Yamba

Yamba (including Angourie)
Attractive fishing village and holiday destination on the far north coast.
Located 682 km north-east of Sydney, 18 km north-east of Maclean and 29 m above sea-level, Yamba is a quiet seaside town on the southern side of the Clarence River estuary. Opposite, on the northern side of the river mouth, is Iluka.

Yamba is economically driven by its substantial fishing fleet (the Clarence River is a major source of the nation's seafood) and its capacity to draw those looking for a relatively quiet holiday destination beside the sea. Of course, some of those leisure-seekers are also drawn by the fish.

The area was occupied by the Yaygir or Bundjalang Aborigines at the time of European colonisation. These people lived within a fairly small, well-defined area as the plenitude of resources negated the need for lengthy migrations. It also appears to have rendered them healthier and taller than inland groups while their semi-sedentary lifestyle reputedly fostered a superior material culture (manifest in the quality of the domiciles, utensils, baskets and fishing nets etc). European observers spoke highly of their crafts, skills, mores, artefacts and intelligence. While they coexisted peacefully with the timbergetters and pastoralists, the advent of agriculture with the free selectors of the 1860s destroyed their hunting grounds and decimated the culture of the original inhabitants.

Matthew Flinders investigated the river mouth in 1799. He landed on the southern headland near the present-day site of Yamba and wrote about the lifestyle of the Aborigines he came in contact with. However, he found the waters shallow and dismissed the whole area as 'deserving of no more than a superficial examination'. In fact, Flinders mistook the inlet for a coastal bay and did not imagine there was a major river nearby.

It is thought that convict escapees from Moreton Bay passed through the area in the late 1820s and early 1830s. One of their number, Richard Craig, reported a big river and a plenitude of valuable timber when he arrived at Port Macquarie in 1832. He was later employed by a Thomas Small of Sydney who, inspired by Craig's reports, sent off his brother and two dozen sawyers on board the schooner, the Susan, to the 'Big River', as it was initially known. It was the first European vessel to enter the river. Other cedar-cutters followed in their wake. Small took up a large parcel of land on Woodford Island, opening the way for other landholders. Governor Gipps named the river the Clarence in 1839.

A pilot station was established on the future townsite in 1854 to aid vessels in crossing the river bar which was a major obstacle to navigation for many years.

The townsite was surveyed in 1861 and growing commercial traffic saw work begin on the construction of a breakwater at the mouth of the river in 1862. The consequent influx of workers and their families fostered the emergence of commercial enterprises to meet their needs. The Woolli Hotel and the first post office opened in 1862, the first school in 1868, an Anglican church in 1871 and, in 1879, the first police station and lighthouse. The latter was replaced in 1956.

Although the village had been gazetted as Yamba in 1864, 'Clarence River Heads' was the name the government bestowed upon the pilot station, post office, school and police station. Meanwhile the locals referred to the area as 'Woolli Woolli' or 'Wooli'. The confusion was only resolved when the name 'Yamba' was officially proclaimed in 1885. The meanings attributed to this Aboriginal word are various.

The population of the settlement varied according to whether harbour works were in progress or not. Thus the figure of 200 was put forward in 1862 and this had dropped to 60 in 1866. The Australian Handbook recorded the population as 35 in 1876 with 70 in the district. At that time there were three inns but no public buildings except the home of the resident engineer. By 1885 there were about 340 in the district. The township had two inns, a police quarters and lock-up, and two stores.

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By 1891 the Australian Handbook had changed its description of the town from 'a post town and telegraph office' to 'a favourite seaside resort', suggesting the recent emergence of tourism. By this time there were 120 in the town which boasted 'a large boarding house, two large hotels, two small stores, post, money order, and a telegraph office, gaol, lighthouse and a public school with an average attendance exceeding 24'.

After further work on the breakwater commenced in 1893 the numbers swelled to 350, dropping to 250 when that work ended in 1903. The town's population reached 689 in 1919 and its reputation as a holiday destination was assisted by the arrival of the Sydney railway at South Grafton in 1923. However, the poor quality of the roads, dramatic sand drifts which threatened to bury parts of the town, the Depression and World War II retarded development and growth. Further harbour works were carried out from 1952 until 1971 and infrastructural improvements at this time saw a steady growth from about 1000 people in the late 1960s to the present 4572, although that number swells dramatically if temporarily in holiday periods.

