Tourism has become one of the biggest industries in Australia. It is a competitive industry, with all regions competing aggressively to attract tourists to boost their economies and maintain a high employment level.
The Manning Valley tourist body has many attractions to promote and has been investigating the best methods to gain its slice of the spending dollar. Recently, it began promoting the region under the banner ‘Discover Seven (7) Natural Wonders’.
Having an abundance of outstanding tourist attractions and apart from encouraging travellers to discover the region, it is worth mentioning that our local community should also join in the discovery. The great advantage of our region is its close proximity to many major areas to the south, north and west, including the Sydney region – a large source of potential visitors.
Tourism is becoming a major part of our economy, and it will enable businesses to capitalise and extend their turnover. The Manning Valley is the gateway to the Mid North Coast – with a rich heritage, pristine beaches, rivers, historic towns and villages, Aboriginal history, panoramic views, productive farmland, and tranquil rain forests.
Driving through most areas, we find there are fantastic facilities: picnic areas, bed and breakfasts, accommodation and unique cafés and boutique industries to enjoy. There are no modern buildings that are eyesores – everything is surrounded by unspoilt, unpretentious, natural beauty. And one of our biggest assets is the friendliness of the community.
One of our strong selling points is that the Valley has an undeniably rich history, dating back to its discovery by explorer John Oxley in 1819.
Surprisingly, the first agricultural crop was sugar cane, grown by John Guilding when he planted the first crop in 1827 at a location called Ghinni Ghinni. There was also a ship yard built in 1833.
The Australian Agricultural Company established a system of land grants on the Manning, where private individuals began settlement in 1829. Commercial expansion rapidly progressed when the railway arrived – first reaching Taree in 1913 and heralding a long period of strong commercial expansion.
The current economic climate has the region well placed to capitalise on the population’s changing touring habits, with tourism in the Manning Valley now thriving. Last year, the Manning celebrated a substantial increase in visitors compared to previous years.
Almost one million visitor nights were recorded for the Manning Valley in this period, which was a staggering increase of 50%. With such a vast array of attractions on offer to visitors, it was a tough task to identify only seven destinations out of so many options.
So what are the 7 Wonders selected?
The region’s beaches have always been a popular spot for the locals, and with 11 beaches in our area, this is wonder number one. Including Crowdy Head, Diamond, Wallaby Point and Old Bar Beaches, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the rocky headlands and stroll along the sand of the foreshores.
The Crowdy Head beach allows four-wheel-drives to head for kilometres (permit required) to view the magnificent coastline and enjoy the surf. While in Crowdy Head, visit the top of the headland and the lighthouse (which is not available for public tours) but has a great view to the ocean’s horizons. The marine life is amazing – you may be fortunate enough to see migratory whales.
The Manning River is the heart of the Valley, and being Australia’s only delta river system with entrances at Harrington and Old Bar, is in itself a unique natural wonder. Connecting to the Pacific Ocean, the river is a very popular spot with tourists and locals and has 150 km of navigable waterways for boating, water sports including water skiing, jet skiing, and fishing.
Historically, the Manning River was the economic lifeblood of the Mid North Coast region in the pioneer days, being used as a transportation link for timber and agricultural products to ports in Sydney.
Next up is the famous Ellenborough Falls, located through Wingham and Elands, west of Taree.
The unique Ellenborough Falls is a must see; it’s the longest single drop waterfall in the southern hemisphere. Situated on the Bulga Plateau, it is a 50 minute drive from Taree. Easy to access, it has a timbered walkway to the base of the falls, with many rest spots for the less fit.
There are plenty of viewing platforms, and it is the ideal place to have a picnic and enjoy the magnificent scenery. Even for the person who is not the fittest, it is just a 400 m walk. For those who are unsure of the distance, it is 641 steps to the base of the falls, with two viewing opportunites at the base.
Passing through Wingham, the next wonder is Wingham Brush – 10 hectares of the last sub tropical, flood plain forest, which once covered the Manning flood plain many years ago. The magnificent Moreton Bay Fig trees in the Brush are 100 years old. The Brush is also home to a large group of Grey-Headed Flying Foxes, with as many as 100,000 of the animals hanging in the trees during the summer months.
Located alongside the original Wingham Wharf, the area was declared a Nature Reserve for flora in 1909 – containing more than 140 species of native plants and 30 different species of vines.
The Crowdy Head and Harrington area offer a magnificent array of tourism opportunities. The northern section of the Valley has a National Park covering 6,000 hectares of coastal plains. The well kept area has an abundance of camping and picnic areas, provides opportunities for great surfing, and in season there are wildflowers that will have many an amateur and professional photographer taking memorable pictures.
Diamond Head is one of the best kept secrets I have visited. The main camping area has five star facilities, and the friendly kangaroos who graze in the area add to the unique and relaxing atmosphere.
With plenty of walking trails at Diamond Head, you will be able to experience the unspoilt environment.
Next, we have the magnificent and breathtaking Tapin Tops, which are 30 km west of Wingham.
Heading up the mountain, you start with lush pastoral land and then head through warm, sub-tropical rainforest and Eucalypt forests. Stopping and resting at Rowleys Rock will provide views back to Taree and the ocean.
Coorabakh National Park rounds out the seven wonders. It is a 15 minute drive which takes in Newbys Creek walks and caves. In this region we have Big Nellie Mountain and Flat Rock lookout.
The is no doubt the Manning Valley is placed to take advantage of the tourism boom – an area which will grow in strength.
In coming issues, we will be highlighting more of the region’s brilliant and some lesser known locations to enjoy on weekends.
To all readers, please tell your friends and relatives about the beauty of the Valley. Get out and about, and you will take little convincing that the Manning Valley has a lot to offer.