Hampton Hotel Coramba NSW
17 Gale St, Coramba, NSW Phone: 02 6654 4216
Not too sure what I think about ‘Coramba’ as a town name. It sounds more like a dance along the lines of the Macarena. “We knocked back a couple of Caipiroskas and then danced the Coramba all night!” Yeah I can believe that!
Or maybe a Coramba is the drink itself….. “We had a great surf and then drank Corambas with lime in the neck til we couldn’t stand up!” Yep, that sounds reasonable.
Or maybe as a euphemism for testicles….. “Why don’t you grow a set Corambas and tell your boss what you really think?” Sounds totally apposite!
But, “I’m going to be sleeping in Coramba tonight,” just seems a bit, well, weird!
I was thinking this stuff as I wound my way through the back way from Dorrigo on dirt road made slippery from recent rains until I hit that fabulous stretch of tar from Ulong back to the Orara Way. From there it was a turn south and a quick zip down to this testicularly termed town.
And it was cold! So I parked the Super Tenere outside the pub but walked back up the bakery/café two doors up. The central attraction of this family run place is an elegant wood fired pizza oven and that, I thought, would be just the trick to kick start the central heating.
‘No can do’, demurred the young lady behind the counter, the Council had forced them to close it down. Huh? Seems that in this small village without too much to do, the locals took to the fresh wood-fired pizzas like papparazi to a film star. Russell Crowe who’s got a slum just up the road would drop by with his cronies when he was in town and so each evening the footpath would be clogged with locals and visitors, hoi polloi and hot properties all chatting and eating and pumping money into the town’s tiny economy.
Coffs Council frowned on this! Their efforts seemed totally focussed on getting money into Coughsarbour and so arcane rules were pushed and the oven closed. Great job!
(Well may you wonder why Coffs will soon be the only town on the Pacific Hwy which does not have a bypass!)
So, after a decent coffee and an enjoyable pastie I headed back to the pub to find my bike getting a close inspection from one of the locals. Well not just one of the locals, but Mark the publican who, it turned out, owns the very same model Yamaha.
We chatted for a bit and then went into the bar where a raging fire was spreading warmth like Gideons spread bibles.
Now there’re a few indicators which immediately cough up clues about the my chances of having a good time at a country pub: Money and phones left alone and unguarded on the bar whilst the owners are off for a pee or a smoke; respect and reverence for the pub’s history shown through memorabilia and photos around the place; the looks of the locals and the staff when I first walk in; and most of all, whether the place is being run by the publican/licensee rather than a manager.
This place ticked all the boxes in no time flat. A couple of “G’day’s” from some locals sitting below a massive wall filled with old photos of the pub and its surrounds was followed by Tracie behind the bar responding with, “Well you must be Colin,” when I told her I had a room booked for the night. You never expect the red carpet, but those tiny personal touches make all the difference.
And of course, there was Mark, the publican in the background. Not a single drink went across the bar without some banter, some comment and usually a laugh. I warmed up and unloaded my gear from the bike into my digs in room 4.
There’s just five rooms here: three with a double bed, one twin and one single and all with the going rate of 35 bucks per head. It was too early to call it a day so I turned on my room’s oil heater and geared up. I figured the fire in the bar was hot enough to thaw any chill so I headed out on a quick loop of Nana Glen and Bucca Rd. The overhead cloud served to flatten out the light through the tall timber and picking the lines on these fun roads was smooth and pleasant. In no time I was back at the pub.
This time I parked the bike around the back of the pub under a sky sail near my room although I could’ve locked it into the shed.
If you hate those bloody pubs which are little more than TAB’s – where endless race-calls invade and overpower every conversation in the place? Well the Hampton is not one of those. The TAB area is up the front and all the sound is turned down so only the gamblers can hear it. The pokies are in a room down the back and again their dumb electronic muzak has been severely muted. So too the only pub in the bar which was showing the footy.
The result of all this was that a young group of fem touch players dropped in for a couple of post match drinks and they sat right next to a party of maybe a dozen who were celebrating a five year olds birthday whilst down the back a group in onesies was marking a 25th, a group was hitting the pool tables and an overflow of kids was running rampant with the contents of a large toy box.
You can see this is a hub-pub, the social epicentre of this town where everyone has a good time.
The kitchen is open Tuesday to Sunday and, run by an expert Thai Chef, it features good Aussie and Thai specials. I remembered the laksa I’d had on my previous visit and so re-ordered it. Wow! It was great! Warmed me from the inside out and in about an hour I’d gone from chill to toasty.
The pub also sells pizzas every day so you’ll still get a feed on Mondays. All evening there was a steady stream of locals who’d rung in their orders dropping in to collect their takeaways. Was good to see but I kept thinking how much better it would’ve been if that oven up the road was also firing.
On the bar is a small folder with guides to the area including the AMM guide to Dorrigo and Nana Glen published in our issue 6. What great use of our mag! At the entry to the residential area is another stand with photocopies of our pullout guide.
Back in my room I could hear scant of the noise from the bar and at night there was zero traffic disturbance. The room had a huge wardrobe which I think is totally wasted space and there were no hangers or hooks for my gear so it all spent another night on the floor!
There’s no common room at the pub and no tea or coffee making stuff. Like a good few country publications Mark tries to push his guests to spread the joy and the cash and so encourages you to breakfast up at the café which is open from 6.30 weekdays and from 7.30 on weekends.
In the morning the hot water in the shower is a long time coming but when it arrives it’s sure hot enough and with good pressure. The bathrooms are well maintained and clean.
The Hampton Hotel at Coramba is missing a couple of things that even a pub charging so little really should have: Hooks and hangers and some instant tea and coffee would be a good (and cheap) start. But when I switch to glass half full mode and think of the friendliness of the entire pub, the attitude of Mark and Vanessa the owners, the comfort and quiet of the room, plus the great surrounding riding, it’s difficult to understand why the occupancy rates here are way down. Coramba is pretty close to 400km south of Brisbane so if you are riding between Sydney and Brisvegas you should consider staying at the Hampton.
The Hampton rated 71/117 points on our scale putting it in the 3 silver helmet category, but its cheap room rate gave us a value rating of over 200 where anything over 100 is good.
This review is available at my website: www.motorbikenation.com. Other pubs newly reviewed and listed on the site this month include: Condamine Hotel, Theodore Hotel and the Railway Hotel at Baan Baa.