The town's reputation for recreational fishing was greatly encouraged by the inauguration of an annual fishing contest in 1958, initially hosted by famous radio personality, Jack Davey, who retreated to Yamba to relax and fish. The Yamba Family Fishing Festival is now held in September or October.

The first shipment of fish to Sydney occurred in 1884. Prawn trawling commenced in 1946 and has steadily expanded to the point where over 600 tonnes of prawns are now trawled each year, together with 1300 tonnes of fish. Clarence oysters have also supplied the nation since at least the 1880s. Sand mining was also a major industry from 1934-1943 and again in the early 1970s.

Things to see:

Tourist Information
The Lower Clarence Information Centre at Maclean can furnish information regarding deep-sea fishing charters, a self-drive tour of significant Aboriginal sites in the area, whale-watching cruises, farm and industry tours and the hiring-out of houseboats, fishing boats, surfskis, catamarans, sailboards, jet-skis, canoes, rowboats, motorboats, paddle boats and paddlebikes, tel: (02) 6645 4121.

The information centre has tide charts and guides to fishing, though these should also be obtainable from the marina. They also have a brochure entitled "Historical Walk Around Yamba" which is also available at the Story House Museum.

Yamba Lighthouse
Yamba Lighthouse, on South Head, stands 41 m above the sea, offering fine views of the coastline (it is a popular whale-watching site in the winter months). Its beams can be seen 17 km out to sea. The lighthouse is situated on Pilot Hill at the end of Pilot St on South Head. Nearby is a replica of the original 1879 lighthouse erected by volunteers for use as a community radio station.

Beaches
Yamba has a number of beaches which are ideal for swimming and surfing. Yamba Beach (patrolled in summer) is the main beach in town. It has a rock pool for safe swimming and is located on the southern side of the South Head lighthouse, below Flinders Park. On the other side of the lighthouse (nestled in the elbow formed by the junction of South Head and the eastern side of the main breakwall) is Turner's Beach which is also patrolled in summer. Whiting Beach is a stillwater river beach which is suitable for young children. It extends from the western side of the breakwall out along the sand spit known as Hickey Island. Convent Beach extends eastwards from the rock pool at the eastern edge of Yamba Beach to Yamba Point. On the other side of Yamba Point is Pippi Beach (also patrolled in summer) which extends south to Angourie.

Ferry
The Yamba to Iluka ferry operates daily from the River St wharf. There are also river cruises to Harwood Island on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and another company has also opened offering river cruises. Contact Clarence River Ferries on (02) 6646 6423 or 018 664 556 for details of departure times.

Yamba Museum - The Story House 
Yamba Museum - the Story House is a museum offering the visitor a journey through the history of Yamba township and its strong maritime associations. Exhibitions focus on Yamba's association with the Clarence River and its people. The museum is located in River Street, next door to the Golf Club. It is open Tuesday, Wednesday 10.00 a.m. -4.30 p.m. and Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 2.00 p.m. - 4.30 p.m. (Daylight Saving Closing 5.00 p.m.). For more information contact (02) 6646 1399.

Yuraygir National Park
Turn off the Yamba Rd (at the Pegasus Motel) and head south along the Angourie Road. Just before you reach Angourie turn right onto Lakes Boulevarde. After about 500 m a sign directs you into the park. After about 1.5 km there is a turnoff on the right to Mara Creek, from whence a pedestrian suspension bridge leads to some picnic facilities.

The 10-km Angourie Walking Track starts at Mara Creek Picnic Area, heading south past Woody Bluff, Dirrangan Lookout, Shelley Beach, Shelley Headland (the latter two have walk-in camping facilities), Caves Beach, Plumbago Head (more walk-in camping facilities) and Plumbago Beach to Lake Arragan Rest Area (see entry on Maclean). Considered one of the finest coastal walks in the country, it is best in spring and early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom, drawing the maximum of birdlife.

If you ignore this turnoff to Mara Creek, the main access road continues on to Angourie Bay Picnic Area. Some of the coast's best surfing is to be had at Angourie Point, adjacent this picnic area.

Angourie
5 km south of Yamba (at the other end of the beach) is the small settlement of Angourie which in recent times has become a popular haunt for itinerant surfers. It is tiny but still has its own surfboard manufacturer demonstrating where the town's priorities lie.

