The Coffs Coast, like a lot of places, is best experienced before sunrise. Not a pleasant thought for those of us who struggle bleary-eyed out of bed each morning, but an accurate one. Nicole woke before dawn three days in a row to capture the beauty of the morning golden hour.

There’s nothing quite like the magic of experiencing mobs of kangaroos, backlit by the golden glow of the rising sun, as they bound and munch upon a cliff’s edge.

Or the wonder of seeing a shipwreck stranded upon a beach over a century ago, as unrelenting waves crash against its remaining timbers.

Or even the amazement of witnessing groups of seniors bobbing happily in the icy waves of the harbour while most of us are still warm in bed.

There’s no time of day that’s more peaceful or more beautiful than the low-lit hours before sunrise.

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Morning 1 – Coffs Harbour Jetty

Golden hour, that period each day at sunrise and sunset when the world is bathed in a flattering golden glow, has a well-founded reputation for being a fantastic time to take photos. It was an acknowledgement of this that saw me drag myself out of bed before dawn one morning, still half-asleep and bundled up in a large puffer jacket, and stumble down the road towards Coffs Harbour Jetty.



From my spot at the end of the jetty as I watched the sun slowly emerge from behind Muttonbird Island, it soon became apparent that several of the locals had their own motivations for rising early: they ran, walked their dogs, snuck in a quick session with their PT before work, even swam and paddled in the inky blue depths of the harbour.

However, it was the sight of a half-dozen seniors clambering joyously into the still-icy waves on the cusp of morning for a chin-wag with their friends that amazed me the most.



Read more: Coffs Harbour to Yamba: 125km of Coastal Hiking

Morning 2 – Look At Me Now Headland And The Buster Shipwreck

Another day, another pre-dawn alarm. This time, I was keen to revisit a couple of stunning locations a little further up the Coffs Coast that I knew would be enhanced in the golden morning light.

Look At Me Now Headland by Emerald Beach has been accurately named. Although the sun was still quite low when I arrived, I found it near impossible to tear my eyes away from the dozens of kangaroos bounding about upon the edge of a cliff while the waves crashed far below.



Eventually, I managed to tear myself away long enough to follow the path up to the top of a small hill and was rewarded for my efforts.



I watched the sun as it rose out over the ocean, gradually illuminating the mobs of kangaroos in its warm orange light as it rose above the crest which had been shielding them in shadow. Truly a magical sight.

It wasn’t easy for me to leave the headland, but I knew I had to catch the Buster shipwreck while the soft light of early morning still hung over it. Soft light aside, it was worth it just to get there before the crowds arrived (one of the great perks of sunrise photography).



As I stood watching the waves mercilessly batter what little remained of the ship (and getting pretty wet in the process), I thought about how many generations of passers-by had witnessed the same over the last century or so since it had been swept up there.


Morning 3 – Urunga Boardwalk

For my final morning of Coffs Coast sunrises, I headed down the coast to the Urunga Boardwalk. When I’d visited the previous afternoon it had been a hub of activity, with several children happily alternating between getting covered in mud and washing themselves off in the river as their parents looked on from their picnic blankets.

It was difficult to reconcile this with the silence the next morning, though it was occasionally broken by a few early risers walking their dogs and by the whirr of boat engines whizzing past.

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Daylight was just breaking as I reached the end of the boardwalk’s one-kilometre stretch and found myself greeted once again by waves, rushing up onto a beach adorned by a collection of stick teepees.



Concluding my Coffs Coast sunrise photography session on the beach was the perfect way to start the day, closely followed by a bacon and egg roll at a local café. Here’s cheers to the power and beauty of mornings.