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Past Exhibitions

Not So Solitary
18 April - 19 August 2017

Image Credit: Bronwyn Rodden​Rus Glover, 2013

Poetry, music and linocuts inspired by memories of the place now known as the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Together with historical photographs and artefacts, this exhibition draws on an extensive oral history project by the NSW Department of Primary Industries with Aboriginal knowledge holders, commercial and recreational fishers, tourism operators, divers, marine scientists, surfers and more. Explore the rich heritage of this special place where warm tropical waters meet and mix with cooler currents from the south, bringing species, people and ideas together.

This exhibition is a partnership between Coffs Harbour Regional Museum and NSW Department of Primary Industries.


Special Associated Event

Arts in the Garden

Sunday 13 August 

​ ​Image Credit: Bronwyn Rodden​Rob Toyer, 2013

An afternoon of history, music, poetry and art exploring memories of the Solitary Islands Marine Park, the 75km of coast, estuaries, reefs, islands and diverse marine life adjacent to the Coffs Coast. Featuring poetry by John Bennett, live music by 60% Water, printmaking workshops, and storytelling by participants from the Solitary Islands Marine Park Oral History Project. Bring your own picnic rug or chairs and enjoy a barbecue, drinks and afternoon tea in the Museum’s award-winning heritage gardens.  


Bananas to Beautizone: Coffs' Changing Summers
1 January - 31 March 2017
This exhibition explores how the experience of summer has changed in in the Coffs Coast region. In the first half of the 20th century, summer was a time of hard work for many residents of the Coffs Coast. Tropical fruit was one of the mainstays of the local economy and it ripened in the summer months. Growers, labourers and carriers laboured in the heat to get crops picked, packed and transported by rail to capital city markets. 

After the Second World War however, the local business community recognised the potential of tourism as a major industry for the region. The late 1950s and early 60s were a boom period. A Mid North Coast Tourist Authority formed in 1956 and the area was christened the “Pacific Beautizone”, the catchy title chosen as the winner from over 1400 entries in a competition to name the area from the Clarence to the Nambucca. 

The two industries were sometimes in conflict. Promoters of the Beautizone, for example, were not in favour of the Big Banana and the idea of agri-tourism, they wanted to promote sun, surf, relaxation and the natural assets of the area.  To them, a giant artificial banana was not a thing of beauty - it was something that “might be seen in Hawaii or Queensland” they complained. Despite their protests, the Big Banana opened in time for Christmas 1964 and was an immediate success. In its first week of operation there were 2000 visitors each day. The Coffs Harbour Advocate reported that the “horticultural mammoth … held the spotlight”. The Mid-North Coast Tourist Authority had in fact shut down a few months earlier. The concept of the Beautizone went with it.
Mary Gordon carrying bananas, 1912