Iluka, NSW

By: John Denman, Photography by: John Denman

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A 4wd opens up your options at Iluka A 4wd opens up your options at Iluka
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Cafe by the river at the boatshed Iluka Cafe by the river at the boatshed Iluka
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Paddling opportunities abound near Iluka Paddling opportunities abound near Iluka
The Iluka fishing fleet The Iluka fishing fleet
Vans along the waterfront Iluka Caravan Park Vans along the waterfront Iluka Caravan Park

For those yearning for simpler times, the little town of Iluka in northern NSW may be just the place for a weekend away.

This is a holiday destination unlike many of the others, with no big buildings, just a small community with a small group of shops. The tackle store, two bakeries and the pub often seem to be the most important places here.

Things to do

In Iluka, you are seldom far from the river. The mighty Clarence has flowed a great many kilometres on its way to the sea and you could rightly call it the focus of Iluka. Naturally, fishing is the main attraction here and this is the home port for a substantial fishing fleet.

Iluka is also blessed with some of the best beaches anywhere. You can choose from Iluka Beach, or the "Town Beach", or get in the car to go over to Woody Head or Bluff Beach.

There’s a nice little wooden ferry that makes the trip across the water to Yamba on a regular schedule, leaving from the wharf at the nearby boatshed. If you happen to be a golfer, you won’t miss the golf course on the way into town, also home to a large population of kangaroos that have right of way.

Bundjalung National Park is named for the local Indigenous people and covers 210 square kilometres of coast, including the magnificent 10 mile beach. It extends along the coast from Evans Head in the north to Iluka in the south. The emus you may see are part of a colony of threatened coastal emus.

Iluka has the last remnant coastal rainforest. This is the World Heritage Listed Iluka Rainforest Reserve. A small, but important, remnant of what was once an extensive coastal rainforest. There are walking tracks through parts of the rainforest and you are requested not to leave those tracks.

Harwood Sugar Mill is occasionally open for restricted tours, but is a well-known landmark in the area. It is the oldest sugar mill still in operation in Australia. Built in 1874, it is not just a mill, but a sugar refinery as well. It produces over 250,000 tonnes of sugar annually.

Sedgers Reef Hotel

The Sedgers Reef Hotel puts on a great pub lunch. You can sit outside by the river, and eat and drink to your heart’s content. There’s a little beach just below the pub with a jetty, where the offspring can run and jump while you sit up there having a grand old time of it.

Incidentally, the name of the pub came about from the original owner, whose name happened to be Mr Sedger. A lot of fishing trips would begin, in those days, with a few drinks that frequently got out of hand. So, the saying went that more fishing trips were wrecked at the pub than on the rock wall nearby, hence the name "Sedger’s Reef". And the name has stuck.


Iluka Riverside Caravan Park sits right on the banks of the mighty Clarence. It has 97 powered sites, 15 unpowered and 12 cabins. There is also a kids’ play area, barbecue and campers’ kitchen. Powered sites range from $30 per day, cabins from $80 and tent sites from $29. The manager lives on site and can be contacted on (02) 6646 6060.

More info

Clarence Valley Tourism has their headquarters at the Ferry Park near MacLean, upriver from Iluka. There is a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, plus local crafts and information about the region.

For more accommodation options in and around Iluka click here

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