Mull Away at Mullaway

You’ve just unpacked at your holiday home. The vibration and traffic whoosh and buzzing city noise press on your memory as you look out over hills, ocean, birds. You’re at a loss. The silence requests a new rythm.

This change of pace and perspective makes holiday accommodation a really valuable guest experience. For example, vacationers from the city might at first feel ‘at sea’ in a beach town rental, but after a sunset stroll among birdcalls, ocean waves and dishes clinking sedately within lit windows at twilight, the lifestyle has become one of the highlights of their trip.

Meet Mulloway

So I mused on our recent drive from Sydney to the Gold Coast, when we stopped over at Mullaway for the night. It’s a quiet town north of Coffs Harbour, situated around a headland and picnic area. To my delight, shortly after we arrived a clear call signalled a pair of Forest Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos winging over graceful streets into bushland. Walking those streets I saw homes that wore simple touches of beauty: tin animals, fairy lights looped over a branch, wicker chairs… It was certainly different from concrete landscapes and sheer-faced mansions. Life here was appreciative.

Dog at a nearby beach, ready to chase a stick.

Still, I imagined what I’d do with myself here. Would I jump out of my skin? Write a novel? Become a full-time surfer? I pass a woman on a chair, sitting still, watching. I breathe. The last city itchiness wiggles out of my skin. A sense of calmness spreads with the pink sunset glow.

Meet the Locals

Unlike other small towns in the area, Mullaway has been lucky to escape development. It seems that, while it’s a recognised spot for holiday rentals and commands good real estate prices, inhabitants respect the quiet lifestyle and know how to enjoy what the area has to offer. Newcomers tend to pick this up, as the co-owner of the town’s only store (convenience, coffee and great fish and chips) told us the next morning.

“They say to us, ‘What do we do here?’” she tells us on the shop lawn during a post-coffee convo. She recalls how people from Sydney would buy a house in Mulloway for the location, and then try to change the area to what they were used to: a skate park here, a dance studio there. She was pleased to report that no such thing has yet been built: there are plenty of skate parks a short drive away.

Holiday wishes from Mullaway General Store

Enjoy Pristine Surrounds

And really, after one night and a morning it’s obvious what you do in Mulloway. The beach! The view! Bring a surf board, bring a book, bring a camera. Soak up the idyllic. Walking the headlands and hidden boardwalks offers views of house-free beaches and surfers in action. It’s prime location in whale season, and the White-Bellied Sea Eagle, Short-Beaked Echidna, and Eastern Blue-Tongue Lizard are among the wildlife you may spot year-round.

The shop owner went on to explain that much of this pristine environment is thanks to a wealthy American man who’d owned land in Mulloway years ago. When the man moved away he decided the natural environment was worth more to him than the money he’d have made from selling his valuable plots to developers. He donated it as national parkland.

Perhaps it’s not possible or necessary for everyone to live in a place like Mullaway. Staying there can, however, be a priceless experience that reminds us to appreciate natural beauty where it is still in abundance… and perhaps even bring perspective to development elsewhere, with nature’s wealth in mind.


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