Woolgoolga, New South Wales

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New South Wales
Looking down to Woolgoolga from the headland
Woolgoolga is located in New South Wales
Coordinates30°07′S 153°12′E / 30.117°S 153.200°E / -30.117; 153.200Coordinates: 30°07′S 153°12′E / 30.117°S 153.200°E / -30.117; 153.200
Population5,290 (2016 census)[1]
Time zoneAEST (UTC+10)
 • Summer (DST)AEDT (UTC+11)
LGA(s)City of Coffs Harbour
State electorate(s)Coffs Harbour
Federal division(s)Page

Woolgoolga is a town on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is on the Pacific Highway, approximately 550 km north of Sydney and 365 km south of Brisbane. The closest city to Woolgoolga is Coffs Harbour, which lies 25.8 km to the south. Woolgoolga has two beaches on the Pacific Ocean. The area has long been a centre of banana growing in New South Wales, but this industry has declined in the face of competition from Queensland. Recent times have seen many banana plantations replaced by blueberries after banana sales slumped in the late 1990s.[citation needed]


Woolgoolga had a population of 5,290 people in 2016, including 229 indigenous persons and 3,662 Australian-born persons. The median age of all persons is 45 years. Notably, from the Census data, 804 persons (15%) speak Punjabi at home, 661 persons practise Sikhism and 666 persons (13%) were of Indian descent.[1]


Permanent European settlement occurred in the 1870s when the Hofmeier family moved to the area to make their selections. Prior to this, the area was inhabited by the Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal people. The name of the town derives from the word "Wiilgulga", which was used by the local Aboriginal people to describe the area, and the Black Apple trees that grew there.[2] The name "Woogoolga" was gazetted in 1888, and changed to the current name of Woolgoolga in 1966.[3]

Timbergetting and sawmilling was established in 1883. A government jetty was constructed in 1892 upon which tramways were laid. These tramways led to sawmills in the town which in turn were connected by light railway to the Jesse Simpson Range forest areas. The jetty was demolished over a prolonged period from 1952 to 1956.[4]

Woolgoolga was an early centre of Sikh migration to Australia. Sikhs had migrated to New South Wales and Queensland prior to the imposition of the prohibition of non-European migration under the White Australia Policy in 1901 and many of them then led a marginalised life on the north coast of New South Wales and in southeastern Queensland. Some Sikhs began to settle in Woolgoolga during World War II, because war-time labour shortages led to a relaxation of the previous prohibition of non-European labour in the banana industry. After the war they were able to acquire leasehold and freehold banana plantations. Woolgoolga had the largest regional Sikh/Punjabi population in Australia,[5] and they are now said to own 90% of the banana farms and are also diversifying into blueberries.[6][7]


Woolgoolga's coastal location and temperate climate make it a popular tourist destination. The town has less traffic as it was bypassed by the Pacific Highway. Many travellers break their journey in Woolgoolga.

The headland at Woolgoolga is a great elevated platform for watching the migrating whales as they journey to warmer waters for calving.

The Sydney 2000 Olympics torch relay passed through Woolgoolga, as did the 2006 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay.

In 2011, the area hosted Rally Australia, the 10th round of the World Rally Championship. It hosted stages 22 and 25 at Plum Pudding.

Notable shipwreck[edit]

On 8 March 1893 a 39-metre vessel named Buster was driven ashore during a storm from the south-east. Buster's anchor cable snapped and its holding chains failed. The vessel eventually beached stern-first 200 metres down the beach just south of the Woolgoolga Lake mouth. The 310 ton vessel, became a total wreck at the mouth of Woolgoolga Lake. Buster was built in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1884. It arrived at Woolgoolga from Sydney in February 1893 to load timber bound for New Zealand.[8]

In May 2019 a group of people drove a stolen black Mitsubishi Pajero onto the beach and did irreparable damage to a century-old shipwreck. The perpetrators broke off the most prominent visible parts of Buster. The car was found abandoned at a nearby village.[9]


Woolgoolga has two complete Gurdwaras (temples):[6]

  • The First Sikh Temple Woolgoolga (the first purpose built Gurdwara in Australia)[10]
  • Guru Nanak Sikh Temple / Gurdwara[11] ('The Temple on the Hill')

As well as those there is another being constructed next to the First Sikh Temple.


