If you’ve never heard of the sleepy coastal village of Yamba in the northern rivers of NSW then one, I’d be surprised as it truly is a must see Aussie holiday spot and two, you’re in for a real treat because I’m going to share a genuine locals perspective with you.
Firstly, I’d like to rebuke claims that Yamba is the ‘next Byron Bay’. It’s far from that perpetually trendy (not geographically since it’s only a 1.5 hour drive south of the bay) scene, in fact spending time in Yamba is more akin to sweet childhood memories of lazy days spent by the sea, entertaining yourself in a proper relaxed manner (think fishing, surfing and lots of arvo kips) and scenic bush walks throughout nearby Yuryaygir National Park.
Yamba is Yaegl country and historically home to the proud Bundjalung people. Be sure to take note of signage marking significant aboriginal sites where you can read up on the local dreamtime stories that teach of the regions important cultural bearings. Yamba’s prime seaside location where the mouth of the mighty Clarence River spills into the Pacific means that the majority of leisure activities here are water orientated. There’s at least seven beaches in the vicinity and they all face different directions hence you’ll always find a protected spot to swim (regardless of wind) and a surfable wave nearby.
Fortunately for the delicate natural environment here, Yamba has so far avoided major development and the community intends to keep it that way. Conservation is a key theme for the townsfolk, many of whom moved to the region in the 60’s and 70’s with hippy ambitions to turn up, tune in and drop out. You won’t find imposing high rise buildings, but you will find plenty of charming beach shacks, fanned out caravan parks on the riverside and a few modern architectural delights that match Yamba’s laid back vibe.
With a population of just over 6000 people (that can triple during holiday times), I’d suggest your best bet is to visit in low season. Although we’re pretty humble around these parts we’re also quick to claim that our terrific weather and comfortable year round temperatures resulted in Yamba being named as having the best climate in the world by both the CSIRO and Stanford University.
If you only visit Yamba once in your life (and I highly doubt that will be the case since Yamba is known for luring tourists back here with ease) I strongly recommend you head straight to Main Beach for a dip in the ocean pool followed by a cold beer at the iconic (and I don’t use that word lightly) and aptly named Pacific Hotel aka the fountain on the mountain.
There’s stacks of Yamba accommodation offerings to suit all types of travellers. Families would be wise to book an affordable camp site at Calypso Holiday Park, right near the kid friendly swim zone that is Whiting Beach and just a few steps from the main street for fish & chips and ice creams. Alternatively, there’s quite a few private holiday homes which are great for multi-generational families to enjoy a Yamba holiday at.
Couples and/or friends seeking a cool coastal getaway at sophisticated yet fun lodgings with epic ocean views and eateries within close proximity should immediately check-in to The Surf Yamba hotel. While away the time by their stylish rooftop pool setting or unwind on your balcony with a bucket of sweet Yamba prawns and a snazzy local gin from Yamba’s own Clarence Distillery.
More of a rainforest dweller, are you? Good, because Angourie Resort is a superb place to unwind in paradise. I’d select one of their notably spacious villas with verandas that unfurl into the verdant rainforest setting. Bonus points for the lagoon like swimming pool, on-site day spa and the restaurant / bar area complete with pool table. Hint: book ahead and score a mid-week package deal.
Yamba’s Best Cafes & Restaurants
Beachwood Café (pictured above) is your go to zone for a hearty breaky and an outstanding lunch bursting with Mediterranean flavours carefully prepped by Sevtap, a Turkish migrant turned Yamba local who has made her café feel like home and taste like heaven.
Paradiso is a small bar and restaurant perched at the top of the hill and an absolute must for Asian inspired dishes, classic cocktails and a buzzing yet intimate atmosphere.
The good ol’ Yamba Golf Club is a great place to jag a table on the deck, enjoy a casual club feed and watch the golfers artfully dodge the resident kangaroos as they approach the 18th green.
Karrikin – consistently serving up a set menu loaded with clever combinations of Yamba’s famed seafood, delicious vegetarian dishes, delicate yet flavoursome starters and meals of tender meat sourced direct from farms within the Clarence Valley.
Coffee = very important. Start your day with a superb coffee at Summi’s (top of the hill) Yamba. Their breakfast bagels and classic smashed avo on toast is always a winner too.
Yamba Museum is run by a small band of dedicated volunteers and features antique maritime themed displays, a historic photo collection and exhibitions by local artists. Be a good human and swing by to support the museum and admire their unique cultural garden which was created in close collaboration with the local indigenous community, Yaegl artists and gardeners. The space features two mosaic totems (dolphin and dingo), six language poles and three yarning circles which set the tone and focus for Yaegl story telling.
The Yamba Farmers & Producers Market is held every Wednesday between 7am and 11am at the Whiting Beach Carpark next to Turners Beach and the Yamba Breakwall. This weekly market really does showcase the fact that Yamba is the agri-food gateway to the Clarence Valley. The 45 permanent stallholders are all local and regional farmers, makers, bakers, artisans and producers who continue a long, proud tradition of growing, producing and creating a premium range of seasonal goods.
Hint: you’ll want to try the Japanese Gyoza place – because, yes, fresh Asian style dumplings are your friend. Pick up a loaf of Ashby Sourdough to take home and have a chat to the aptly named Blonde Bob – he’s at his organic fresh produce stand (picked straight from his farm down the street) every week.
A Working Holiday in Yamba
It can be done and it can be done well. Working remotely is pretty common in this day and age. Yamba is a great place to combine leisure time with a flexible working schedule. Utilise the cool co-working office zone at Blanc Space Agency and before heading back to your Yamba holiday home to totally switch off.
What if you could produce a week worth of work in a single day surrounded by entrepreneurial creatives permeating perimeters and breaking down walls. How could your personal and business growth overflow into family and community. How would that meaning enrich your life and circle back into exponentially renewing passion and creativity? Blanc Space Agency is obsessed with possibility and purpose, and these are the questions that drive what they do.
Oh, there’s an on-site Yamba yoga studio here at Blanc Space too.