VIEW POINT: Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce committee member Callan Bailey gets a briefing on the Roberts Hill Lookout plan from Neil Manson.
VIEW POINT: Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce committee member Callan Bailey gets a briefing on the Roberts Hill Lookout plan from Neil Manson. Trevor Veale

Lookout Coffs: How the city can bypass economic downturn

COFFS Harbour wouldn't need a $100,000 tourism marketing campaign to sell itself if it's showcasing its multi-million dollar view.

That's the opinion of businessman Neil Manson, who is calling on the State Government and Roads and Maritime Services to consider building a lookout above the city on the preferred bypass route.

Do you support calls for a lookout to be built overlooking Coffs Harbour as part of the city's Pacific Hwy bypass?

This poll ended on 10 August 2020.

Current Results

Yes, the view from Roberts Hill would best market Coffs


Yes, but at another location close to the bypass route




No, I do not support the Roberts Hill lookout proposal


No, I don't see economic return from a lookout off the bypass


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

With $971million in Federal funds committed to the project - seeing a start to construction in 2020 - already business leaders are urging the community to consider the economic impact Coffs Harbour may face when bypassed by the national motorway.

But for Neil the solution is simple, build an iconic lookout with a view and Coffs Harbour will remain in the minds of travellers.


View from Roberts mountain from proposed lookout area.. 08 AUG 2018
The panoramic view from Roberts Hill over the city and the coastline, a short distance from the RMS' route for the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass. Trevor Veale

Looking back from Muttonbird Island, Roberts Hill is without question the focal point; rising over the city centre offering the greatest view of the Coffs Harbour coastline.

Standing on top of the ridgeline you can really appreciate the potential of having an iconic lookout built overlooking the city once the Pacific Highway bypass of Coffs Harbour is completed.

After conceiving the idea Neil Manson, from The Observatory Apartments at the Jetty, has pressed the case, making representations to the State Government through Roads Minister Melinda Pavey while winning the support of the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce.

He said Roberts Hill, mostly a preserved koala corridor, offered the perfect opportunity to build a loop road to a lookout and rest stop running off the preferred route for the Coffs Harbour Bypass.

This will see a 14km four lane deviation from the current Englands Rd roundabout to the foothills under Sealy Lookout.


View from Roberts mountain from proposed lookout area.. 08 AUG 2018
The vista from Roberts Hill. Trevor Veale

From the existing highway, let's face it, the only indication unassuming southbound travellers get that they are literally a left turn from paradise is the fleeting view of the Harbour and the Jetty Foreshores from the Big Banana Hill.

If motorists travelling from the north, are unfamiliar with Coffs, then it might be a matter of whether they see the tourism signage.

"After being bypassed, most towns go through two or three years of reinventing themselves," Neil said.

"Coffs Harbour has got the opportunity to not have years in the doldrums once the bypass is built.

"We have the chance to pay off the impact as fast as the tourist's return journey.

"If anyone ever drives the South Coast the iconic place to stop is the Bulli Lookout.

"Once they are stopped they usually go to the restaurant and bar next door.

"If this can be the iconic look out of the North Coast and if it sells Coffs Harbour and provides employment, then I think it is a wonderful thing.

"This lookout could be done using council-owned land sitting off the existing Coffs Harbour Bypass corridor to be used by the RMS

"Roberts Hill itself is owned by Coffs Harbour Council and was acquired some years ago by the environmental fund.

"This land was purchased as a koala corridor," he said.

"So if the loop road and lookout are done sensibly, there would be nothing better for Coffs Harbour for travellers to stop and have a coffee, enjoy the vista from a café providing local employment, take in the view to the ocean and maybe cut their trip short right here after seeing the harbour and the foreshores.

"There are people who have driven through for many years who don't know what lies to the east.

"The beauty of the coast of course is our ocean outlook and our vistas - this will showcase that magnificently."

The Advocate likes the idea so much we are throwing it over to you the readers to decide whether Coffs Harbour needs this forward thinking tourist attraction.

We have a poll running on our website today and we encourage you to vote in favour or against the proposal.

As Neil said, for the idea of a Roberts Hill lookout to be approved and funded it would need a grassroots campaign to lobby the State Government and RMS.

The bypass is built once and is a perfect chance for Coffs to sell itself with the right planning.

What is being proposed is a loop road exiting the new highway route, running across the top of Roberts Hill and taking in one of the best views of the coastline.