Located in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Iluka is situated a 17 km drive off the Pacific Highway, 60 km north of Grafton and 76 km south of Ballina. Nestling idyllically on the northern mouth of the Clarence River, Iluka is surrounded by Bundjalung National Park, World Heritage listed Rainforest, the mighty Clarence River and the South Pacific Ocean.
Iluka was proclaimed a township in 1885 and still offers a lifestyle and holiday destination that is a throwback to the past. With a permanent population of around 2500, Iluka has so far avoided the over commercialised coastal development that now characterises many seaside destinations, enabling it to offer a truly relaxing holiday experience centred on water based activities and walking – the latter can also be enjoyed as an aspect of a game of bowls or round of golf at the local clubs.
….and the local fleet plies its trade from the Iluka harbour returning with its catch to the local fishing co-operative. Recreational fishing in Iluka is excellent and well renowned, with an abundance of good fishing spots along the river, ocean shore or accessible by boat but be warned, you may have to compete with resident dolphins and pelicans for your catch.
Iluka is also fortunate to have the largest remnant of seaside (littoral) rainforest in NSW
…..and this is easily enjoyed via a gentle, well defined walking track that meanders through the forest and facilitates access for the disabled. The rainforest obtains moisture from the ocean that is filtered by the sand and supports rich vegetation and abundant bird life. Iluka is a haven for Australian fauna with coastal kangaroos and many rare species of birds including sea eagles, ospreys and oyster catchers regularly seen in the vicinity.
There are excellent surfing and swimming beaches
…..including a netted area in Iluka Bay and there is 4WD access (permit required) to many kilometres of unspoilt beach in and around Iluka. Surfing is best adjacent to the Northern Break Wall or at Iluka Bluff where the more energetic can walk up to the spectacular lookout and enjoy the view or watch for whales on their annual breeding migration.
Whilst certainly not overdeveloped, Iluka offers a wide range of visitor accommodation from motel to caravan park, from swish self catering apartment to tent and although you will not find any shopping malls in Iluka you will find retail outlets offering all you need to survive including a local pub, a butcher, supermarkets, bakers, cafes, gift shops, a post office, a newsagent and a chemist. There are several real estate agents in Iluka and any will be keen to help you plan your holiday, whether it is an extended break for several weeks or an impromptu weekend break from the rat race.
Iluka offers loads of things to see and do. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
The Bundjalung National Park, named after the Aboriginal tribe, which occupied this area, stretches from the northern edge of lluka to Evans Head. Colourful parrots and other wildlife regard Iluka as an extension of the park and their presence delights visitors and residents.
The NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service offers guided ranger programs during many school holidays (information and brochures available from Visitor Information Centres). Vehicle entrance fees apply to all areas other than Iluka Bluff.
Iluka Bluff & Whale Watching Platform
The town’s best surfing beach is at Iluka Bluff, which can be reached by a short drive or via the rainforest walking track. There is a splendid lookout, whale watch platform and rainforest display here (NPWS entry fees do not apply). The views from the whalewatch platform include Yamba and the river mouth and extend north across many beaches and bays. A whale watching brochure is available from Visitor Centres. Download a local map here.
Iluka Nature Reserve
The World Heritage listed Iluka Nature Reserve contains the largest remnant of seaside (littoral) rainforest in NSW. This rainforest obtains moisture from the nearby ocean, filtered by the sand, and it supports rich vegetation and abundant bird and animal life.
Visitors and local residents alike enjoy walking through the Reserve to marvel at some of nature’s finest work. The rainforest contains a diversity of plants and animals. Common birds to see along the walk include the Rufous Fantail, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, White-browed Scrubwren and the Golden Whistler.
The southern entrance to the walking track is in Long Street. The northern entrance is at the Iluka Bluff picnic area. The track itself is 2.5km (one-way) and a circuit can be created by returning via Iluka Beach. The track is easy to walk and a section in the north is wheelchair accessible. Download a local map here.
Picnic Areas & Playgrounds
Within the town, Rotary Park at the western tip of the Bay adjoining the harbour, is a shady picnic area beside the netted swimming area. Charlie Ryan Park, near the Rowing Shed, has a sandy beach and children’s play equipment. The picnic area at the Spenser St boat ramp has BBQ’s, covered picnic tables and beautiful views across the Clarence River. Download a local map here.
Sport & Recreation
For a small town Iluka boasts some excellent facilities including a nine-hole golf course, bowling greens, a rowing club and a sports oval (home of the Iluka Cossacks) with adjacent tennis courts. Iluka is well known as a top spot for recreational fishing. For further information download a local map here.
Iluka Yamba Ferry
The Iluka-Yamba ferry runs timetabled daily passenger services from the Iluka Boatshed offering visitors the opportunity to take advantage of this scenic crossing between the two major resort towns of the Clarence. Watch for the wild dolphins at play in the Bay. Clarence River Ferries also offer regular river cruises that explore the mighty Clarence River. For further information download a copy of the Ferry Timetable here.
The Iluka boat harbour is home to a commercial trawler fleet and amazing fresh seafood can be purchased from the Clarence River Fishermen’s Cooperative shop alongside the harbour.
Surfing & Beaches
There are excellent surfing and swimming beaches around Iluka, including Iluka Bluff, Back Beach, Frazers Reef and Woody Head. One of the town’s best surfing beaches is at Iluka Bluff that can be reached by a short drive or via the rainforest walking track. For the less adventurous there is a netted, family swimming area with playground and picnic facilities in Charlie Ryan Park at the western tip of Iluka Bay. Download a local map here.