Charlesworth Bay, Australia

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The Queensland border was opened last week. As soon as I heard the Premiers announcement, I cancelled all appointments and plans, packed up the car and drove down to Coffs Harbour.

We were only there for just over a week, but it was fabulous, as always.

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My time in Coffs always includes time at the beach at the beginning of each and every day. And, although Diggers Beach is our closest beach, the one we always go to is Charlesworth Beach. Our main reason for choosing this beach is because it is dog friendly. Dogs on leashes are permitted. Also, Charlesworth just happens to be my favourite beach for many lovely reasons. Charlesworth Beach is actually a very short drive up the road from Diggers beach and where my Mum lives so it is an easy decision for us to go there.

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Charlesworth, although not a patrolled swimming beach, is a relatively protected north east facing beach and only about 500mts long. The Bay is protected from the south by 40 m high Diggers Head with smaller Fowlers Head to the north. This secluded bay and its backing valley are now largely occupied by Pacific Bay Resort. The road which we drive down to get to the beach, past the resort and golf course, is a beautifully tree lined avenue which is always postcard pretty.

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A road runs to the southern end of the beach where there is an old boat shed where the local fishermen stow their small fishing boat which can be easily launched into the ocean via the boat ramp.

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The beach is relatively safe under normal low waves so often we see people swimming although it is not a designated swimming beach. I often just pop in to the shallows for a refreshing dip and of course Buddy just loves to run in, but only about tummy deep.

During this past week, on several occasions there were plenty of stand-up paddle boards and just some regular surf board riders out there enjoying fabulous conditions and weather.

Most times when we are there, we often see folks fishing from the rocks, usually at the southern end of the beach.

And, the highlight for us, well, mostly for Buddy is all the little doggies about his size who freely run up and down the beach and in to the water.

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At the Pacific Bay Resort you will find poolside refreshments or you can check out the Solitary Islands Aquarium at the National Marine Science Centre. There is littoral rainforest to explore, grassed areas to relax, toilets and showers, picnic tables with benches plus gas bbq’s that are supplied by the local council and are free to the public. The entire area is cleaned and maintained by the resort and it is always neat and clean.

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This is a great little beach with gorgeous rock pools to enjoy. And, a wonderful place for inquisitive kids, young and old.

Swim between the flags. Australia

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After writing my last post on Coffs Harbour, I realised that not everyone is familiar with our use of flags on our beaches here in Australia. In fact, I am not really sure if they are used in other countries. I have travelled extensively and don’t remember seeing flags on overseas beaches. I remember hearing many times over the years and even as recently as last Christmas where visitors to our country have drowned at non-patrolled beaches which is indicative of the lack of awareness that many folks have of our system.

The beach is a dynamic, ever-changing environment. Although it can be very fun, it can also be unpredictable and dangerous to people who are unaware of the hazards. That’s why lifeguards who understand the beach use a system of flags and signs to advise the people who visit with the things they need to know.

The most important flags on the beach are the red and yellow flags. These show the supervised area of the beach and that a lifesaving service is operating. If there are no red and yellow flags, you should not go swimming.

Beaches are patrolled at various times and locations. The red and yellow flags, such as the ones above, tell you that these beaches are open for swimming between the flags.

Australian beaches are among the most beautiful in the world. However, the surf can be unpredictable. That’s why lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers put up the red and yellow flags to show you the supervised area.

Swimming between the red and yellow flags has been Surf Life Saving Australia’s (SLSA) mantra for many years and the organisation is not wavering from this stance.

I am from the northern beaches of Sydney where we spent most of our time while growing up at the beach. The red and yellow flags at the beach is what we always looked for as soon as we arrived at the beach and this is where we planned to swim.  It is perfectly normal for us because we must respect the force of the ocean and respect the rules of the SLSA.  The surf life savers, many of whom are volunteers, are on constant watch of all the swimmers throughout each day. When you are swimming between the flags, and if you get in to difficulty, you raise your arm and you will have a surf life saver with you in a very short time. They usually arrive to you now in motorized inflatable rescue boats.  

Surf Life Saving Australia is urging the public to take precautions when recreating in coastal areas this summer:

  • Where possible, swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
  • Obey the safety signs at the beach
  • Learn how to identify a rip current and look for rip currents before deciding where to swim
  • If you’re not sure, ask a lifesaver or lifeguard about the beach conditions
  • Don’t go into or on the ocean during severe weather warnings
  • Take personal responsibility, think twice and assess your safety before entering the water
  • Supervise children at all times in and around water.

