5reasons to love SAWTELL
This sun-soaked village by the beach is a real Aussie treasure
There’s nothing I like more than stumbling upon an undiscovered gem across the ditch and this northern New South Wales beach is one of them.
1Where it is
About 10km south of Coffs Harbour is the beachside village where I landed after travelling to Oz for the Byron Bay Bluesfest. Sawtell is practically halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, so you can drive from either direction if you have the will. But Coffs Harbour also has a lovely little laid-back airport, with plenty of flights to the big cities (although none direct to New Zealand), and you can rent cars here. We flew to Coolangatta in Queensland for Bluesfest, drove down to Sawtell, then flew out of Coffs via Sydney for home. Too easy, as the Aussies say. I love this part of NSW. I’ve had three low-key holidays here over the years and can never wait to come back.
2 What’s to love
Blink and you’ll miss it, for one. Sawtell is a one-horse heritage village with endless stretches of empty golden beaches attached. I mean, need I say more? The main street has an RSL, a pub, a handful of cafés, a boutique butcher, a lovely fruit and vege shop, a couple of massage options, a hairdresser and a gorgeous cinema that was going to be developed into something else until locals invested in it, topping up with a spot of crowd-funding for a new screen and seats.
3Where to stay
We stayed at Lobster Cottage, the southernmost accommodation in the town, with sweeping views of Bonville Creek and the ocean. Very much in the Kiwi bach style, this no-nonsense place was fully equipped, slept six (for $218 a night) and was perfect for a relaxing chill-out, with an outlook that would be hard to match anywhere in the world. We loved floating down the creek, but you can also kayak up it. Better still, because of the lay of the land, Lobster Cottage faces west – a real treat on the NSW coast – so sundowners on the deck were us. There are plenty of other accommodation options as well – the Sawtell Beach Holiday Park gets good reviews.
4What to eat
We had a great brunch at Treeo on the short main drag – good, fresh Aussie fare – but there are also the other cafés, two fish ’n’ chip shops, Asian options, pizza and a fabulous bakery. However, it was pretty hard for us to drag ourselves away from our cottage with its stunning view, so the butcher and the vege shop were our regular haunts, and the barbecue on the deck our favoured option. At the Bonville Headland lookout just a few metres up the hill, there’s a barista cart with to-die-for views that makes fantastic coffee between six and 11am. And if you want fresh seafood, there’s Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-op just up the road, although it gets mixed reviews.
5 What to do
Our visit was fleeting, so beach walks, swims and sundowners were pretty much it. But that’s kind of Sawtell’s beauty. If you want a carefree holiday in a real beachside neighbourhood in the warm sun, it’s a great option that doesn’t need to cost a fortune. We were there in April, and it was still 27 degrees during the day and warm at night. But if you want to do more, there are surfing lessons available all year round, a plethora of national parks to explore and kids love Dolphin Marine Magic at Coffs. But don’t underestimate the pull of the deck, the barbecue, the view and those sundowners ...
When you want a change from barbie fare, branch out and tuck into brunch at Treeo! from You’re pretty safe – the the rain in Sawtell sun, not so much. This sleepy heritage spot has everything you need for a blissed-out break.