiosk at Sawtell Beach and pick up some snacks while you’re there.
  • Head to Jetty Dive for a spot of whale watching, followed by lunch at Attitude Burgers.
  • Next stop: Big Banana Fun Park—the biggest theme park between Sydney and the Gold Coast.
  • Time to check in to your accommodation. Our pick: Sails Port Macquarie.
  • Wrap up your first day with dinner at Whalebone Wharf. We hear the King Prawns are the go-to.

“Whale watching is a must. The boat ride gives you a real freeing feeling, and the whales just top it off. The captain of the boat explained how the bushfires affected the whales, too. Their season was cut short and they weren’t coming in as close to the shore because of the smoke”.

Day two

  • Start the day with a big brekky at Little Shack. You’ll love the locally sourced menu.
  • Channel your inner adrenaline junkie with quad biking at Stockton Sand Dunes.
  • Head to Hotel Nelson and wind down. A relaxing place to hang your hat after a long day.
  • Fan of fresh seafood and great wine? End the day with dinner at Rick Stein at Bannisters.

“Quad biking was a real highlight. The dunes are so tucked away, it’s like they’re not even there. It’s honestly like being in another country or world—except it’s right in our own backyard”.

Day three

  • First stop: Breakfast at The Little Nel. They do an amazing smashed avo.
  • Head over to The Home Interior for coffee and chats with the locals. And pick up a few goodies for the home.
  • Drive up to Gan Gan lookout and take in the stunning bay views of Port Stephens.
  • Get up close with marine life at Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters and learn about ocean conservation.
  • Finally, head to Shoal Bay Country Club for a late lunch before setting off home.

“The locals make the experience. Everyone you meet is so friendly, warm and welcoming. Hearing people’s stories reminds you how important initiatives like Empty Esky are.”

Cotton On is proud to partner with Empty Esky to help bushfire-affected communities get back on their feet.