Welcome to Don’t Delay Your Stay, news.com.au’s campaign to support communities hard hit by this summer’s devastating bushfires. Many of these regions rely on tourism so one of the best ways to help is to visit and spend time in some of the most beautiful parts of our great country.
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It’s best known for great surf and chilled-out coastal towns, but there are also plenty of top spots for a bite to eat on the NSW Mid North Coast. Hit the road and put these places on your must-stop list.
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It’s not only the surf people rave about at Crescent Head; Barnett’s Bakery also has a loyal fan base and peak holiday times see customers spilling onto the footpath. It’s a good old-fashioned Aussie bakery on overdrive, with fresh-to-order sandwiches, plus pies, sausage rolls, coffee, a great selection of breads, and an even better choice of baked goods. I’m talking caramel tarts, custard tarts, eclairs, profiteroles, vanilla slice, bee stings and giant, mouth-watering versions of Kingston biscuits. It’s definitely worth the half-hour detour off the Pacific Highway.
BEST CAFE BREAKFAST
In the small town of Old Bar you’ll find a breaky menu with the works. Take a break from vegemite and instead try the savoury mince on thick toast at Old Bar Village Café. If that doesn’t float your boat, how about poached eggs on a toasted croissant, or scrambled eggs with pesto or chilli? Wash it down with a protein smoothie or passionfruit juice to keep you going for a day of surfing, boating and swimming.
If you love your beans, you’ll want to call into the very hipster Palate & Ply Espresso Bar in Coffs Harbour CBD. There are house blends and single origin specials, as well as cold drip coffee and even cold-pressed coffee infused with nitrogen, if you want to go all out. If you’d rather make your own blend, you can do that too. There is also a good range of alternative milks, including macadamia and lactose free, while non-coffee drinkers will rejoice at the loose-leaf tea selection.
BEST PIE SHOP
Fredo Pies is an institution, with generations of road-trippers calling into the tiny town of Frederickton on the Sydney-to-Byron route. Although it’s now been bypassed by the new highway, it still makes a great lunch stop. You can opt for an old fave, such as chunky pepper steak or curry beef, or you can test those tastebuds with crocodile, kangaroo with bush spice, or venison with red wine. The owners make a great vege mornay pie too, but they sell out quick.
BEST MILKSHAKE STOP
Keep the kids happy with an indulgent milkshake from Malt & Honey, arguably the best cafe in the tourist town of South West Rocks. They do a great breaky and coffee, but it’s the tall, thick shakes you want to come here for. They’re best enjoyed at a table on the pavement, while drip drying after a dip in the nearby ocean.
BEST PUB LUNCH
The Federal Hotel is one of the Mid North Coast’s iconic food venues and it is not just the beautiful historic facade that makes this Bellingen pub, which it opened in 1901, popular. The food is top notch and you can expect to dine on jalapeño poppers, Hervey Bay scallops, and Sydney rock oysters, or typical Aussie pub fare such as calamari and chicken schnitzel in a breezy beer garden. Like all good pubs, there is plenty of entertainment, including quiz, jazz and open mic nights.
BEST U-PICK FARM
You would’ve seen the signs on the highway to Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries in Port Macquarie. It’s time to turn off to be pleasantly surprised by this great u-pick. Only 10 minutes’ drive north of Port, Ricardo’s is a child-friendly farmgate experience during which you can walk around, bucket in hand, picking your own fruit. While there, stretch your legs on a free farm tour and then sit down for scones at the onsite cafe.
BEST SEAFOOD CO-OP
If you like your seafood locally caught by fishermen you’ll likely bump into down the pub, then Wallis Lake Fishermen’s Co-op has you covered. Whether you have a craving for an hors d’oeuvre of oysters, fancy grilling a lobster on the barbie, or want to eat out on a kilo of fresh prawns, you’ll be able to find it at this Tuncurry co-op. Formed in 1947, the co-op is an important place for many of the area’s fishing families.
Soak up the tranquillity of Cassegrain Wines, an estate surrounded by manicured gardens, full-bodied trees and rows of vines. Located next to the M1 at Port Macquarie but a world away, the estate has more than 2000 rose bushes and is the perfect Mid North Coast picnic spot. Or you can enjoy a paddock-to-plate experience at the winery’s restaurant. The cellar door is open daily, while there are also winery tours and a gift a shop so you can take home Kempsey honey, chutney and wasabi mayonnaise.
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