Remember, always swim between the flags on Aussie beaches, it could save your life.

Coffs Harbour – Australia

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As many of you know, Coffs Harbour is my second home. I travel to Coffs as often as I can to spend time with my Mum. With the constant upgrading of the Pacific Hwy, it now only takes me just over 4 hours to do the drive.  This year due to the Qld border being closed it has been more of a challenge but thankfully I have managed a couple of trips during windows of opportunity. 

I feel blessed to have such a lovely place to spend my time in Coffs which is a very popular holiday destination.  It is popular for many good reasons. Geographically it is stunning. The mountains come down to the sea and because it has a temperate climate the vegetation is lush.  Also, Coffs has so much to offer.

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Park Beach
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Jetty Beach

There are dozens of unspoiled beaches, many of them are patrolled by lifeguards during the swimming months.  You can always tell when a beach is patrolled as there are red and yellow flags that are placed in the sand to let you know where you should swim.  The placing of the flags is determined by ocean and wind conditions, so you must swim between these flags as this is where it is safest.

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Flags at Diggers Beach
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Picnic & BBQ areas

Diggers beach, which is one of the most popular surfing beaches here is one of Australia’s top beaches as it is perfect for surfers, families and children. Here you will find picnic tables and free bbq areas plus showers and amenities which are all supplied and maintained by the local council. 

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Look out and showers at Diggers Beach
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Diggers Beach – low tide
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Showers at Diggers Beach

Coffs caters for anyone and everyone. The accommodation here includes; backpackers, caravan parks, camping, holiday flats/apts, motels, hotels ( 1 – 5 star) and resorts all catering for everyone’s budget.

Some of Australia’s top resorts are located in Coffs and many of them have beach fronts, some have golf courses, most have tennis courts, swimming pools and spas and of course they have their own restaurants.

There is a super selection of restaurants in Coffs ranging from simple take away to silver service. The variety of restaurants covers just about every cuisine.

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Fisherman’s Co-op

Coffs is also known for its range of fresh seafood which is mostly caught in local waters by the local fishermen each day or evening.  There is a local fisherman’s co-op where anyone can purchase this fresh seafood. This co-op is located in the area known as Coffs jetty where there are  restaurants, the yacht club, and picnic and bbq areas with amenities.  The jetty has always been a popular destination for locals and visitors as it offers so much to do and see.  It is an easy place to wet a line (go fishing)

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Boats moored at jetty
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Fishing boats
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Coffs Harbour Yacht club
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Looking down to  headland
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Woolgoolga, NSW

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Situated on the Coffs Coast is the delightful little seaside town of Woolgoogla. This town is a hidden gem, as what you see from driving down the highway past it gives away no clues. It is about a 4 hour drive south from Brisbane and about 20 mins north of Coffs Harbour.

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Woolgoolga or “Little India”  is about 20 mins drive north from Coffs Harbour on the coast.

Woolgoolga has the largest regional Sikh/Punjabi population in Australia, and they are now said to own 90% of the banana farms. They supply much of Australia with bananas, but this industry has declined in the face of competition. Recent times have seen many banana plantations replaced by blueberries after banana sales slumped.

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Many of the locals refer to Woolgoolga as Woopi. I tried to find out why and no one actually knew. Possibly it is just a pet name or maybe Woolgoolga is difficult for some to pronounce or maybe it is the place to have fun, (make woopi)

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Our friends recommended a seafood, fish and chip take away shop in Woolgoolga, called Whitesalt, so we drove up to check it out. We were very impressed with the extensive menu which offered most seafoods. We picked up our order of fish and chips and calamari, and then drove to the headland to enjoy and take in the view. The fish and chips were amazing, and we have now returned several times for more. The chips, or french fries, are hand made using locally grown Dorrigo potatoes.

While there, we also explored Woolgoolga and were pleasantly surprised as to how lovely the area is.

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Main Street
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Woolgoolga creek

Not far from the town is the Woolgoolga creek and picnic area with facilities for family picnics.  The creek flows in to the ocean which is not much further on and it is a popular water craft spot with easy access for launching surf skies, kayaks, canoes etc.

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Woolgoolga is another delightful township on the Mid North Coast of NSW.  The beautiful beaches stretch for many miles and there is always a place to catch a wave or just have a swim. There are many dog friendly beaches which makes life even nicer for us dog lovers.

