“Coffs Harbour. Its Phenomenal Growth, Great Future Possibilities Summarised.”

Do you recognise this booklet? 

We are searching for the provenance of a booklet promoting Coffs Harbour. The page numbers start at page 50 and end at page 103, with some missing in between, so it is clearly part of a larger publication. There is no date anywhere in the booklet, or obvious clue as to the title of the publication it was extracted from.   

Coffs Harbour Chapter. Coffs Collections, LS2023.34.1 

The title of the chapter in our possession is “Coff’s Harbour. Its Phenomenal Growth, Great Future Possibilities Summarised.It discusses the economic and societal growth of the Coffs Harbour region, with subheadings covering, among others, the North Coast Railway, the timber industry, the fishing industry and the Chamber of Commerce. This brings us to our first clue as to the date.  

On page 79 there is a picture of some of the members of the Chamber of Commerce. Again, it does not give us a date, however a search of Coffs Collections yields several results, one of which matches the picture in the booklet. This gives us a definitive date for our document – 1917. 

Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce, 1917. Coffs Collections, 12.329. 

An attempt was made by The Bananacoast Opinion to identify the book in 1974. We are hoping to have more luck. If you recognise it, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you! 

1917 – The year that was. 

A brief snapshot of Coffs Harbour in 1917. 

28th June 1917 

On a day typical of Coffs Harbour in winter, with fresh air and blue sky, Mr R.T. Ball, Minister for Works, tipped the first stone of the Eastern Breakwater. A public holiday had been approved [1] in celebration of the day, and across the town was an air of jubilance. Mr P.J MacNamara, secretary of the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce, commented that it was a matter of congratulations for the people of region that that within a period of five years, construction had commenced on the railway as well as the Eastern Breakwater.  

Laying of the first stone on the Eastern Breakwater, 28 June 1917. Coffs Collections, mus07-3467. 

8th September 1917 

Coffs Harbour’s brass band, The Town Band, is believed to have been established around 1906, though by 1915 it was unfortunately defunct [2].   

In 1917, a call out was made by Mr J. Pike for parties interested in re-establishing a brass band in Coffs Harbour. A ‘fair number’ of people answered the call, and the Coffs Harbour Town Band was re-formed. The band still exists today, now known as the Coffs Regional Brass Band. 

Coffs Harbour District Band, c.1917. Coffs Collections, mus07-1443. 

19th December 1917 

After eight years of community fundraising, the Coffs Harbour and District Hospital opened on 19th December 1917. The original site was on the block bounded by Victoria, Boambee, Dibbs and High Streets. The hospital was opened by Mr C.W. Oakes, M.L.A. (Member of the Legislative Assembly) in front of a large crowd.  

 By 1927, the hospital was struggling to cover costs, so a scheme was devised in order to keep it operational.  As the town grew, so did the demand for hospital beds. In 1963 a new 20 bed maternity ward was opened at the site of the old hospital [3]. In 1970 a new, more modern hospital was built, and the original was demolished.  

Opening of the Women’s ward at the Coffs Harbour Hospital, 1928. Coffs Collections, mus07-4006 

By Belinda Lancey


  1. Rooksbury, M. (2007). 1917. 100 Years of News: A history of the Coffs Coast from the pages of The Advocate. Coffs Collections, LS2023.10.1 
  2. Yeates, N. (1990). Coffs Harbour, Volume I: Pre-1880- 1945. Coffs Harbour City Council. 
  3. Yeates, N. (1993). Coffs Harbour, Volume II: 1946 – 1964. Coffs Harbour City Council.