February 20, 2023
10 mins Read
The seaside village of Yamba is the sort of place that prompts visiting city dwellers to dream about downsizing. Grab an obligatory schooner of beer at the Pacific Hotel, sign up for a surfing lesson, enjoy an iconic coastal walk, swim at a nearby waterfall and fall for Yamba’s low-key Australian charm by exploring its lovely landscapes and beautiful beaches. Here are 18 fabulous things to do in Yamba.
You must veer off the Pacific Highway and cross over the serpentine Clarence River to get to Yamba, which is just a couple of hours from its boho sibling, Byron. And while salty-haired surfers flock to Yamba to go surfing, a visit to the emerald Blue and Green Pools makes an escape to Yamba even more magical.
Both are open for swimming, although it’s good to check local guidelines as there can be algae blooms, especially in the summer season. The pools are located at The Crescent, a reserve that is culturally significant to the Yaegl community.
Admire Yamba’s tropical beauty from the water with the Clarence River Ferries Passenger Service onboard the historic MV Mirigini, which sluices between Yamba and Iluka on the mouth of the Clarence River each day.
The ferry also offers informative excursions to nearby Harwood Island on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as a live music cruise on Sundays.
Yamba is the poster child for the beautiful beaches of Northern NSW. Take the pup down to dog-friendly Pippi Beach, or relax under palm fronds at the lesser-known Convent Beach.
Keen fisherman? The surrounding waterways in Yamba are teeming with fish, and you’ll find a plethora of great fishing spots – head to Yamba Bait and Tackle in town and ask where to get started, the knowledgeable staff are happy to help out.
Avid surfers will love Main Beach, which often has great waves, or nearby Angourie – with Angourie’s Spooky Beach being one of the best places near Yamba for snorkelling, too.
The Yamba Bowlo is a town institution, and is renowned for its extensive kid-friendly activities – there’s ten pin bowling, a mini golf course, a rock wall and a maze for toddlers, so even the little ones are well-catered for.
The Friday and Sunday raffles are big news, especially in the high summer season (winning a seafood BBQ dinner? Nothing beats it!), and the Norfolk Bistro offers up classic club fare like schnitties and seafood baskets, but it’s also worth checking out their gig guide – loads of major Australian artists have played the Yamba Bowling Club, like the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly.
For those craving an escape to the country, The Peach Farm delivers with its rural surrounds in the Lower Clarence a top spot to forage for local produce. Visitors to the family farm can – for a fee – feed the animals before convening at the darling cafe for cakes, scones, slices and sausage rolls.
Locally made peach jam and spiced peach chutney are also available at the farm store, and you can pick peaches between October and November. They’ve closed for renovations temporarily, but check their Facebook page for current updates.
One of the best Yamba jogging routes is along the Yamba Breakwater (sometimes called the Yamba Breakwall) which separates Turners Beach and the Clarence River. You’ll head past the historic Yamba lighthouse, which has existed in its coastal location for over 100 years. Keep an eye out for dolphins which often frequent the waters here.
Best of all, the Yamba Breakwater is dog friendly (just keep them on a leash), and wide enough to enjoy a walk with friends, too.
The Clarence River Fisherman’s Co-Op is marked on the Sydney Fish Market map as a suggested stop on a seafood-centric road trip, so you know it’s worth a visit. As well as selling fish and chips alongside fresh seafood you can BBQ at home, the co-op supplies Yamba prawns, oysters and other delicious crustaceans to the Yamba Prawn Shack, one of the best boat-to-plate spots to pick up fresh seafood in Yamba. Order a bucket-load of prawns to go, then head to the headland overlooking Main Beach for a picnic.
Change your clocks to Clarence Valley time and settle in for a tasting at the Clarence Distillery, where you can sample tasting paddles and cocktails made from Chilli Vodka, Ruby Rosella Gin or The Duke dry gin. As well as supporting local producers, this rustic distillery in the industrial estate donates $2 from every bottle of vodka to organisations responsible for protecting the coastal emu.
