Charlie’s Bar & Restaurant – Novotel Coffs Harbour

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Twice we enjoyed dinner in Charlie’s Restaurant during our 2 night stay. Both evenings the meals did not disappoint, with very high quality meals produced for our consumption. A favourite we enjoyed both nights, was the pumpkin olive bread. Somewhat surprising given I’m not really a bread person and hubby consumes only white bread as his chosen variety. This bread was divine, served hot, with a lovely crusty crust and beautiful soft inner.

Staff were fantastic. Even a request through to chef to ask if he would change a pasta sauce on the seafood, to cater for hubby’s allergy, was met without any problem. Knowing that some food is designed by the chef to match certain sauces, we did make a point of saying to our waitress that if chef couldn’t do this we would order something else instead. This proved to be not necessary with such a willing chef. Thank you for this and the wine matching advice Tim!

As a side note, we enjoyed buffet breakfast here which had a great variety of good food, including a fresh pancake machine.

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Try to allow some time for pre-dinner drinks at Charlie’s Bar, right next to the restaurant. Half price drinks are available during happy hour 5-6pm daily.

Staff here were fantastic too. One young staffer, Shane took great pride in his work, taking the opportunity to straighten, clean and tidy tables/chairs and other bar areas whenever he had the opportunity. We did note the work he did, without any management hovering over or directing him. Well done!

Drinks were prepared and delivered in a timely fashion. Our actions were closely observed by some of the local wildlife, including a very well fed seagull who was happy to sit and observe from the nearby rail. Water dragons provide some free entertainment as they attempt to infiltrate the seating area. Our amusement was hard to stifle when we witnessed the yelps from a table of three ladies who realised the water dragon, was close by them . Unbeknownst to them, he’d been statue like, sitting nearby their table for about 45mins.

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If you are looking to spend some time relaxing with a quiet drink, there is a huge area surrounding the sunken bar to choose from. Highly recommend taking the opportunity to enjoy this lovely spot. We look forward to returning.

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Coffs Harbour Carobana Confectionery Factory

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Glancing through a local brochure of things to do in Coffs Harbour, led us to this factory. Located not far from where we were staying at the Novotel, this place was quaint and interesting.

Entry is free and if you visit early to mid week, you will view the factory in action.

We were greeted upon entry by one if the owners, with the factory layout explained to us. An invitation was extended to partake of tea/coffee as well as confectionery tasting. Tasting is free with a simple sign accompanying the tea/coffee for a gold coin donation- hardly unreasonable.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to view the factory workings, we made our own way through the building, reading the information on the walls as we strolled through. A TV was showing the processes within the factory.

It was somewhat delightful to see older machinery being put to good use, something machinery buffs will appreciate.

There were a number of tasting jars in the shop area, with the request that only one sample of each type, per person. A very reasonable request given the number of samples available.

Carob is the main ingredient, however there are a variety of other confectionery lines available. Nothing that was tried by us, was overly sweet which was refreshing in itself.

An undercover seating area is available outside for those wishing to linger, there are also even colouring activities available for the kids.

Dolphin Marine Magic Park – Coffs Harbour

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Most certainly worth a visit. If you have only ever visited the big theme parks before, and don’t want to pay big $$ for the opportunity to get up close and personal with the marine residents, then this is the place to visit.

Tickets are very reasonable, just over $30 for an adult entry ticket. This entry ticket includes the opportunity to interact with the dolphins and seals, including kisses from both. A fabulous opportunity to experience these beautifully fascinating creatures up close.

You never know who you will see just strolling through the park….

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This place is smaller, with a fabulous personal feel you wont find at big theme parks. Pricing in the cafe and the souvenir shop appeared to be reasonable.

The day we visited was busy we were told, as it was the last few days of the April school holidays in NSW. However, you can still wander around without feeling engulfed by people.

A place worth a visit for both the little and the big kids at heart !

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Wine tasting – Wallambah Vale Wines – Nabiac NSW

After the drive in from the highway and a tasting at the Villa D Esta Winery, (refer to Villa D Esta Winery review), the decision to travel an extra 1.5km and visit this winery, certainly wasn’t difficult.

The attached vineyard is closer to the road than the previous winery. Once again the cellar door was open with wines, ports and liqueurs on display.

For those who are interested in the workings of a winery, there is a glass window through to the production area of the winery. The tasting room is adorned with vintage style memorabilia, adding a nice rustic touch to the room.

Cheese platter and coffee are available for purchase, with a lovely shaded outside area to sit and enjoy.

We were quickly joined by owner Steve who provided plenty of local information relating to the winery, as well as the inevitable wine tasting.

Chardonnay and Chambourcin wines were my tasting if choice. Ports were offered, and duly tasted. Somehow, another box of assorted wines and ports made its way to the boot of the car after we finished purchasing.

These wines are also preservative free.

A note for this winery, take cash if you wish to buy as there are no eftpos facilities available.

Again I recommend turning off the highway at Nabiac, travelling the 10-12 Kim’s to visit these winery’s and sampling their wines. It really us worth it- don’t let the roadworks put you off!

Novotel Coffs Harbour

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The choice we made to break the return home to Brisbane in two, with a couple of nights at Coffs Harbour, was most definitely a good one. The grounds are fabulous at The Novotel Coffs Harbour Pacific Bay Resort. Many on site facilities include, Segway hire, swimming pools, golf course, walking tracks, even a little general store.

