YAMBA is a must do stopover for anyone driving along the northern new south wales coastline of Australia. Apart from having a couple of the best pubs on the east coast of Australia, it’s only an hour or so drive from Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and a bit more to Brisbane.
So, if being surrounded by pelicans while wetting a line or gorging yourself on fresh prawns is your thing read on. Oh, and the surrounding countryside and beaches are stunning.
Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort, Yamba
This was part of a caravan trip and the Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort was home for five nights. What an eye-opener it was to see artificial grass for caravan pads and not bare concrete – such luxury.
For those not towing a van there are villas, cabins, waterview units and even a spa villa with views. The on-site restaurant and large swimming pool and slides will satisfy even the fussiest child or adult.
Then there’s the daily Happy Hours on the jetty at sunset…..
Angourie – Surf’s Up
After a lazy start to the first day at Yamba we headed off to Angourie Beach to watch the surfers.
This beach is considered sacred by Australian surfers with advice being “the swell needs only be one or two metres for the point to start breaking, at which stage it’s rideable for surfers of most abilities. Anything bigger should only be tackled by confident board-riders”. Oh well, back to fishing rod for me!
Walking down to the beach and climbing up to the headland we spent an hour watching the surfers waiting, attempting, missing and (the lucky ones) catching, the waves. Such a fascinating sport.
Yangiri National Park – 65 Kilometre Coastal Walk
This popular walk starts from Angourie Bay Picnic Area and is worth a go if you are a true outdoorsy person and enjoy hiking and back to nature camping.
The walk is 65 kms, takes about five days (give or take) and follows both the beach and the National Park. Tents and supplies need to be carried – but what a fantastic family or friend bonding exercise this would be. (Well in theory anyway!)
I’ll stick to cycling but the beauty of the walk plus the wildlife to meet along the way should be on the bucket list of all walkers and hikers.
The race across the finishing line (for those who make it) is Red Rock. The map shows all facilities along the way as well as fitness levels recommended
The Clarence Tourism website has plenty of detailed information on this walk and other surrounding national parks.
ILUKA on the Mighty Clarence River
A ferry trip from Yamba to the neighbouring village of Iluka was next on the list. We parked our push-bikes at the front of the old-time wooden boat and sat back to enjoy the trip. This took about half an hour and was so much more enjoyable that looking out of a car window at the bitumen.
Many old photos hang on the wooden walls telling fascinating stories of days gone by and the difference of life from then to now.
Clarence River Ferries (www.clarenceriverferries.com) have a daily timetable and they even have Island Cruises on Wednesdays and Fridays and a “Sunday Live” cruise. (Obviously on Sundays)
The small village of Iluka is all about fishing and beaches. With a population of about 1800 the atmosphere is relaxed and peaceful. Cycling around the streets and along the beachfront was carefree as there was no worry of cars speeding past.
A couple of locals suggested a ride out along the beach road to the broadwater. Here we walked out to the end of the groin rock wall and watched some hopeful fishermen waiting for the big bites..
Stomach rumbles meant it was time to ride back to the old Sedgers Reef Hotel for pub grub. The hotel is quite ancient and has a run-down appearance but this the old girl has character beyond belief. The food selection is excellent and reasonably priced. With roast pork being one of daily specials there was no need to look further!
Eating lunch on the old wooden tables outside is he way to go. Sit back and enjoy the harbour views across the road and watch out for dolphins playing in the shallow water. The resident pelicans of course are meandering everywhere.
Brooms Head – Beach front Village
This is another of those unique beachfront villages that are sadly becoming all too rare.
Of interest – The name Brooms Head was first used in 1870 when a broom thought to have come from the wreck of the schooner ‘Eureka’, was washed up on the beach. These days the locals simply call the town “The Broom”
The Main Beach is in Yuraygiri National Park and has the same timeless atmosphere of neighbouring beaches. Reminded me or Ireland, the way everyone just stops what they are doing for a chat.
There’s a local bowls club and general store for lunch or snacks. We definitely didn’t need food (still stuffed from the roast Pork) so it was off to the lookout for a panoramic view of the beach. A prime spot for whale and dolphin spotting, but this wasn’t our day unfortunately. (A goodreason to return.)
Locals in the general store told us that fishing and mud-crabbing are the obvious favourite pastimes. Lake Cakora is a great place to launch a canoe – but the closest thing we had in the car that would float was an esky so had to be content with watching the activity of others. The lake extends quite a long way behind the dunes and apparently, if in a canoe, you have the chance of seeing Jabirus, swans and other wading birds out on the mudflats.
On our travels we missed out seeing the endangered coastal emu but were often surrounded by the screeching the yellow-tailed black cockatoos.
Note to all bird photographers – head to Brooms Head, New South Wales.
Next stop was Minnie Water – another haven for fishermen.
Stopping high above the beach above Minnie Lagoon we watched boats coming and going. Fascinating to see them being winched on and off the beach with little effort – admittedly we were watching from quite a distance and wouldn’t know if it was a struggle or not.
The list of fish to be caught off shore or in the river is huge and includes flathead, whiting, bream, jew, tailor and mangrove jack
The row of colourful chairs sitting on top of the headland meant this was a favourite spots for the locals to enjoy Happy Hours and sunsets.
Yet another seaside village recommended as being worthy of a peek and only a short drive off the main road. (Note to self – the word is pronounced – Wooleye and not – Woollee! I wondered why strange looks kept coming my way)
Again surrounded by Yurangir National Park, if it’s solitude and relaxation you are seeking, look no further.
A drive out to the breakwall at the mouth of the Wooli Wooli River only took a few minutes – only 2km along a narrow bar past the houses of Wooli Village. Here we chatted to a serious fisherman (Although I think they’re all serious!). He said it was a guaranteed spot to get a decent feed. The proof was in the pudding as we watched him cast out twice and bring in two decent sized Cobia. These fish are also called Black King Fish and definitely a culinary delight – we were more than a little envious.
Make sure you have a rod tucked away in the boot (which we didn’t) as The Wooli Bait & Tackle shop has every bait imaginable. The owner, Stan Young, will tell you the best locations for fishing. Talk long enough and he’ll have you out on a six hour charter with a 100% guarantee of hauling in enough fish to feed the family for months!
Each day we would return to Yamba to watch the antics of the pelicans patiently waiting at the fish cleaning table for scraps.
Mind you the choices were tough. Would we wander down the jetty to enjoy the sunset, or hop on our bikes and pedal down to the new Yamba Shores Tavern and enjoy the sunset over the water from a different angle.
Life is all about choices!
Forgot to mention the Yamba Prawns!
Cycling back to the van site from the ferry ride, we stopped in at the Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-op and bought a kg of these beauties. What a way to finish a magic day with pelicans, prawns and peace at Yamba.