Summer Wind Down in Sleepy Tuncurry

Footsteps along Tuncurry beach
Footsteps along Tuncurry beach

Tuncurry is a tiny jewel in the string of coastal gems that make up the mid-north coast region of New South Wales.

About four hours drive north of Sydney, Tuncurry and its sister town Forster, are slightly off the beaten track i.e. off the main north-south Pacific Highway. Rather than creating a sad feeling that the World has passed it by, the detour required to reach both these towns means that they retain their laid back ambience. A huge positive when you want a stress-free beach break.

We have been visiting Tuncurry for many years now for our Summer holiday ‘flop’. Even though the town may be considered a little unsophisticated i.e. missing bright neon lights and extensively manufactured entertainment, the lack of those urban trappings is exactly what we like about the place. We park the car in the garage and that’s where it stays while we lap up the sun, surf and sand.

Every now and then though we kick ourselves into action, rather than just kicking back, and fill our days with the natural wonder of the place. A typical day may look something like:

Early morning strollers on the Bicentennial Walk, Forster
Early morning strollers on the Bicentennial Walk, Forster

600am: “Really? We have to get out of bed at this time? Even on holidays?”

It is definitely worth it though. Early mornings on the coast are simply the best with breaking waves and stunning sunrises. A favourite walk is The Pebbly Beach Bicentennial Walk which hugs the coastline from Forster’s Main Beach, up to the Rotary Lookout at Benetts Head Reserve. You can keep going if your legs have the energy, to step out the length of One Mile Beach, or simply turn around after admiring the view from the Lookout. One day we must time it so that we can watch the whales and their babies cruise past on their North/South migration. This walk is graded easy/medium although be warned, there are a couple of stiff climbs. Allow two hours (return) if you plan to walk the whole distance and return to…

Cafe at Main Beach Forster
Beach Cafe. Photo:

800am: Breakfast at Beach Bums Café.

I reckon you would be hard pressed to find a café in a more beachy and laid back location. With a strong long black coffee firmly grasped in your hand, you are within a few sandy steps away from Main Beach’s warm white sands. Coffee and coast? Life doesn’t get better. We enjoy a guilt-free breakfast as we have worked up (or walked up) a decent appetite after our early morning exertions. Eggs Benedict…or should that be pancakes?? Yes, the diet goes out the window on holidays.

Suitably satiated, we waddle back over the bridge that connects Forster to Tuncurry. This stretch of water, the Wallis Lakes, is home to many families of dolphins, often playing under or near the bridge. The water is so clear you can see their bodies rippling through the blue-green waters. A true delight and highlight of our annual pilgrimage to Tuncurry.

breaking waves and rising sun at Tuncurry Beach
Early morning light on Tuncurry Beach

1000am: Beach or Shopping?

In my book, the beach beats shopping every time, although both are plentiful in this part of the world. Tuncurry has some quirky little shops as well as all the necessities to make a beach holiday complete.

Tuncurry Beach is a pure expanse of white emptiness. Also known as Nine Mile Beach, it stretches all the way to Black Head in the north. Tuncurry Beach is perfect for early morning or evening strolls and is popular with surfers when the currents are right. It is unpatrolled so you need to be careful and beware of any rips etc. If you are traveling with a pooch, they are going to be very happy as this beach is open to dogs. It brings so much joy watching the happy, happy, happy dogs romping along the sand, tongues lolling and completely in love with the world and everyone in it.

Chicken burger and sweet potato chips
Tasty lunch at The Deck Cafe

1230: Ready for lunch at The Deck Café, Tuncurry.  

If you have had enough sun for a while then retreat to the deck at The Deck for a delicious snack (or meal) and soothing views of the Wallis Lakes. Revive with a chilled beverage as you watch the amateur fisherman try their luck, the pelicans resting on the sandbar or the buzzing jet skis disturbing the peace.

200pm: Nanna nap? Or endless cricket on the television?

Summertime in Australia is peak cricket season – something that drives me to distraction! I retreat to another room with a good book, closing the door so I don’t have to listen to the colourful language describing the skill level and heritage of the cricket umpire or various batsmen.

Early morning swimmers in the Tuncurry Rockpool.
Tea bag swimmers in the Tuncurry Rockpool.

400pm: Refresh with a swim at the Tuncurry Rockpool.

The real bite has started to go out of the sun and I jump on the little fold-up pushbike and pedal up to the Rockpool. I feel like I’m an extra in one of those ‘active ageing’ or ‘happy retiree’ superannuation television ads as carefree, I spin dreamily along the paths. The breeze rippling through the hairs on my legs tell me I am letting my standards slip and I need to lift my game.

I plunge into the refreshing water, dodging little kids of various ages and join the ‘tea bags’. Yes, that description had me foxed too in the beginning. ‘Tea bags’ are people who get into the water and just dunk up and down! They don’t actually swim! Yes, a little judgmental, but a perfect description. I knock out a few laps as I am not ready to join the tea bag brigade yet!

700pm: Dinner? Can I be bothered?

Yes, better make an effort. I slip on a brightly-coloured Summer dress and a bit of lipstick, drag the other half away from the cricket, and we slowly stroll along the streets to see what takes our fancy. Super fresh fish and chips overlooking the lake? Local Sydney Rock oysters from the Coop? A tangy Indian curry? Or one of the many pubs and clubs? Making this decision will be the toughest thing I have done all day!

Seagull sits on top of post
Watch out! He has an eye on your hot chips!

The livin’ is easy in Tuncurry, especially in summertime.

Where is your favourite Summer retreat?


The Basics

What: Beach holidays to recover from Christmas and recharge the batteries ready for another busy year ahead.

Where: Tuncurry is located 310km north of Sydney, right in the heart of the Mid-North Coast region. Tuncurry is on the northern shore of the Wallis Lake, mirrored by Forster on the southern side.

When: Summer is peak season on the coast. Make sure you book your accommodation early.

Why: Visit Tuncurry for an easy and simple holiday in a sleepy coastal town – just like the ones we visited as kids.

How: If you are not driving, Tuncurry can be reached by a daily NSW Trainlink bus service.

Who: Very popular with families because of the range of patrolled beaches and sheltered waterways.

Related Posts: For a true Summer trip down memory lane, have a look at my post about family holidays to the Florida Car-o-tel in the 1960’s!

Related Blogs: Don’t believe me, check out these photos of the Forster and Tuncurry region.

Read About It: For your best beach holiday reading, check out Book Depository

Aerial view of Tuncurry on right and Forster on left.
Aerial view of Tuncurry on right and Forster on left. Photo:


4 thoughts on “Summer Wind Down in Sleepy Tuncurry

  1. It sounds blissful (apart from the cricket 🙂 ) and I love your style of writing. If only Australia weren’t so very far away…


  2. Yes, it is a bit of a commitment to get to Aus, but certainly worth the effort!! 😉 Thanks for the feedback. It is much appreciated. Have a great day. Mel


  3. Wow….this brought back some memories. I went to Forster / Tuncurry to race the Ironman triathlon for quite a few years in a row. I loved it there. It’s a shame they moved the IM Port Mac….sorry Port Mac people 😀. Forster/Tuncurry was a great venue and the volunteers that worked so hard during those races were made up from local retirees amounst others and they were awesome.


    1. Yes, it is a shame the triathlon moved as I think it was a pretty important economic injection into the community. I think some of the problem related to it getting too big and they couldn’t get enough volunteers to manage it. A victim of their own success! It is a wonderful part of the world. Melx


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