A string of jewels

Diamond — Emerald — Sapphire — Opal. The Coffs Coastline was once a string of jewels. But where are they now?

Behind each headland on the Coffs Coast lurks a history of derring do, making do, and pushing boundaries – political, environmental, social. Their names, on other hand, reflect the enticement of the climate and lifestyle.


Captured in the name of the Road which leads to the suburb of Sandy Beach, Diamond Head was originally the name of headland at the southern end of Sandy Beach, possibly given by an early developer. Perhaps the potential developer noted the sparkling nature of the sea during the winter months of cloudless skies?

Coffs Harbour Advocate, 29 April 1982, p.1

Robinson’s tourist complex did not eventuate in this location, and the beach’s  name became the suburb’s name instead.


Look-At-Me-Now Headland, famous for its protests against ocean outfalls of sewage during the early 1990s, is encompassed by the expanding suburb of Emerald Beach. Every age group in the population was in attendance to make their feelings known about the possibility of beaches covered with excrement.

Protestor in a Look-At-Me-Now headland protest T-shirt, 25 November 1991 Coffs Collections, https://coffs.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/76382
A tepee of protest, 25 November 1991 Coffs Collections, https://coffs.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/76314

The protests were ultimately successful – the outlet was placed elsewhere and the beach retained its beauty.

Aerial view of Emerald Beach, 10 March 1992 Coffs Collections, https://coffs.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/54801


Sapphire was the name of a property owned by the Williamson family. They moved to the area in 1958 and painted the roof of their home sapphire blue,  to match the colour of the sea. After only two years the property was sub-divided for housing. But much of the string of jewels has been kept accessible to the general public. The Sapphire Gardens Caravan Park, five miles north of Coffs Harbour, was one such location adjacent to the beach.

Foldout postcard booklet 19.725-1, in Coffs Collections at https://coffs.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/59800
Sapphire Gardens souvenir teaspoon, m2021.51.3 in Coffs Collections at https://coffs.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/71790
Foldout postcard booklet 19.725-1, in Coffs Collections at https://coffs.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/59800

The beach and surrounds became a suburb in August 1999. It is bounded by White Bluff and Green Bluff.


Opal Cove Resort has retained its status as a place for holidays and conventions as well as fundraisers. Two committed residents were Adelie Hurley and Toni Mooy (nee Hurley) – known as the Banana Twins – and they did an extraordinary job promoting the Coffs Coast.

Adelie and Toni dressed for a Pharaoh’s Night fundraiser for children at Opal Cove Resort, May 1989. In Coffs Collections at https://coffs.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/54008

Prior to the development of the Resort, the site was home to the Banana Bowl Caravan Park. It was managed by the Hill family. In 1988, John Hill spoke of his life at the heart of this jewel.

Foldout postcard booklet 19.725-1, in Coffs Collections at https://coffs.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/59800

Collectively, the names were always going to inspire:

Bananacoast Opinion, 1 November 1973, p.13 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/254794608