At Iluka, NSW which is opposite Yamba on the mouth of the Clarence, we choose to stay at the Woody Head camp ground in the Bundjalung National Park. The camp ground is in a sheltered basin overlooking the ocean and surrounded by World Heritage rain forest. We set up on a large level site and have lunch with a wild turkey and a couple of old ducks. There are a lot of people camped here but it is incredibly quiet, except for the screeching of the lorikeets and the pounding of the surf.
Back at camp we enjoy the solitude and the beach. Bush turkeys race about looking busy. A kangaroo and her joey graze on the lawn beside the beach. Sea birds nest on the rocks and we can hear whip birds in the forest. The sunset illuminates threatening storm clouds to the south but in the end we only get a few drops of rain. I return from the beach to find that Woody has lit a fire in our little fireplace. I pour a drink and recover from the shock, this is a first. He’ll be roping and branding cattle by the time we reach the Gulf!
We doze in the warmth of the fire, the camp looks like fairyland with twinkling firelights amongst the trees.
The headland is thick with vines and pandanus trees. Amongst the rocks the small patches of sand are a feast of small shells, Zebras and pretty pink Barnacles. Like Urunga further south there are wash lines of pumice stone in the sand.
The camp is spotless and a credit to the rangers, as I write a ranger is cleaning the amenities block and whistling the “Mexican Hat Dance” as he goes. The fishing must be good here as most camps have a heap of gear, one even has his rods set out like an angling shop and all are under cover. On the rocky beach out front there are sea gulls, pelicans, oyster catchers, beach stone curlews (big birds with dopey looks on their faces) and little things that dart about madly that I can’t identify.
It rains lightly all afternoon but it isn’t cold and perfect for beachcombing. The weather clears by evening so we cook dinner over the fire. The sky becomes perfectly clear as our neighbours join us by the fire for the evening. Bats chatter in the trees above. Already I want to return.