Exploring Bribie Island, Qld

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While staying with my friends on their herb farm north of Brisbane, we took a day out to spend on Bribie Island.  Bribie Island is a magical place less than 1 hour drive from Brisbane. This island has everything –  many beautiful beaches, great outdoor lifestyle and great parks. It is a real gem and not overly developed. Positively, a great escape from the big city.

Bribie Island is the smallest and most northerly of three major sand islands forming the coastline sheltering the northern part of Moreton Bay, Queensland.

The Bribie Island Bridge and Pumicestone Passage separate Bribie from the mainland. Once you have crossed this bridge it is like you are in another life and being as we were there at the start of a long holiday weekend, you could quickly tell that many folks thought the same.

As soon as we crossed the bridge we stopped at the first beach, Silvan Beach which is one of the most popular Bribie Island beaches due to its safe swimming and family friendly features such as picnic and barbeque areas, playgrounds and toilets and doggies are welcome if on a leash. So, with our 2 puppy dogs we wandered along the water’s edge and explored this lovely beach with vistas of the Glasshouse Mountains in the background.

While we were on Bribie we visited many of the fabulous beaches and always spent time at the beaches that allowed dogs. Of course.  These beaches included Bongaree Beach which is a bit of a mixed bag. Banksia beach which is great for swimming, fishing  or launching your boat and allows doggies on leashes along the walking track.  Red Beach is one of the few off-leash beaches in the area and a lot of fun.  And, finally Woorim Beach which is the perfect place for families with its barbecue and picnic areas and playground, and there are shops, cafes and restaurants right across the road.

 We stopped at a little café right on the river for our morning coffee and it was so delightful that we chose to stay for an early lunch. Once again, the doggies were made very welcome including a bowl of water and treats.

As the only island in Queensland connected to the mainland by bridge, Bribie Island makes for a gorgeous island escape with a great community feel with a combination of calm bay beaches and surfing beaches.

Here the list of things one can do is almost limitless. You can swim, spend time at the beach, go kayaking, camping, visit a museum, visit any of the islands national parks, enjoy a great meal, and enjoy a cocktail at sunset or any time of the day. Play a round of golf, go jet skiing, four wheel driving or do what we did and explore some of the many fabulous beaches.

I guess it is up to you as to how much or how little you would like to do on this lovely island escape.

Roma Street Parklands, Brisbane.

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In Brisbane we are blessed with so many beautiful gardens and Roma Street Parklands which is no exception is an oasis in the middle of a busy vibrant city.

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This oasis in the heart of Brisbane with spectacular subtropical plant displays, sweeping vistas and unique artwork, Roma Street Parkland is the perfect place to go exploring – and it is only a short walk from Brisbane’s CBD.

The Parklands which is set on old Queensland railway land has been carefully developed into a very attractive and well manicured parkland that would scarcely betray its former use.

The Parkland is extensive with lovely gardens, a lake and a rainforest area. There are also excellent children’s play areas.

Join one of the leisurely and informative guided walks leaving from The Hub twice daily to experience these beautifully designed and meticulously kept grounds. There are many different sections and themes, fantastic waterways and features, flowers, native and imported, rainforest, water dragons in abundance. The walks are undulating so be prepared for short uphill sections. I could roam and enjoy this parkland for hours, And… It is free!

Or maybe for a Gold coin donation, hop onto the Parkland Explorer, the trackless train for an exciting journey through the parkland’s misty fern groves, past rocky peninsulas and the Lakeside Meadow. This little train operates between 10 and 12.30 each day with its drivers and conductors who are regular volunteers of the Parklands.

The parkland provides well-maintained picnic spts and free electric barbecues so you can prepare your own food. There is also a casual restaurant which you will find between the parking area and park.

There are two playgrounds designed for children of all ages, one at the Children’s Garden and the other along Weeping Fig Avenue.

We drove in to the Parklands as there is plenty of on street pay parking however it is easy enough to walk from the city or the Roma Street train station.

The ground staff and volunteers at Roma Street Parklands are to be congratulated for putting such a wonderful space together. It brings happiness and joy to all who visit. Well Done. Roma Street Parkland is open seven days a week.

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The Many Faces of New Farm, Qld

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Only about 2 kilometers east of Brisbane CBD on a large bend of the Brisbane River is the very diverse and fascinating inner northern riverside suburb of New Farm.  New Farm is partly surrounded by the Brisbane River, with land access from the north-west through Fortitude Valley and from the north through  Newstead.