Curryfest is the largest single gathering for the Woolgoolga community.[12] It is an annual celebration of Woolgoolga's Punjabi heritage.[13] Inaugurated in 2006 (with the help of local celebrity Jack Thompson[14] and the Woolgoolga and Northern Beaches Chamber of Commerce[15]), it is a celebration of the culture of the local Sikh community and is sponsored by the Regional Australian Bank.[16] In 2009 it became incorporated into its own identity. It still uses the name and backing of the Chamber of Commerce but now partially pays for the event itself, including through the introduction of a two-dollar entry fee in 2009.[17] Approximately 180 stalls are set up with around 16,000 attendants.[18]


Woolgoolga is home to Australia's largest Sikh/Punjabi population and has two Gurdwaras (temples).[19] The festival seeks to promote culture and business interests from this demographic in Australia. It was used as a case study for how event management has changed in the 21st century.[20]


Events include: cooking (in 2019 the celebrity chef was Justine Schofield)[21] dancing, a kids' entertainment area, mindfulness/meditation[22] space and a large stage for musical entertainment.[23] Prior to the actual event there is an assortment of activities which encourage out-of-towners to make a vacation out of the festival.[24]

The scheduled 26 September 2020 festivity was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and restricted 20-person outdoor gatherings.[25] For the 25 September 2021 event, the plan is to offer the Bollywood Express which travels from Sydney through New South Wales East Coast and ends up in Woolgoolga, Coffs Coast.[26] En route, travelers will be able to enjoy a Dholi drummer performance[27] while sitting in Indian-garland decorated carriages.[28]

Food and wine[edit]

Woolgoolga has a pub and a number of cafes and restaurants. These include: The Seaview Tavern (corner of Clarence and River Streets), also known as The Fountain on the Mountain, which is the only pub.[29] There is usually live music on Friday and Saturday nights and a function room upstairs where larger gigs take place. then there is Bluebottles Brasserie (corner of Beach Street and Lake Road) cafe which serves as a more upmarket establishment for lunch and dinner.[30] Thursday night is jazz night with live jazz music played throughout the evening. Other cafes are: Taffys, Audrey G's, Ground Earth, and The Beach House. Restaurants include: The Spice Rack, Thai Chai Yo Thai, Singhan Da Dhaba Indian and The Box Factory Burgers. There are two pizzerias: Woolgoolga Pizza Place and Riptide Pizzeria. Woolgoolga also has a Woolworths supermarket which is located right on Solitary Islands Way which was previously the Old Pacific Highway.[31]

Sporting clubs[edit]

  • Woolgoolga Seahorses (The Mighty Seahorses), a Rugby league club whose home ground is situated at the local high school's fields. They play in Group 2 Rugby League.
  • Woolgoolga United Football Club, a Soccer club situated at High Street.
  • Northern Beaches Blues Football Club, is an Australian Rules Football club located in Woolgoolga to contest the AFL North Coast competition. The Northern Beaches play their home games at Centennial Oval. Their player catchment includes Korora, Woolgoolga, Red Rock and Orara Valley.
  • Woolgoolga District Netball Association, formed in 2006 for ages 5+. WDNA has a local competition as well as representative participation in the Netball NSW State Age Championships. The clubhouse and courts are located on the corner of Nightingale and Scarborough Streets.
  • WASP (Woolgoolga Area Surfing Posse), a local boardriders club that holds annual competitions around the area.
  • Woolgoolga Surf Life Saving Club, as the name states, a Surf Lifesaving club that has been around since the 1930s, which patrols Woolgoolga Beach. It caters from ages 5–14 in Nippers, and can take part in carnivals held around the area. Ages 15+ can patrol the main beach, if they have a Surf Rescue Certificate or Bronze Medallion.
  • Northern Districts Cricket Club playing in the Coffs Harbour and Districts competition.
  • Northern Beaches Hockey Club, a hockey club that plays in Coffs Harbour near the BCU International Stadium.
  • Woolgoolga Athletics Club, a club that trains and competes in track and field, at the local high school oval across the summer months.
  • Woolgoolga White Pointers, a former Rugby Union club whose home ground is Centennial Oval

Notable current and former residents[edit]

  • Air Marshal Sir Charles Read (1919-2014) former RAAF Chief of the Air Staff[32] retired in Woolgoolga.
  • Actor Jack Thompson. Thompson has played a vital role in the organisation and running of community events both in Woolgoolga and surrounding regions.[33]
  • Emma Moffatt, two-time women's triathlon world champion, attended Woolgoolga High School
  • Former Professional Surfer Shaun Cansdell attended Woolgoolga High School.
  • Jane Richards, 2014 Hong Kong half-marathon champion, human rights campaigner and notable Ironman participant.
  • Trade diplomat and current Victorian government Commissioner to India, Michelle Wade grew up in Woolgoolga and attended the local public schools[34]
  • CEO of Choice Magazine, Alan Kirkland attended Woolgoolga High School.[35]
  • Technology entrepreneur Claes Loberg grew up in Woolgoolga and attended the local public schools.


