LIFES A BEACH … by keara


									LIFE’S A BEACH …

WHATEVER happened to the good old days when you could unroll your swag on a
deserted beach and lie in your tent listening to the gentle rhythm of the surf?

While civilisation and commercial development have claimed most of the traditional
beach camping spots close to our cities, paradise is still out there waiting to be found …
if you’re prepared to go the distance.

Stretching between the bright lights of Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast, the northern
NSW coastline remains surprisingly unspoilt. Protected by National Parks and
interspersed with quiet fishing villages, these beaches, river estuaries and headlands
offer the isolation and tranquillity we all look for – but rarely find – when we head for
the great outdoors.

Yuraygir National Park

Yuraygir National Park encompasses 60kms of spectacular coastline between the
Corindi River and Yamba, with access via Pacific Highway turn-offs near Red Rock,
Grafton, Ulmarra and Maclean.

The Wooli and Sandon Rivers divide the park into three separate sections and create a
waterway wonderland of isolated beaches, tidal lakes and river networks.

With its world-class point breaks and wild rollers, the surfing contingent have been
keen to keep the area under wraps, but there are plenty of safe, shallow swimming spots
for children and beach fishermen will think they’ve died and gone to heaven as they
haul in catches of whiting, bream, flathead and tailor.

Bushwalking is another favourite pastime, particularly in the northern section of the
park where the 10km Angourie Walking Track links the Mara Creek Picnic Area with
Lake Aragon. This is regarded as one of the most magnificent coastal walks in Australia
and incorporates a series of specially constructed boardwalks to protect the fragile dune
systems. Marked walking trails have also been established at Wilsons Headland in
central Yuraygir and at Station Creek in the southern section of the park.
The river systems are equally worthy of exploration. At Wooli, you can hire canoes or
dinghies and travel up the Wooli River for at least 20kms. The emus, jabirus and
brolgas found deep in the wetlands make this area a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Caravanners will find all of life’s little necessities at Wooli, Minnie Water and Brooms
Head where fully-equipped parks have claimed dress-circle positions on the oceanfront.
(The locals rave especially loudly about Brooms Head Caravan Park where you can
literally pitch your tent right on the beach.) The holiday parks also offer cabins and on-
site vans if you don’t want to BYO.

For those who take ‘roughing it’ a little more seriously, basic camping facilities are
provided at Station Creek, Boorkoom, Diggers Camp, Illaroo, Sandon, Red Cliff and
Lake Aragon. Facilities at these rest areas include toilets, showers, barbeques and picnic
tables but you may have to bring your own water.

The best-kept secrets of Yuraygir, however, are the walk-in campsites at places like
Pebbly Beach, Freshwater Beach, Rocky Point, Shelley Head and Plumbago Head. Of
course, these idyllic retreats come at a price – namely, the strain of carrying all your
goods and chattels on your back for several kilometres. There are no facilities, no fresh
water supplies and no snack shops within coo-ee of these sites, so make sure you stock
up before you set out.

Entrance and camping fees apply throughout Yuraygir National Park and there are no
bookings – it’s first in gets the best site. For further information, contact the National
Parks and Wildlife Service on 02-66403910 or the Clarence River Tourist Association
on 02-6642 4677.

Bundjalung National Park

Bundjalung National Park stretches from Iluka to Evans Head along 38kms of Pacific
Ocean frontage. In addition to the open beaches and protected bays, the park
encompasses the World Heritage-listed coastal rainforest of the Iluka Nature Reserve, as
well as a series of lagoons and wetlands.

Sheltered inland waterways formed by the Esk River provide perfect canoeing
conditions, while the ocean beaches are ideal for fishing, surfing and swimming.
The area around Evans Head is the birthplace of the three main Aboriginal tribes found
in northern NSW and, as such, there are several middens and ancient campsites within
the park boundaries.

The birdlife is extensive and it’s not unusual for campers to meet wallabies, possums
and bandicoots on an early morning bushwalk.

Numerous picnic spots with barbeques, tables, pit toilets and walking tracks are
scattered throughout the park but overnight camping is restricted to Woody Head
Camping Area in the south and Black Rocks Camping Area in the north.

Woody Head is far more sophisticated than your average National Park camping
ground, coming fully equipped with solar hot water, conventional amenities, cabins and
a kiosk. About the only thing missing is electricity! At Black Rocks gas barbeques are
provided, as are enviro toilets. These facilities are limited, however, and the park
rangers recommend campers bring their own fuel stoves. You’ll also need to carry in
your own fresh water.

Caravan parks, holiday cottages, motels, hotels and all other mod cons can be found in
Iluka and Evans Head. For further information, contact the National Parks office at
Alstonville on 02-6627 0100 or Grafton on 02-6640 3910.

Riverside Reserve, Evans Head

Beach and riverfront camping doesn’t get much better than the Riverside Reserve at
Evans Head. Adjacent to the Silver Sands Caravan Park, this picturesque spot is only
open during the school holidays so it definitely pays to turn up early!

For further information on this little gem, contact the Park managers, Jeff and Wanda at
Silver Sand on 02-66824212.

Flat Rock Beach

If you don’t want to roam too far from the madding crowd, Flat Rock Beach offers the
best of both worlds – tented camping right on the oceanfront, only a 4km drive in either
direction to civilisation.
Set on a wide sweep of ocean beach midway between Ballina and Lennox Head, the
Council-run camping ground is well-equipped with lighting, solar heating, toilets,
showers and barbeques.

The surfing here is just spectacular and you’d have to be a poor excuse for a fisherman
if you couldn’t catch your own dinner off the beach. From May to November, whale
sightings are common, so try not to cast that line too far out. Keep an eye out also for
the Ballina dolphins that like to frolic in this area.

When you’re packing up the 4WD, make sure you bring the bikes along because Flat
Rock is right in the middle of the Ballina/Lennox Head Cycleway. The whole family
will enjoy tootling along past Angels Beach, Shelly Beach and Lighthouse Beach
towards Ballina or up to Lennox Head’s famous Seven Mile Beach … not to mention all
those obligatory coffee shop stops along the way. (Hire bikes are available in Lennox
and Ballina if you don’t have your own wheels.)

As you can imagine, Flat Rock is a popular spot so it may be wise to book ahead. Phone
the Ballina Visitor Information Centre on 02-6686 3484 for more information.

Tweed Coast

Stretching from Pottsville in the south up to Kingscliff, the Tweed Coast comprises a
string of quiet villages set against a backdrop of ocean beaches where you can walk for
miles without seeing another soul.

Several Nature Reserves have been designated along the beachfront but unfortunately
overnight camping is not permitted. The good news is that some of the local caravan
parks offer semi-isolated tent sites in idyllic surrounds.

A favourite is the headland campsite operated by the Hastings Point Holiday Park. The
site stretches over a grassy hillside looking straight up the beach. The facilities here are
minimal but the view more than makes up for it. This particular section is only available
during NSW school holidays and long weekends so you will need to get in early if you
want the pick of the spots.

Fingal Head Holiday Park is also right on the beach while the Pottsville Beach Holiday
Park South has tent sites spread out along the banks of Mooball Creek. The kids can
either play safely in the shallows or you can walk through the parklands to the ocean
beach which is only about 150 metres away.

For more information on beach camping along the Tweed Coast, phone the Tweed
Heads Visitor Centre on 1800 674414.


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