Entering the town there are signs to the Lookout, which overlooks the beach and headland where most of the surfing is done, and the Blue Pools, an interesting and large rock pool set in bushland just behind the beach. It was created when a rock quarry filled with freshwater from a subterranean spring. The quarry supplied the material for Yamba's breakwater. In fact the Angourie Rd was established in the 1890s as a tramway route for the transportation of the stone.

Ferry Park Visitor Information Centre

Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6645 4121

Aston Villa Motor Inn
3 Mulgi St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2785
Rating: ****

Yamba Sun Motel
Cnr Wooli & Claude Sts
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2144
Facsimile: (02)6645 8222
Email: yambasunmotel@big.net.au
Rating: ***1/2

Moby Dick Waterfront Resort Motel
Yamba Rd
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2196

Oyster Shores Motel
Yamba Rd
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 1122
Rating: ****

Pegasus Motel
Cnr Yamba & Angourie Rd
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2314
Rating: ***

Sea Spray Motel
Cnr Beach & Clarence Sts
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2306
Rating: ***

Surf Motel
2 Queen St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2200
Rating: ***

Yamba Beach Motel
4 Queen St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2150
Rating: ***

Yamba Oceanview Holiday Inn
30 Clarence St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 9411
Rating: ***

Yamba Twin Pines Motel
49 Wooli St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6645 8055
Facsimile: (02) 6645 8050
Email: twinpine@nor.com.au
Rating: ***1/2

Pacific Hotel
18 Pilot St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2466
Facsimile: (02) 6646 2662

Yamba Shores Tavern
The Main Brace
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 1888
Facsimile: (02) 6646 2211

Angourie Bay Villas
4 Bay St Angourie
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2893
Rating: ***

Bindaree Holiday Apartments
Pacific Pde
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2150

Booralong Holiday Apartments
Ocean St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Craigmore Apartments
1 Queen St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2202

Crystal Villa Holiday Apartments
Wahratah Ave
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Green Dolphin Apartments
25 Queen St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2202

Namanula Holiday Units
Cnr Clarence & Ritz Sts
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Nats at the Point Holiday Apartments
The Crescent Angourie
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 1622
Rating: ****

Pembroke Holiday Apartments
29 Wooli St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2111

PeninsulaCourt Holiday Apartments
The Peninsula
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Romiaka Apartments
Cnr Pacific Pde & Pippoe St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2202
Rating: ***

Seascape Beachfront Holiday Apartments
4 Ocean St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2694, 018 664 311

Sunny Vale Holiday Apartments
Yamba St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Talinga Apartments
22 Queen St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2202

Top of Town Holiday Apartments
Pilot St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Webbers Place Apartments
19 The Crescent Angourie
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 8117

Jane's of Yamba Serviced Duplex
6 Ocean St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2982
Facsimile: (02) 6646 1760

Brackley Hatch Cottage
6 Church St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Church St Cottage
6 Church St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Clarence Lodge
Clarence St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2474

Flinders Lodge
Cnr Clarence & Beach Sts
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2202
Rating: ***

The Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort
Yamba Rd
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2194
Rating: ****

Easts Calypso Caravan Park
Harbour St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2468
Rating: ***

Yamba Waters Caravan Park
Golding St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2930
Rating: ***

Blue Dolphin Restaurant & Takeaway
Yamba Rd
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 9388

Canton Restaurant
5 Yamba St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2062

Castalia
Shop 1, 15 Clarence St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 1155

Coldstream Pizza & Pasta Restaurant
25 Coldstream St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 8529

Frangipan Cafe & Restaurant
11-13The Crescent Angourie
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2553

Gorman¹s Big Oyster
Yamba Bay
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2025

Riverside Brasserie Restaurant
The Mainbrace
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 8055

The Shed Restaurant
8 Clyde St, Maclean
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6645 1008

Yamba Bowling & Recreation Club
44 Wooli Rd
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2728

Yamba Chinese Restaurant
Shop 6 Yamba Plaza
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 1461

Yamba Golf & Country Club
River St
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 2104

Yamba Shores Tavern
The Main Brace
Yamba NSW 2464
Telephone: (02) 6646 1888
Facsimile: (02) 6646 2211

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