The small fishing village of Iluka on the NSW north coast is a perfect place for road-weary grey nomads to stop and recharge their batteries for a while … and perhaps take a bit of time to smell the sea air.

The water-centric community is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the mouth of the mighty Clarence River on the other. Unsurprisingly, throwing in a line, kayaking, and swimming are high on most grey nomads’ chillaxing agenda while here.

Located a little off the Pacific Highway, east of the town of Maclean, Iluka is surrounded by kilometres of empty beaches and World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest.

It has a permanent population of around 2,000 lucky souls, and is quieter and less commercial than Yamba … its larger neighbour located just across the river.

There is however a regular ferry across the Clarence so visitors can easily enjoy a look around both stunningly beautiful communities.

A must-do for energetic nomads is to stroll along Iluka’s long Bluff Beach and to then climb up to the Bluff Lookout, which is a great place to spot dolphins year round, and also migrating whales between May and November.

This is also where a 2.6-kilometre Iluka Rainforest track – which takes visitors through an ancient rainforest ecosystem, with strangler figs and dense canopies – starts. Birdwatchers will be interested to know that the reserve is particularly noted for the white-eared monarch and the barred cuckoo shrike.

Soldier crabs in Iluka Bay, Iluka. PIC: My Clarence Valley / Destination NSW

While holidaymakers are made to feel very welcome, this is a local economy still driven very much by oysters, prawning, and commercial fishing. The Iluka boat harbour is home to a commercial trawler fleet and the pay-off of visitors is the huge selection of delicious local specialties, including juicy Yamba prawns, that are available in local eateries.

According to the local tourism authorities, the Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-op on Queen Street is the place to pick up a few of these ‘oh-so-tasty crustaceans’ as well as ocean bugs, whole salmon and snapper, lobster, clams and roe.

Although a relatively small community, Iluka enjoys a good range of services and facilities including a bowling club, a golf club and a popular pub … the Sedgers Reef Hotel.

For many grey nomads though, it is the chance to catch their own dinner that persuades them to linger in Iluka. Top spots for fishing include Iluka Beach which extends north from the break wall, Bluff Beach, the headland known as Frazer Reef, Middle Bluff, Woody Head and Shark Bay.

On Iluka’s northern doorstep is the 18,000-hectare Bundjalung National Park which boasts a varied landscape that includes beaches, rainforest, heathland, lagoons and wetlands, and is a haven for wildlife and birdlife. The park also offers good camping at Woody Head and Black Rocks.

For those looking for the facilities and comforts of caravan parks, the Iluka Riverside Tourist Park, Iluka Clarence Head Caravan Park, and Anchorage Holiday Park are all great options. And there are other parks across the river in Yamba.

  • Have you enjoyed a good stay at Iluka? Email us here to share your thoughts.



Subscribe To Our Newsletter

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop