I’ve recently returned from a successful search for the quintessential Aussie Summer experience. It wasn’t hard to find in truth, I knew exactly where I was going and what to expect. Those balmy starry nights, salt water bashed ear drums and a complexion that rivalled my coco-pop youth. I just wanted to make my Summer great again. Pardon me.
It’s not that I am unable to do that here in Melbourne Australia, the days can be hot and long but also inconsistent. So, for this week-long recess I decided to sit with some wings and visit the sparkling Clarence Coast in Northern New South Wales. On arrival heat and humidity greeted my cheery smile on the first steps off the plane as I took a slow, soft breath...…I was away.
The temperature was tame however, compared to my welcoming party’s warm embrace. Graeme and Gina were right there and waiting. They’re my favourite free living gypsies and the only people that have made me feel like a Beatle walking through airport gates. The Summer search was no longer a fantasy, so I eagerly hurled myself and daypack into their truck in a poor resemblance of one of the Dukes of Hazard.
With the deep jungle of sugar canes to our right and the fresh Clarence river on the left, we began driving towards the perfectly named Calypso Caravan Park in the beautiful beach town of Yamba. The 90-minute drive from Ballina Airport was filled like a joyful showbag of Australiana conversation topics about what to expect over the next week. The cute old locals, the grand art-deco pub, award winning seafood, quaint shops, colourful sunsets and scenic ferry rides. And as overstimulated as I was, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering…. Will there really be hula girls and maracas on arrival??
Sadly, when hope and reality collided, there were neither. Though the quest for the quintessential Aussie Summer experience now had an official stage, as the truck’s slow roll into official camp grounds resembled a matinee’s curtains opening a show. A sea of vans, gazebos and tents welcomed us as the breeze gently tickled the leaves of trees on the site’s perimeter. The sun beamed blasting rays right across the horizon, showering the Caravan Park and its multiple cricket matches in ultra UV. I was so happy to call this place home for the next week.
Yamba was officially proclaimed a town by the Europeans in 1864, however its history goes well back to the Bundjalung group of Aborigines who named the area after ‘carpet snakes’ in the pre-1700s. It’s 674km north of Sydney and only a short 2hr drive to the Queensland border. The town is surrounded by no fewer than 5 beaches that suit whatever you desire if you’re willing to make a splash. Though the pinnacle by far is the shiny 5-star surf area called Pippie. This is your stereotypical Aussie turquoise beach with white sand, point breaks and the most perfect water temperature. You will turn into a prune before you know it.
Like all quality coastal towns there is a range of activities to choose from; scenic walks, national parks, light houses and fishing adventures. Today Yamba proudly boasts in its brochure that it has a “vibrant mix of award-winning restaurants, funky cafes and boutique shopping”.
It’s a spot where I could have breakfast with the birds every morning, sleep to the sounds of waves crashing, develop an oyster addiction and spend cherished times with loved ones. Together we had made a week’s worth of special memories and now I was dismally on the other side. This was a hard trip to see the end of, to say goodbye to.
On the drive back to the airport conversation was now focused on when we could meet up again. Which town? What time of year? The best antidote for the end of any holiday. After warm-hearted hugs and firm handshakes, I entered the departure gates and sat alone, scrolling through the collection of photos. I was all smiles.
My search had been successful. My spirit, satisfied.
WARNING: When travelling to Yamba please be responsible and avoid the Mangrove bushes at dawn and dusk. Sand fleas live there. And if you have the tasty blood type they’re after, you will be messed-right-up! I didn’t pay much attention, so treating my sixty plus bites with water soaked tea towels in the caravan annex (aka emergency ward) during the night made for humorous viewing. Cold beer and Australian Open Tennis helped.