Reception staff were friendly and helpful. Accommodation is located separately to the reception area, bar, I myself enjoyed the short walks too and from the bar/restaurant. We were lucky to be enjoying fabulous weather which most certainly helped! Undercover parking near our room, was a definite bonus.

Our room was a king suite with balcony and a view across the water and golf course. The room itself was clean, tidy, even though it may be time to update some of the chipped tiles in the bathroom. The balcony didn’t appear to be cleaned regularly, however it was a generous size with both shaded and sunny areas. We did enjoy the fridge not being used as a minibar. Minibars are not something we use, generally due to the overpriced items, therefore it was refreshing to be able to use the fridge for items which we had purchased.

The room itself was quiet and comfortable. The shower was roomy, with plenty of room throughout the rest of the bathroom.

Walking tracks take you to the nearby beach, and also meander throughout the grounds. A very enjoyable place to walk around. All staff we met, including cleaning staff were friendly and helpful.. There were many
grounds people around, with a lot of attention given to maintaining the extensive grounds.

We did enjoy meals at the restaurant, which I have reviewed separately.

Most definitely, we look forward to returning for another break away.

Wine Tasting – Villa d Esta, Nabiac, NSW

Whatever you do, don’t let the roadworks on the entry road put you off visiting this adorable winery.

After negotiating the roadworks you are rewarded with an amazing view at this delightful winery. Rows of Vineyard grape vines tumbling down hill, coupled with the stone block building, give this winery a Tuscan, Italian feel.

Upon entry into the tasting room, you are surrounded, by jars of homemade jams, fudge and pickles amongst other delights. Bottles of wine, port and liqueurs are close to the bar end of the room. To greet you, a sign, asking you to push the intercom button to notify the owners you are there. It only took a few short minutes before we were joined by owner Olly. (Now you’ve meet Olly, you understand the Italian feel).

Very welcoming and friendly, we were given a private wine tasting along with a run down of Olly’s wine selection which include Chardonnay, chambourcin and Cocumbark grapes. A fascinating variety of liqueurs and ports are available for tasting, and, with only a little convincing , we did partake of a few of Olly’s favourites.

Upon finishing our tasting and stocking the car with our purchases, we shook an enthusiastic Olly’s hand, thanked him and were invited to return. However upon our return we must take the time to enjoy a cheese platter whilst we savour the wine tasting… And yes we most certainly will!

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Hunter Valley Dining

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A beautiful relaxed setting within the Hunter Valley Gardens was our choice for Sunday ‘lunchinner’ (late lunch, early dinner). We were seated before their lunch closing time of 3pm.

Our table came in as most others were finishing their meals, as a result, service was a little lax with a long wait for drinks. After this though, service was fantastic with nothing a problem or too difficult.

I chose to team an entree with, a morsel and sides to create my own main. The result, scallops, curls of crispy pork crackling, beautifully made pork and superb cauliflower cheese with Yorkshire pudding.

Steaks arriving to the table were thick and juicy, as were the lamb cutlets.

Menu is extensive as was the wine list. Choosing to team lunch with the local The Cellar Chardonnay was definitely a good choice. This may be their house wine, however it had a lovely buttery taste and wasn’t a sharp Chardonnay.

Well done to all the staff at The Cellar Restaurant, we did enjoy being able to sit outside under a shady umbrella and soak in the wonderful setting. It was nice too, that tables weren’t too close together and we had some space around us. The outside seats are starting to age and become somewhat creaky, how ere none of them collapsed which is definitely a bonus!

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Hunter Valley Gardens

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A beautiful place for a Sunday drive. There is something for everyone. Located at the top of the Hunter Valley, within easy driving distance of Newcastle.

Over 60 acres of spectacular gardens for viewing, a menagerie of shops ranging from the British Lollie Shop, handbags, nick nacks through to cookie, chocolate, wine, beer and liqueur tastings. Plus don’t forget the helicopter rides and the tunnel of beer!

After some wine tasting and very little convincing, a case of wine for the low price of $50, plus another free bottle for spending over $30, somehow made its way to the boot of the car.

The tunnel of beer is very impressive, with beers from all over the world as well as the opportunity to taste whatever is the tasting beer of the day.

The shops are quirky, cottagey and it’s wonderful to meander your way through the alley ways joining them. Even though this is a very popular destination there is still plenty of room to make your way around no matter how many people are there.

Fish n chip Takeaway Day

On the rare occasion we do enjoy a takeaway meal of fish and chips. This place is certainly one I would recommend.

Fish comes in generous sized fillets with a choice of battered, crumbed or grilled. I myself, am not a burger eater however the two that were ordered by the others enjoying this meal, were definitely not for the faint hearted. Full to overflowing, with plenty of salad to combine with the meat or other menu choice.

The burger menu is extensive, catering for a wide variety with a veggie burger, kids burgers through to the biggest of all, Armagettin’ Meat burger.

Prices are average or above, for this type of takeaway. The only noticeable difference with this menu is the lack of family packs- there are none. They do however generously fill the chip boxes, with the result you will be surprised at the amount of chips their boxes hold.

Staff are generally ok to deal with, although to be fair, this isn’t a restaurant where you’re paying for the service.

If you’re looking for a quick meal, try Fryhard Takeaway at Carseldine Central.