Clarence River

Our edi­tor takes the fam­ily on a 4WD trail along this beau­ti­ful NSW wa­ter­way.

Caravan, Camping and Holiday Parks with Kids - - Contents -

Plan­ning a full day’s drive to get to your hol­i­day spot with three kids un­der six years of age needs to be done care­fully. Snacks, drinks, toys, mu­sic and (if you have an in-car DVD player) movies, need to be care­fully thought out and se­lected to keep ev­ery­one happy. Memo to self – be sure and pack them in an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble lo­ca­tion next time, not in the bot­tom bag at the back of your camper trailer!

We reached our des­ti­na­tion at 7pm af­ter a full days’ drive from Syd­ney, and in the mid­dle of the most ter­rific thun­der­storm the kids had seen. The camp­ground at Woody Head was fairly full con­sid­er­ing the weather, but the chal­lenges of set­ting up with dark­ness only a few min­utes away in the pour­ing rain were deemed avoid­able, and we de­cided to head into town in search of more com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for the first night, and re­assess in the morn­ing.

We struck gold just two kilo­me­tres down the road at the Iluka Mo­tel, where owner Les handed over the keys to a fam­ily room with kitchen and bath­room, a queen bed, two sin­gles and a couch. Within five min­utes, we had sausages cook­ing in the fry­pan for din­ner, and the kids were get­ting bathed and changed into their pj’s, be­fore set­tling down to a movie and then a com­fort­able night’s sleep.

The next morn­ing dawned with a bright blue sky and few signs of the previous night’s down­pour. Af­ter a quick break­fast and thank you to Les, we were back at the camp­site and set­ting up for the next three days. Ad­min­is­tered by NSW Na­tional Parks, Woody Head Camp­ground is lo­cated in Bund­jalung Na­tional Park, and has plenty of spots for tents, camper trail­ers, car­a­vans, and there are even a few fam­ily cab­ins for those who don’t want to give up all of the crea­ture com­forts.

The boys came back hav­ing spot­ted a bush turkey, plenty of birds in­clud­ing a sea ea­gle, and the res­i­dent kan­ga­roos.

The ameni­ties are clean and mod­ern with flush­ing toi­lets and coin op­er­ated hot show­ers – a 20 cent coin buys two min­utes of hot wa­ter. There is an un­der­cover area with pic­nic ta­bles, and also free gas BBQs po­si­tioned with full views of the ocean. In fact, one of the best fea­tures of Woody Head has to be its po­si­tion. Many of the camp­sites also have views out to the ocean, and there is a beach, a boat ramp and plenty of rock pools.

We had our camper trailer set-up in no time, and the boys took to their bikes to ex­plore the rest of the park. They came back hav­ing spot­ted a brush turkey, kan­ga­roos, a sea ea­gle, and a plover with its nest built right next to an empty camp site.

By 10am, we de­cided to take a short drive around to Yamba as we had heard that the lo­cal mar­kets there were very good. Not hav­ing done a full shop for the trip yet, we thought this may work in our favour. My brain must have been in hol­i­day mode al­ready though, as it didn’t oc­cur to me un­til it was too late that my wife might also see this as an op­por­tu­nity for some other ‘com­pletely nec­es­sary’ pur­chases and be­fore I knew it, there were bags with new shoes, a cou­ple of dresses and some lo­cal craft knick knacks that ap­par­ently would be per­fect for Christ­mas presents.

Af­ter the mar­kets, we ex­plored Yamba beach and the rocky fore­shore, be­fore climb­ing up to the light­house to en­joy the view from the top of the hill. It’s easy to see why Yamba is one of the most pop­u­lar hol­i­day spots on the North Coast.

Af­ter some late-night s’mores and a great night’s sleep, we woke to a pic­ture-per­fect morn­ing and took the op­por­tu­nity to hike through the coastal rain­for­est just around the head­land. The start of the hike is on the out­skirts of Iluka vil­lage, and fin­ishes at the bluff look­out, which has fan­tas­tic views of the whole coast­line across to Yamba. It is also the per­fect place to go whale watch­ing. The hike is less than 3km one way, and is a very easy grade with no el­e­vated sec­tions un­til you come to the climb up to the look­out on the bluff.

We spent the rest of the day re­lax­ing, and a late af­ter­noon fish yielded a few small bream, but it was all catch and re­lease. It did pro­vide the in­spi­ra­tion for a seafood din­ner though, and we headed down the road to Clarence River Fish­er­men’s Co-Op that evening to sam­ple some Yamba prawns, re­puted as the best in NSW.

Our fi­nal morn­ing had us ex­plor­ing the lo­cal bays by kayak thanks to Ge­off Warne who runs Ac­tion Adventure Ac­tiv­i­ties at Iluka. Ge­off also does bike and scooter hire, and stand up pad­dle boards, so fam­i­lies can re­ally get out and ex­plore the area. My two sons, Ryan (6) and Noah (5), and I were soon surf­ing the small waves down to the beach and en­joy­ing gaz­ing through the crys­tal clear wa­ter at the sea life be­low. We were told there is a res­i­dent turtle who lives just off the point, but didn’t catch sight of him this trip.

On the way home we passed mas­sive fields of sugar cane (we stopped at one so the kids could see where sugar came from) for which the Clarence river flats are well known, and stopped by the Clarence River Vis­i­tor Cen­tre. The cen­tre is well stocked with in­for­ma­tion and lovely staff who are very help­ful.

It is easy to see why Iluka is a pop­u­lar spot for fam­i­lies. Per­fect for both week­end es­capes or long fam­ily hol­i­days, I don’t think you could ever tire of spend­ing time here.



02 01 The fish­ing is great 02 Lo­cal paths are easy enough for lit­tle legs to tackle 03 Smile ev­ery­one! 04 Kayak­ing on Woody Bay 05 The views are sim­ply beau­ti­ful



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