Set on a narrow three-kilometre peninsula, the tiny town of Wooli is practically an island. On the North Coast of NSW, just a 40min drive southeast of Grafton in the Clarence Valley, the finger of land is wedged between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Wooli Wooli River to the west and south. Naturally, life here revolves around the water, whether you’re surfing, swimming and fishing, or cruising around the immense Solitary Islands Marine Park,
On the water
Wooli is legendary among avid anglers, who come here to cast a line into the estuary or ocean from the beach, breakwater and boats – charter a vessel from Wooli River Boat Hire to explore calm waterways. Bring your appetite; the oysters and mud-crabs harvested here are stand-outs.
The estuary’s mirror-like conditions also make it ideal for kayaking and paddleboarding, with equipment available for rent from Stellar Water Sports. While you glide, keep watch for stingrays and turtles swimming below, kangaroos beside you on the banks and yellow-tailed black cockatoos overhead.
In the water
Wooli Beach curves 6.6km from the breakwater north to Wilsons Headland. Waves crashing to shore at the southern end of the sand, near the breakwall, are reliably good, attracting surfers year-round. From May through November you’ll likely spot whales breaching and blowing offshore, with Wooli Dive Centre getting you close to the action on scenic cruises, as well as diving and snorkelling expeditions.
The ocean enveloping the Solitary Islands – just a 20min boat trip away – is a wonderland for 90 species of hard coral and 550 types of reef fish. The best way to appreciate this vast marine bounty is with your head under water, so jump overboard to dive and snorkel with tropical and subtropical fish.
Nature reigns supreme back on land as well, as Wooli is almost completely surrounded by Yuraygir National Park, stretching from Yamba in the north to Red Rock in the south. The park is home to 65km of striking cliffs, rocky headlands and beaches backdropped by wildlife-rich forest, heaths and wetlands.
You can also spot whales in season, plus dolphins and turtles year-round, from the 3km Wilsons Headland walking track, which hugs the coast and leads you past blissful beaches and quiet coves, inviting you to cool off with a swim.
Getting there & where to stay
Wooli is a 6.5hr drive north from Sydney or a four-hour drive south from Brisbane. You can also fly into the Clarence Valley Region Airport and hire a car for the 30min drive to the coast. When you arrive, riverside accommodation offerings await near town, including cottages and self-contained apartments, as well as options to the north at Diggers Camp and Minnie Water, two beachside villages close to national park campgrounds.