Woolgoolga High School

Woolgoolga has three schools:

  • Woolgoolga High School (opened 1981) is a public high school.
  • Woolgoolga Public School (opened 1884) is a public primary school.
  • St Francis Xavier Primary School (opened 1994) is a Catholic primary school.

Library and cultural facilities[edit]


  • Coffs Harbour City Library and Information Service - Woolgoolga branch


  • Woolgoolga RSL Sub-branch Museum

Local media[edit]

  • Woopi News - Community magazine, hard copy, free
  • The Coffs Coast Advocate, digital subscription only
  • Fresh FM - Woolgoolga's Own Radio 87.6 fm [1] Low powered radio; streaming option


Bus and coaches[edit]


Woolgoolga Taxi Service services the local area.


The nearest station is Coffs Harbour railway station.

Air travel[edit]

The nearest airport is Coffs Harbour Regional Airport.


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Woolgoolga (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 23 March 2018. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ "Woolgoolga". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 August 2013. Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ Hayes, Matt. "Woolgoolga-Local History". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  4. ^ Longworth, Jim. "The Jetty and Sawmill Tramways of Woolgoolga", Australian Railway History, February 2007, pp.58-76
  5. ^ "Woolgoolga Curryfest-Sikh Indians-Celebrate the Cultural Diversity". Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  6. ^ a b More, Dr A; Singh, Mon. "Sikh Community at Woolgoolga". Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  7. ^ Kohn, Rachael (6 September 2004). "The Sikhs in Australia". The Ark. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  8. ^ "Shipwreck "The Buster"". 29 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Hoons may face jail for damaging historic shipwreck during beach joyride - ABC News". ABC News. May 2019.
  10. ^ "Woolgoolga". Destination NSW. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Guru Nanak Sikh Temple (Gurudwara)". Woolgoolga Heritage Walk. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  12. ^ "Woolgoolga Curryfest".
  13. ^ "Curry Festival". Woolgoolga by the Sea. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  14. ^ "A weekend in Woolgoolga on the Coffs Coast". Coastbeat. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  15. ^ "CurryFest - Woolgoolga". Arts Mid North Coast. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Page 5 - Financial news and articles for regional Australians | The Inside Story by Regional Australia Bank". Regional Australia Bank. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  17. ^ Star FM 105.5 interview 9 April 2009
  18. ^ "Curryfest: Saturday, 25th September 2021". www.accorvacationclub.com.au.
  19. ^ "Woolgoolga's Annual Curryfest Comes to Town". Coastbeat. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  20. ^ Kumar, Anuj; Agarwal, Parul (2017). "How Event Management Has Changed in 21st Century: Analysis of Woolgoolga Curryfest Festival". Rochester, NY. SSRN 3724576. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ "4 of the Most Popular Spicy Recipes from Curryfest | ETC". ETC Employment & Training. 5 October 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Woolgoolga | Light of Love - Sahaja Yoga Meditation Newsletter". www.sahajayoga.com.au. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Curryfest". Coffs Coast. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  24. ^ "Curryfest". New South Wales. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  25. ^ Media -, News of the Area-Modern (29 July 2020). "Woolgoolga Curryfest postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19". News of the Area. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  26. ^ "Bollywood Express". bollywoodexpress.com.au. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  27. ^ "Bollywood Dhol Drummers for Hire | Giardino Strings | UK". Giardino Strings. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  29. ^ "Seaview Tavern Woolgoolga". Seaview Tavern. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  30. ^ "Home". Bluebottles Brasserie. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  31. ^ "Woolworths Supermarket - Buy Groceries Online". www.woolworths.com.au. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  32. ^ Vuillermin, David, ed. (2007–2008). Who's Who in Australia 2008. North Melbourne: Crown Content. p. 1766. ISBN 978-1-74095-160-9.
  33. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ "Michelle Wade: Forging closer ties between Victoria and South Asia". Advance.
  35. ^ Dapin, Mark (3 May 2013). "Making the big choices simpler". The Sydney Morning Herald.

External links[edit]