Kelly Landry has posed a very difficult question. If you had to pick 100 of the best towns in Australia, which one would you have at the top of your list? Well, the team at Australian Traveller
magazine did the hard yards this year, and Yamba, a little town on the north coast of New South Wales, has beaten the likes of Broome, Port Douglas and Apollo Bay for the top spot. To back up Australian Traveller
, the CSIRO determined Yamba had the best climate for living, working and playing.
With a population of just 6000 people, Yamba has 16 pristine beaches to choose from, so it's no wonder the chilled-out paradise topped the list! It's on the mouth of the Clarence River and is 90 minutes from Byron Bay.
Yamba YHA Backpacker Beach Resort
This purpose-built backpacker hostel in the centre of town is for the budget-conscious traveller. Popular with the 18- to 30-year-old traveller, yet it also caters for couples and families, the hostel has 90 beds. These are made up of eight share female dormitories, eight share male dorms, four share mixed and five share family dorms with private bathroom, television, refrigerator and air-conditioning.
The cafe is open every day and the trendy Block Bar is fully licensed. The resort has a barbecue area, laundry, communal kitchen, television and reading area, pool table, 24-hour Internet cafe with coffee and tea, undercover parking, a lift and rooms fitted for disabled guests.
The resort has a rooftop plunge pool and deck giving uninterrupted views across town and the river. It is owned and run by two generations of a local family and they keep accommodation rates the same year-round. Many people book for one or two nights and end up staying much longer.
Yamba-Angourie Surf School
Learn to surf from a former pro-surfer at one of the best beaches in Australia. Owner-manager Jeremy Walters is a third-generation Yamba local and grew up surfing the beaches of the area. He was Australian champion in 1998, and has surfed in Hawaii, Indonesia, France, Spain and many other spots on the international surfing itinerary, but when he became a dad, he wanted to stay at home.
He offers private, group and school surfing lessons, ranging from beginners to intermediates and advanced surfers of all ages. He's been teaching surfing it since 2001.
Students are taught surf safety and awareness, rules of the surf, how to stand up and what board is best. The school provides soft, safe learner boards and sun-shirts and sunscreen.
Pot Belly Pies
A necessity after an energising surf is a visit to Pot Belly Pies. The owners started out in the Adelaide Hills and in no time were voted Best Pies in South Australia. On a family visit to Yamba they fell in love with the town, relocated and have two pie shops in the area.
Their secret is they use the best quality ingredients and describe their pies as a gourmet meal wrapped in pastry. They are also twice the size of the average pie.
The variety is staggering. Steak, bacon and cheese for breakfast, steak and garlic prawns, lamb with mint and rosemary and scallop mornay are some of the unusual choices. Of course they make the good-old Aussie meat pie, shepherd's pie and a vegetarian variety. If you fancy something sweet, there's pumpkin and maple, white-chocolate cheesecake and apple and raspberry crumble. You're bound to pay more than one visit!
The famous hotel was built in 1934, directly above Yamba's main beach. It's views are stunning and at the right time of year you can see whales and dolphins.
There have been changes over the years, but the owners have kept it looking pretty much the same as when it was first built.
Its bistro has received rave reviews, with a menu influenced by tastes from around the world. Beer-battered shark fillet is a favourite with locals. Vegetarians and children haven't been forgotten and there's plenty for them to choose from. Most meals cost less than $20 and the best place to enjoy your meal and a drink is on the outside deck. It's not bad value when you consider the views as well.
With a casual atmosphere, the decor includes lots of photographs, surfboards and general memorabilia relating to the town's surfing roots. Mark Richards, Mark Occhilupo, Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning who have made their names riding waves are all represented.