Although I live on the south side of Brisbane I travel in to New Farm at least twice a week. I volunteer at the New Farm RSPCA OP shop each Tuesday which I have been doing now for 5 years and enjoy it so much. I love the interaction that I have with my regular Tuesday customers. The clientele is so very diverse both in age groups and backgrounds. Some folks shop here because they are passionate about helping the animals, some shop for the amazing bargains, others come for the fabulous things they can purchase and lots come for the wonderful up market clothing that we sell. I am so proud to say that we have so many generous folks donating regularly.

I also drive in on Sundays to attend my lovely church service at Mt Michaels All Angels Anglican church and catch up with my friends. This always is an amazing morning out for me and my doggie, Buddy.

Brisbane’s inner-north riverside New Farm strikes that wonderful balance between waterfront luxury and beauty, leafy greenery and big parks, and local drinking and dining fun.

The architecture is as diverse as its residents.  Here you will find timber boarding houses that were built many decades ago alongside multimillion dollar houses and apartments. The local shopping also reflects the same type of diversity. The vibe is always electric which really suits the magical Brisbane weather, all year round.

 New Farm encourages an outdoor lifestyle, with tree-lined streets and unique spaces such as Brisbane Powerhouse and the heart of the suburb, New Farm Park.  New Farm Park is one of Brisbane’s oldest, grandest and largest parks. The 37-acre park is popular spot with local families and friends who gather on weekends to relax, picnic, barbecue, kick a ball and catch up beneath the trees or in the open fields. The city-owned park often has free live music events in the rotunda and other special events throughout the year. The park is by the river just two stops by boat from the city centre.  It is a totally green park full of grass, rose gardens, flowers and trees that offers a playground, a picnic area, walking and bike routes and relaxing benches.

The variety and list of things you can do here in New Farm is long and if one puts on their thinking cap you will soon realize there is much more than I can think of right now. These include, picnics in the park, visit the Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre, visit the farmers markets each Saturday morning, shop up a storm at James Street indoor markets, check out some of the area’s best bars and restaurants, stop for a coffee any time of the day or night, walk or ride a bike along riverside boardwalk, cycle your heart out along the river cycle way, shop till you drop at any of the up market boutiques, take a free ferry ride across the river to Bulimba or into the city and, my favourite activity is to take a city cat (catamaran) up or down the Brisbane River.

New Farm has it all and suits any one of us no matter how young or old we are. 

If you are in Brisbane, do yourself a favour and spend time here in this amazing inner city area.

Lockyer Valley, Qld, Australia

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Reasonably early on a magnificent winters day we headed west from Brisbane for the 60 minute 70 K’s drive towards the Lockyer Valley. Nestled at the foot of the Great Dividing Range, the Lockyer Valley is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy interesting places, clean open spaces and a variety of activities. It is a region rich with a laid-back atmosphere and stunning valley views with the perfect mix of town and country living. The Lockyer Valley is an area of rich farmlands and is rated among the top ten most fertile farming areas in the world, and the intensively cultivated area grows the most diverse range of commercial fruit and vegetables of any area in Australia. The valley is referred to as “Australia’s Salad Bowl” to describe the area as one of Australia’s premium food bowls.

Upon arriving in the valley, our first destination was a little place called Just Geraniums and my main reason for this day trip, as I adore geraniums.

After journeying through the Lockyer Valley towards Laidley we came to our turn off to Mt Berryman. We travelled up Mt Berryman Road for about 6 k’s. The sign at the bottom advised that the road was not suitable for large vehicles however our coach driver assured us that he had driven this road many times. It was steep and exciting but no one was concerned as we were so taken in by the lovely views as we climbed higher. 

The coach driver did a fabulous job making sure that everyone and the bus were safe. We then drove along the mountain ridge for another few kilometers till we reached a sign that said “Just Geraniums.

Although small, this delightful little business with its old Queensland farm house, and situated high on the mountain was an absolute joy. It was an incredibly windy day however this did not stop our eagerness to see, touch and buy geraniums. We wandered around while morning tea was served. It was a challenge just to keep the cream from blowing off the freshly baked scones but it was fun. Many of us left with our new purchases of many different types and colours of geraniums.

