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Perched on the mouth of the Clarence River on the Pacific coast of New South Wales, Yamba is a fishing town known for its surfing breaks. First-timers can take surfing lessons on the sheltered Turners Beach, while pros have the famous Angourie nearby, one of Australia's first surf reserves. Along the seafront, you can lounge under banana palms or swim in the cool ocean pool on Main Beach. Yamba is surrounded by sub-tropical nature reserves and is dotted with laid-back cafés and fish markets, where you'll find the town's famously delicious prawns.
Like the town, Yamba hostels have that quintessentially Australian relaxed vibe. Book a stay in a modern hostel with a friendly on-site bar and roof terrace, where you can cook dinner on the barbecue. Many have welcoming common rooms with table tennis and free Wi-Fi. Room options in a Yamba hostel include double or twin rooms as well as dorms, including female-only dorms. Free bed linen is also offered.
The town's central shops and cafés are mostly in the areas around Wooli Street and Yamba Street. This is where you'll find classic Australian coffee shops selling artisan brews, as well as surf schools and bike hire. Walk a few streets to the east to reach Main Beach, which has bustling waterside bars with ocean views. At the mouth of the river lies the Hickey Island Reserve: a pocket of bushland bordered by the golden sands and calm waters of Whiting Beach.
There's plenty for adventure-lovers in Yamba. Go on a kayaking tour around the estuary to spot dolphins and seals or hop on a boat to see migrating humpback whales up close between May and October. You can also see whales passing from Lovers Point Rock Wall near Pippi Beach. For a rainforest walk, take the ferry over to the Iluka Nature Reserve. To the south is Yuraygir National Park: a 65km stretch of forest with tropical birds and ancient trails.
For travellers exploring the coast from Sydney to Brisbane, Yamba is an ideal stop-off point. Bus services run to and from the big cities, as well as local towns like Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay. The closest airport is in nearby Grafton, which has regional services from Lismore and Sydney. Once you arrive, hop on a shuttle into Yamba (you'll need to book in advance) or get a taxi. If you fly into Gold Coast Airport, take a bus and change in Byron Bay for a 4-hour scenic route along the coastline.