Solitary Islands Coastal Walk (March 2022)

The Solitary Islands Coastal Walk runs 60 km from Red Rock to Sawtell, mostly along the beach via Woolgoolga, Moonee Beach and Coffs Harbour. It’s best walked at low tide and from north to south so the sun is behind.

We discovered this walk in the Warwick Tourist Information in 2021 and after two aborted attempts due to COVID border closures we were ready to go. Click here for the map.

Accommodation is a problem at Moonee Beach as the caravan park has a 2 night minimum and the airBnB was not available for our dates. So we stayed 3 nights at Woolgoolga and 2 nights at Coffs Harbour using Forest Coach Lines 372 buses to transfer. It also meant we only needed to carry a light day pack.

Tuesday 15 March 2022: Red Rock to Woolgoolga

Distance: 16.8 km Time: 4:30 (including lunch break at Corindi Beach)
Ascent: 300m Descent: 310m

We left our car at Woolgoolga and took the Woopi Connect shuttle to the start of the walk at Red Rock and walked back on the outgoing tide. At high tide the beach would be under water in places.

Red Rock Beach – the start of the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk
Leaving Red Rock – soft, sloping sand and a strong headwind but the sand firms after a while. We saw no sign of human activity: no other people and no rubbish on the 5 km long beach to Corindi
Stone fish traps at Arrawarra operated by the Gumbaynggirr people for thousands of years are still used today on special occasions
Signpost shows the way to go
30 kph winds whipping up the ocean – Woolgoolga visible in the distance
There are two creek crossings but at low tide the water is only ankle deep
The barquentine Buster was wrecked on Woolgoolga Beach in 1893
Woolgoolga is home to Australia’s largest Sikh/Punjabi population
Of course we had curry every night!

Wednesday 16 March 2022: Woolgoolga to Moonee Beach

Distance: 15.6 km Time: 4:30 (including lunch at Emerald Beach)
Ascent: 130m Descent: 130m

We drove to Moonee Beach and caught the bus back to Woolgoolga, starting the walk at 10am so as to arrive at Moonee Creek at low tide (even at low tide the Creek crossing is waist deep). The weather was not so nice today, raining on and off and sometimes heavily.

Woolgoolga Back Beach, a few km south of the Woolgoolga Headland
Steps down to the beach
Another very windy day
A shallow creek to cross
Occasionally there are pebbly sections on otherwise golden sandy beaches
A kangaroo at the Look At Me Now Headland
Crossing the Moonee Creek at low tide

Thursday 17 March 2022: Moonee Beach to Coffs Harbour

Distance: 12.0 km Time: 3:40 (no cafes, no stops)
Ascent: 300m Descent: 300m

With the weather looking better and rain forecast for the afternoon we left Moonee Beach at 10am, having left the car at Coffs and bussing back to Moonee. This was only about an hour after high tide which made for some difficult walking in soft sand. There’s rocky headlands to go around requiring a few kilometres of urban walking but otherwise nice beaches and bits of coastal forest trails.

Continuing on from Moonee Beach there’s a bridge to cross the Creek
Looking out to sea from the Moonee Creek bridge
This is walking an hour after high tide but it was only for 2km
The next beach along was flatter and firmer
At low tide it’s possible to dash around Campbell’s Headland
Today required a considerable inland urban diversion
At the bottom of these steps is a surprise – a waist deep water crossing
With the tide out it was easy walking across Diggers Beach
Coffs Harbour’s Park Beach, the day’s end in sight

Friday 18 March 2020: Coffs Harbour to Sawtell

Distance: 13.5 km Time: 3:30 (including lunch at Coffs Fishermen’s Co-op)
Ascent: 90m Descent: 90m

Today we drove to Sawtell, left the car and caught a taxi back to Coffs. High tide was at 9:30, low at 15:30 so we decided to leave Coffs at midday. It was a lovely day, sunny with a cool breeze and we managed the whole walk without getting our feet, let alone anything else, wet.

As this wave receded we ran for it and didn’t get our feet wet
Coffs wooden jetty, built in 1890, is about 400m long
It was easy walking the 6km along Boambee Beach
Every beach has its flock of seagulls and oystercatchers
An old structure hanging off the railway bridge to cross Boambee Creek
Boambee Beach and Creek from the Boambee Head Lookout
Looking back at the Sawtell Beach, we’re almost finished
60km from Red Rock, the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk finishes at the Sawtell Memorial Rock Pool
The pool commemorates those Australians who have served in conflicts

Finished off with a parkrun at Coffs Harbour