The Pacific Hotel is a Yamba mainstay (and a great place to stay). An Art Deco beauty that has one of the best seats in town, it’s also a prominent landmark in a town where surf, sea, and sun are on tap – so expect a few crusty old surfers to be lurking on the deck, searching for swell. Go for the house-beer-battered fish served with salad and fries and stay for the live entertainment.
Yamba has several excellent day spas and massage specialists worth checking out if you need some wind-down time on your holiday. Melt Massage and Beauty is a popular salon, offering massage and body therapies as well as facials and lengthier packages for really treating yourself. Another popular choice is Ngara Beauty, a day spa in town run by mother and daughter locals, Natalie Le Breton and Daisy Lloyd. For something different, Ka Huna Massage offers Hawaiian bodywork massage a little further out along Yamba Rd.
While you can drive to the Blue and Green pools in Angourie, a nice day trip can be to rent a bike and cycle along the highway that runs between Yamba and the sleepy surf town. The Bike Shop Yamba rents bikes by the hour at competitive rates, and the ride will take you approximately 20 minutes.
Many of Yamba’s hotels and motels will have bikes you can borrow for free, so it’s worth checking with your accommodation before renting. Remember to always wear a helmet and be cautious when riding – the highway is wide and has a dedicated bike path, but does have an 80 km/h speed limit in some stretches.
Corkscrew around the Clarence for long enough and chances are you will be steered toward the Wobbly Chook Brewing Co. located in Yamba’s industrial estate. The selection of beers on offer at the microbrewery includes lagers, IPAs and brown ales, which will, according to owner Justin ‘put hairs on your chest’. The brewery is also open for breakfast and lunch, selling everything from B&E rolls to burgers.
The multi-day Yuraygir walk along the Clarence Coast is dotted with places to stop for a snorkel or swim or to look out for whales. The 65-kilometre-long multi-day walk traces the coastline from Angourie to Red Rock with overnight stops at beautiful beach campgrounds.
The trail journeys through the traditional homelands of the Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl nations along an ancient path followed by Australia’s coastal emus. Time it right (around October) and you’ll be able to bask in flannel flower pastures, which are pretty spectacular.
Yamba is loved for its quirky charm, and a large part of that charm is due to the local, independent boutiques and homeware shops that wouldn’t look out of place in our beloved Byron Bay (but without the bumper-to-bumper crowds). Bounce between One Country Mouse, Podium (which stocks Australian labels like Zulu & Zephyr and Rowie) and the Island Collective while hunting for treasures to take home. Don’t miss Summi’s up on Pilot Hill – a local fashion label stocking retro terry-towelling sets and ribbed summer dresses.
Whether you prefer a cult classic or a new release, this family-managed movie theatre will see you get your fix. The cinema is all old-school Yamba nostalgia with its single-screen space able to seat up to 200 guests. Located just a few minutes from the town centre, the retro cinema with red-velvet curtains serves popcorn and choc-tops at the snack bar.
To see Yamba in full swing, you must factor in a visit to the farmers’ market, which operates Wednesdays from 7am at the Whiting Beach car park.
Young creatives have moved to the Northern Rivers region in their droves, and you will get a sense of this when you wander around the weekly market, where you will find stallholders selling everything from microgreens to sourdough and sushi.
Alternatively, check out the Yamba River Markets, which take place on the 4th Sunday of every month at Ford Park on the Clarence River. You’ll find loads of local businesses selling everything from fresh produce to fashion.
The Clarence River region holds great importance to the local Goorie (Aboriginal) people. And this driving route steers visitors around significant sites where you can honour the stories of the Traditional Owners of the Land. Stop at 13 sites along the way to learn Dreamtime stories about the Durrangan (which the Goories believe to be a powerful spirit) and the creation of the Clarence Aboriginal People.
Eight sections. 195 kilometres. Eight waterfalls. 12 campsites. Australia’s longest mapped whitewater trail snakes between Nymboi-Binderay National Park and the township of Copmanhurst and contains some of the most diverse conditions for paddling found anywhere in the world. But Nymboida Camping and Canoeing is not just for gung-ho action heroes. The epic trail also has family-friendly sections and experienced guides who can paddle with you.
Additional updates written by Melissa Mason
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