Tag Archives: Clarence River

Beachwood Café

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This gem of a café is located in Yamba, a resort town on the Clarence River just opposite Iluka, the fishing village I raved about in my previous post. It’s not on the main drag, but tucked neatly away up a side street. Don’t you get a bit of a thrill from discovering something, well, just a little bit off the beaten track? And we really did stumble on this one purely by chance.P1010912

Yamba, though, was a deliberate choice. In fact, this is where I originally envisaged us staying on our road trip up the coast. Ages ago, I read that Yamba had ranked first in the 100 Best Towns in Australia, and thought “There must be something in this.” Then Cowrie Cottage in Iluka, on the other side of the river, popped up in one of my accommodation searches and I opted to stay there instead. Especially since there is a regular ferry service on the Clarence between the two locations. And the possibility of spotting dolphins on the way.P1010899

Daddy Ickle had the privilege of seeing those magnificent mammals frolic in the bow waves on our ferry trip across the river; I saw a few – way in the distance – on our return. Ickle, alas, missed out on this occasion, but actually all she wanted to do that morning was run free. It was a pretty quick journey, thank goodness, as there’s not much room for toddler antics on a small, old-fashioned ferry.P1010908P1010905

We had a gentle stroll to the beach on arrival in Yamba, but really the main reason for our trip was to find a nice café for lunch. Nothing too fancy, but not too basic either. After all, it’s not every day that Mummy Ickle turns 40. Yup, that defining moment of middle-agedom happened in Yamba, and Beachwood Café was waiting for us to celebrate in style.P1010914

We were greeted at the door and seated by a lady who later turned out to be the owner and chef, as well as front of house and author of a couple of cookbooks (the ultimate multi-tasker). Originally from Turkey, her tiny café immediately transports you to another world. There were old-fashioned roses on every table, and herbs and vegetables growing on the bank opposite. The menu is based on fresh local produce and changes every day.

I opted for slow-roast lamb, which arrived on a bed of mixed salad and leaves, with a generous smear of baba ganoush hidden underneath, whilst Daddy Ickle went for the zucchini fritters and salad. And Ickle picked and chose from each plate at will and, more importantly, sipped on her chocolate milk. The desserts were divine – oh to have been able to sample them all! After much deliberation, we selected meringue with cream and sour cherries, and Turkish dumplings with caramelised figs and cream, both drizzled with rose petal sauce and sprinkled with pistachio nuts. Feast your eyes on this!P1010916

 

Ah, Iluka

What a wonderful few days we spent in Iluka, a small village at the mouth of the Clarence River, just a couple of hours south of Byron Bay.P1010862

I’ve been trying to put my finger on what made this time so special, as Iluka itself didn’t immediately inspire me. The landscape is flatter than flat, and the gloomy weather meant that each day we were greeted with a dull palette of greys and faded yellows. And yet, there is so much more to this location than meets the eye.P1010891

First, Iluka is relatively unspoilt. Yes, there is a caravan park and signs for holiday rentals are dotted around, but it is still very much a fishing village. Real commercial trawlers venture out all year round returning with their catch, much of which is provided to the local fishermen’s co-operative. When we visited, there were fresh prawns, whiting, mullet, homemade fishcakes and Balmain Bugs*. And recreational fishing is a popular activity too.P1010871P1010867

There are local beaches for surfing and swimming, although some of these can only be accessed by 4WD; littlies can always go for a dip in the dedicated area by the riverside near the local playground. The village is surrounded by national park and boasts the largest remaining expanse of seaside rainforest in NSW (World Heritage-listed in 1986). There is so much to do…or so little.P1010858

Iluka is a great place to wind down away from the rat race, but still comfortably close to civilisation. Our holiday cottage was within easy walking distance of the shops, the river, and pretty much everything else. It did help that the wonderful Cowrie Cottage was a particularly welcoming and well-equipped place to stay, complete with enclosed garden and play equipment for Icklegen (and it was a bargain at the price, I might add).

We did venture a bit further afield on my birthday, but that’s another story to look forward to in due course. In the meantime, farewell Iluka, ’til next time.

*The Balmain Bug (now there’s a great name) is a type of lobster native to Australian waters.