From Mt Berryman we travelled back down the mountain towards Gatton, a rural town in the heart of the Lockyer Valler,  where we stopped at the Royal Hotel for our lunch and a glass or 2 of local wines.

A visit to the Lockyer Valley, whether for a day, a weekend or longer is a wonderful escape. There is so much to do including exploring markets, galleries and restaurants, plus hot air ballooning, bird watching and visiting stunning national parks.

There are many fabulous boutique accommodation properties also on offer in the area.

Angourie, NSW. Australia

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After leaving Yamba, we drove south towards Angourie, stopping at beaches and lookouts along the way. Though it is not technically in Yamba, the quiet coastal village of Angourie, is just an eight-minute drive from town and is well worth a visit.

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Our first stop was the northernmost of Angourie’s trio of heavenly headlands, Green Point. Here the views looking both south and north were breathtaking. Green Point is a perfect spot to watch the sun and the moonrise, to watch whales lurch around the corner from Angourie headland, and to watch the local dolphins playing in the ocean below. Though there are no showers or toilets here, there is modest parking and a beautiful sandstone paver track leading from the car park to the small platform overlooking stunning Green Point.

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Angourie has so much to offer, beautiful beaches, surfing, swimming, rock pools, hiking, and fishing.

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We drove a few more minutes to Angourie Point which holds a special place in the big beating heart of Australian Surfing. While the beach and rocky headland are stunning, the waves are fierce, and there’s a 150m rock shelf known as “Life or Death”!   Definitely not a beginner’s surfing area!

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Angourie Point is one of the best right-hand point breaks in Australia. If the surf is off, there are coastal hikes in the national park beside the break. This area marks the start of Yuraygir National Park.

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Angourie Point is where we reached the end of the road. From here there is a path that you can take that leads through to the very well-known Blue and Green pools of Angourie. We did not take the path this time as it was way past our lunch time so after enjoying the amazing views of Angourie Point we headed over to Café Angourie where we stopped for lunch.

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We had planned to have lunch at the Hotel Pacific in Yamba however due to circumstances we dined at Café Angourie. This sensational café with amazing ambience offered a wonderful lunch of outstanding fresh, delicious and local cuisine. We all could not agree more how delighted we were that we ended up enjoying our lunch at this little café at the end of the road.

I have no doubt that we will be back.

Yamba at the mouth of the Clarence River, NSW

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Just across the river from Iluka is the township of Yamba. Yamba is located at the mouth of the Clarence River on the southern side. It is about a 3.5-hour drive from Brisbane.

From Woombah we drove around to Yamba via the Pacific Hwy and then along the Clarence River, which took about 25 mins. Sometimes we go across the river in the boat and you can also take the local ferry across from Iluka.

Our main reason for this visit to Yamba was to have lunch at the Pacific Hotel before doing a spot of shopping.

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The Pacific Hotel Yamba is etched in to the escarpment of the headland by the river and provides the best views of the Pacific Ocean in Australia. This experience is one to be remembered. From the moment we stepped inside this charming old hotel the 180 degree views took our breaths away. Mind you, I have been to the Pacific Hotel many times over the past few decades and I never tire of these magnificent views.

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Upon arrival, we needed to partake in all the Covid rules etc including signing in with the app, showing id’s and then being provided with wrist bands. Then we were advised that there was a waiting time of who knows how long before there would be a table available. We decided we could come back another time and left to find somewhere else to eat. So before departing  I took a few photos of these gorgeous views.

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What a great decision. We found a fantastic little café in Angourie.

Along the way to Angourie we stopped at several of Yamba’s world famous perfect beaches. With five options to choose from, Yamba has a beach to suit everyone; Main Beach, Whiting Beach, Pippi Beach, Convent Beach and Turners Beach

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After our wonderful lunch there was enough time for us to return to Yamba to do some great shopping in the the local shopping centre.

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With mild Winters and long, temperate Summers, Yamba is a perfect escape all year round. There are parks beside the river for picnics, a good golf course and walks to local landmarks, like the Yamba Lighthouse and the 1934-built Pacific Hotel. The town is built around a national park, too, and humpback whales put on breaching shows just off-shore during their annual migration between May and November.

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Twenty years ago, if you were looking for a laid-back beach holiday in New South Wales, Byron Bay was your best bet. But with Byron Bay becoming increasingly overcrowded and overpriced, many have started to declare Yamba, 120 kilometres to the south, ‘the new Byron’. To me, it will always be  ‘ Yamba’.