Bundjalung National Park joins Yuraygir National Park north of Yamba, across New South Wales’ largest, the Clarence River. Together with Broadwater National Park, they form New South Wales largest stretch of protected coastline. It is the traditional homelands of the ‘Gumaynggirr’ and ‘Yaegl’ Nations who still have a large cultural and spiritual influence here.
The Iluka Nature Reserve is listed as a World Heritage Gondwana Rainforest. Endless sandy beaches are cut off by towering headlands and stretch all the way north to Shark Bay. The headlands are ideal to watch whale migration along this coastline north between April and June, before migrating south again in early spring. This coastline is rich with marine life as many marine sanctuaries had been instated by government bodies.
Just north of the small fishing village, Iluka is a very popular campground called ‘Woody Head’.
Named after thick forest found along the shoreline, which is gradually being claimed back by the ocean.
Storms and rough seas wash out underneath the tree’s soil, which then eventually collapse on to the beach.
A rather bizarre looking tree graveyard covers the beach. Experts calculated the land decline to reach the main road by 2050, not a swell prognosis.
Many campers bring their fishing boats on their holidays, or at least a few fishing rods. This is a very popular spot to launch their boats for local fishermen too, also a major drawcard for me. I have taken my kayak out here many times. Even in calm conditions, crossing the extended reef from the headland can be quite nervy, as unpredictable swell may appear at any time. I found out in rather an unpleasant way.
A large wave out east had my name written all over. Seeing the wave building up towards me, I realised there was no chance off escape. Holding on to Maniyak, we got dragged along the surface for a while. I was able to flip the kayak over again and swung back on board. Quickly organizing my gear, I headed back to shore. If I had been separated from my kayak, the outcome could have been more dramatic. The bay is called Shark Bay for a reason.
Sunset image at low tide at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia
Even though being in a National Park, camping prices at Woody Head soar to usual caravan park rates, making it a costly family holiday. Nevertheless, with stunning nature and wildlife around, camping spots need to be booked well in advance for the upcoming family holiday. There is always a friendly happy chatty atmosphere within all campers.
The reef extending north into the ocean shelters the southwestern corner of Shark Bay from the heavy swell.
This area is great for kids to play or swim safety in shallow waters. It is ideal for kayaking and snorkeling as well.
Fishermen often try their luck there too.
The headland sustains the oncoming waves in spectacular fashion. Rock fishing can be risky business here. It is believed, that these weathered rock formations are from volcanic activity.
The bizarre looking and from ocean waters carved rocks give this headland a distinctive, yet scurry structure. Early mornings or late afternoon sunlight adds to a colourful display.
Tidal pools on soft sand are like a natural spa, most enjoyed by some holidaymakers. Rock pools, full of small marine life, dot the tidal zone. Small fish, crabs, and snails can be observed in clear waters.
This is a favourite resting area for terns, seagulls, and pelicans, who are always on the lookout for any passing baitfish.
Not only is the ocean shoreline full of life. The local flora and fauna are teeming with life too.
There is an abundance of Australian wildlife around Woody Head campground. You might see native species such as kangaroos and monitor lizards, along with native birds.
Brush Turkeys and monitor lizards comb through bush and camp spots for food.
It is recommended to keep all food sealed and above the ground. Foxes, an introduced ‘pest’ animal can be spotted at nighttime with torches, as their eyes reflect the light.
Pythons and other snakes are rarely seen. However, this one, all curled up, hung out at the same spot for 3 days, keeping an eye out what’s going on underneath.
A few small families of Australia’s most iconic marsupials, the kangaroo, roam the grassy areas early mornings and late afternoons.
Generally shy in nature, these Eastern Grey Kangaroos are very much used to human contact, which gives perfect photo opportunities.