Taree has become a lot better in recent years with a lot of Sydney and Newcastle money. It has the most cafes per town of the region and has some nice upscale restaurants including a new one on the river (Waterfront Bistro) and authentic Italian and Modern Japanese although meals are around $20-35.
The area simply doesn't have the economy to support anything worthwhile or interesting. It has the highest rates of unemployment and drug use in New South Wales so theft, muggings and armed robberies are common. The area lacks culture and relies heavily on its beaches to bring tourists to the area. Apart from that there is little else to do. The mid north coast has a high demographic of elderly retired people so young families are not catered for. The area has a lot of mosquitoes and ticks. I wouldn't really say there were any horrible creepy crawlies... there are a lot of leeches around the waterfalls as you would expect and a lot of flies near the dairy farms. Life there is OK. It's quiet and peaceful, but it gets very , very boring at times. I think that little kids might have fun there for a little while; however I know a lot of families are moving out of the area because there isn't anything for their kids to do. Unemployment is very high, school's are OK; but there is a lot of truancy and school dropouts. I think that for grades 3-10 it might be OK, but don't stay there too long, unless you are prepared to end up living on welfare.