At the mouth of the Clarence River on the North Coast of NSW, Yamba is the coastal destination that holiday dreams are made of. The town’s beaches are blissful, with world-beating surf breaks and marine parks that brim with dolphins, sea turtles and migrating whales – all enveloped by national parks and wilderness reserves. And the town’s dining scene steals the attention of this part of the coast, even overtaking some of its flashier neighbours.
On the water
Just south of Yamba is Angourie Point, a National Surfing Reserve ranked among the top right-hand point breaks in Australia. It’s a popular spot for experienced wave riders year round, with smaller swells also suitable for those still getting acquainted with their boards.
Meanwhile, keen anglers can catch plenty of fish either from the beach, along the estuary or off the rocks. You can hire boats or fishing kayaks, and drop into one of the numerous bait and tackle shops for tips on where the fish are biting. Both Reel Time Fishing Charters and Yamba Fishing and Charters offer expeditions out into the Pacific.
Pick up your paddle to explore waterways on a tour with Yamba Kayak, offering jaw-dropping experiences that allow you front-row, eye-to-eye encounters with dolphins along the estuary – you may even spot migrating whales, from May through November. A similar perspective is available when you cruise with Clarence River Ferries, which runs scenic jaunts and a passenger service to Iluka, on the northern side of the river.
Escape into nature
While Yamba is known for its epic beaches and waves, the surrounding countryside is just as alluring for its swathes of native forest – and all the outdoor adventures that ensue. Clamber to the Yamba Lighthouse, and then continue south on the 65km Yuraygir coastal walk all the way to Red Rock, following ancient emu trails in the Yuraygir National Park.
Seaside villages such as Brooms Head dot your route, which ends in the hamlet of Wooli, its narrow peninsula surrounded by forest, beaches and the Wooli Wooli River (known for providing perfect growing conditions for Sydney rock oysters). Just offshore, the Solitary Islands Marine Park covers 71,000 hectares, the protected reserve a haven for coral, fish, dolphins, grey nurse sharks and whales during migration. Snorkel or dive this immense ecosystem with Wooli Dive Centre.
Eat, drink, be merry
If you can drag yourself away from the beach, Yamba delivers a thriving food scene and an events calendar filled with festivals, markets and sports. Sample all the best locally caught seafood – including famous Yamba prawns – at fish shops and restaurants around town. Don’t miss a meal at the 1934-built Pacific Hotel, where your ocean views are matched with a menu that pays homage to the region’s produce. Can’t bear to leave? Your room awaits.
Getting there & where to stay
It’s a scenic 7.5hr drive north from Sydney to Yamba, or 3.5hr south from Brisbane. You can also fly into the Clarence Valley Regional Airport on the outskirts of Grafton and hire a car for the 50min drive north. When you arrive, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options, from campgrounds and holiday parks to an award-winning youth hostel, farmstays and luxury retreats.