Don’t Stop Until We Get to Yamba

(This title is a homage to the frustratingly catchy John Williamson song from our childhood years.)

Despite border restrictions, our options for the school holidays felt limitless.

We had found a clear week off work. Our beloved caravan, which had been sitting unoccupied for months, was calling us forth on another adventure.  

Alice is now two and a half, full of mischief and addicted to Bluey and Peppa in equal measure.  While most of the time she is adorable, her age places limitations to the distance our family is willing to travel in a car with her before the confines bear a striking resemblance to a grotesque medieval torture chamber.

Deciding where to adventure with Dave had become predictable.  The planning would begin with me suggesting an outrageously expensive and overrated five-star resort I had seen on Instagram. My suggestion would be followed by Dave’s suggestion of an equally impractical six-day fishing adventure chosen for its access to rare species in inaccessible waters. If Dave mentioned the prohibitive cost of my suggestion and/or I mentioned the impracticalities of his counter-offer, a colourful argument would begin about our incompatibility and desire to be travelling with someone more like ourselves. After not too long we invariably arrive at the “cool down” where we would both agree that our adversarial skills were best left for professional life and there are, indeed, many places that met both our travel criteria.  This time we landed on Illaroo and Yamba – both coastal destinations in the beautiful Clarence region.  

Illarro is a hidden treasure nestled in Yuraygir near the hamlets of Minnie Water and Wooli. It proved to be one of the best beach camping locations we have visited since Western Australia.  Minnie Water and Illaroo both offered rolling beginners’ waves and turquoise waters perfect for beachcombing through the crystal clear rockpools at low tides. Another pre-Civil Liability Act adventure came through sandboarding the notorious 300m Wooli sand dunes. Dave and I ran neck and neck for the holiday’s biggest wipe out and sand is still being discovered.

By the time we arrived in Yamba we had already unwound and were able to experience all of joy that van life had to offer. The time spent in the springtime sun with the tension of whether to stop reading my book to go for a surf or whether to stop surfing to read my book brought a deep restoration that I have longed for many months. 

Yamba offers a less crowded, (Dave says incomparably preferable) alternative to glitzier locales like Byron with just as big-city-grade coffee and boutiques full of white linen, strappy sandals and divine scents.  While the girls and I spent hours browsing all of the antique and costal bric-a-brac stores, Dave found a secondhand bookstore and loaded up on collector item sport fishing publications from as far back as the 1960’s.

In between the beach and café hopping the girls spent hours on their bikes cruising the caravan park concocting with each other grand plans to spend their small amount of holiday money on Skittles and cavity-inducing assortments at the caravan park store.  Days have wound down lazily around the open campfire, the four of us competing in fiercely contest Uno championships, with Alice the Referee watching Bluey. 

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