”Welcome to Yamba. It’s a slogan seen on billboards around town. Although the real estate has been Southern Californianized price wise, the place is still somewhat like a country fishing town midway between Sydney and the Gold Coast. Geographically, it’s like a headland situated at the mouth of the mighty Clarence River. On clear evenings, the sun sets a golden glare as the rocky outcroppings and the skinny white lighthouse at the top of the cliff overlook the legion of fishing trawlers marching out to sea. As the tourists walk down Turner’s wall—the long jetty adjacent to the river—they look for the pods of dolphins playing in the main beach surf and gaze at the underdeveloped other side of the Clarence—Iluka.
To get to Iluka takes thirty minutes of backtracking North and is probably why the town’s treated like the ugly duckling of the two. Iluka doesn’t have the geographical features, high-priced real estate, rich Sydney tourists, or fancy restaurants Yamba does. It has a local pub with the kind of country people only found in small fishing village tucked away from the normal world. It’s funny how one river segregates two worlds into two economies and two kinds of people.
If you could just see the amazing possibilities of wave setups here you’d know the disappointment we felt for two days as the clouds and rain laid into the area. I know, we’re in Australia, but we’re in the country and have exactly four stations of corny-ass Aussie TV programs to watch. In fact, there’s a local businessman named Cecil who has a commercial for his Persian Carpet Barn in a nearby town called Lismore. As we watched the four-hour marathon of a movie called Dr. Zhivago, a great movie by the way, we created a drinking game where you skulled (sucked a beer down) every time the amazingly dumb ads came on and finished with him standing/riding a magic carpet in one of those beige Croc Hunter-style outfits. Exciting stuff.
The other day, a god-zealous woman walked up to Jason Weatherley and said Jesus was coming back. That wasn’t good enough for us. As we prayed to the gods of barley and hops, we awoke to a glorious sun on Good Friday. And because it was Good Friday, the local drive-thru bottle shop was closed, but the waves were workable—two to three foot and absolutely gorgeous. The only places working were Turner’s Wall and the point at Angourie. Although the town has been flooded with Easter weekend’s influx of families, the lineup hasn’t got too overcrowded and there’s been plenty of waves to go around.
Friday night we celebrated Good Friday at the local pub, found ourselves walking, no stumbling around town, as the cops followed what was a rat pack of locals mixed in with a little bit of seppo. Nick Jiampa vomited all over himself and the front-line evidence was wiped off Jason’s camera the next day both to our displeasure and anyone who might read these in depth report.
On Saturday, word from the locals was that an eight to ten foot shark was chasing fish near the flat slab atop the Angourie point that surfers jump off. Apparently the thing was so hungry it was beaching itself getting at the school of fish. About a mile away at Turner’s, we’d packed up and were getting ready to leave when a pod of dolphins were jumping in and out of the waves around Nick Wallace who was the last one out. On Nick’s last wave, he was pumping down the line, popped an air, and as he looked down, realized the friendly mammals were underneath him. Somehow he both pulled it and and didn’t land on one. “Welcome to Yamba.—Checkstyles a.k.a. Will Feral