Iluka is nestled at the mouth of Australia’s largest east coast river, the Clarence River, on the NSW North Coast. Sitting in between kilometres of empty beaches and UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforest, this charming little fishing village is the ultimate beach retreat.
Things to do
Escape into nearby Iluka Nature Reserve and go boating, fishing and surfing. You can hire kayaks and stand-up paddleboards from AAA Kayak Tours and explore the river, including swimming with wild dolphins. Clarence River Ferries offers scenic cruises and a passenger service to Yamba, on the southern side.
Iluka is home to NSW’s largest remaining seaside rainforest, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Wander under a canopy of prehistoric trees on the Iluka Rainforest walking track. The 2.6km walk takes you out to the stunning Iluka Bluff lookout, the perfect place for whale watching between May and November.
For the juiciest Yamba prawns and other seafood caught by the local fishing fleet, call in at the Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-op on Queen Street. It’s just a quick walk to the estuary entrance’s breakwater, a great spot for surfing and fishing.
Bluff Beach is a pristine white sandy beach, sheltered from southerly swells by the Iluka Bluff. There are beachside picnic tables at the southern end, where you can access the lookout and the rainforest track. The beach sweeps 1.2km north to Frazers Reef, a great place for sunbaking or ocean swimming
There are more empty beaches just out of town, as well as the Woody Head campground and cabins north of Frazers Reef in the southern section of Bundjalung National Park. At Shark Bay drive your 4WD vehicle onto the beach at low tide and head north along Ten Mile Beach.
Getting there and where to stay
Iluka is a 7h 30min drive north of Sydney or three hours’ drive south of Brisbane. You can also fly into Clarence Valley Regional Airport near Grafton, a one-hour drive to the southwest. You’ll find accommodation options to suit various budgets in Iluka, including waterside apartments, motels and holiday parks.