'Nothing poor about Iluka'
YAMBA may still be bathing in the glory of being named Australia's top tourist destination but a local charter boat operator believes Iluka could be the next big thing.
Dave Gaden, from Reel-Time Fishing Charters, runs two boats out of Yamba and Iluka.
“Yamba is the tourist destination. It's got the restaurants and pristine water, and there's still plenty of fish in the river,” he said.
“(But) Iluka will be the next big thing once they (council) get the sewerage connected.
“Iluka's still the fishing village. It feels and smells like it did 30 years ago - it's a top little spot.
“They keep saying it's the poor relative of Yamba but I don't think they've been looking at it properly; there's nothing poor about Iluka.”
Mr Gaden, a competition fisherman on the Clarence River for more than 20 years, can't speak highly enough about the river that separates the two towns.
“There's more than 100 dolphins that call the river home all year round,” he said.
“Last year I even saw a dolphin give birth outside the Yamba Shores Tavern.”
Mr Gaden said he was also seeing more loggerhead and green turtles in the river than ever before, which may be a sign of the river's health.
Enjoying a day out on the charter was a group of men with disabilities, and their support workers, from On-Focus in Casino.
On-Focus is a non-government organisation providing support services for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
Anne Towell is a day program co-ordinator who was overseeing the men's fishing expedition and thought Iluka was a good place to bring the men for a day out.
“We've come here to have a blokes fishing day,” she laughed.
“The guys are very excited; they're all hoping to catch a big fish today.”
One of the men, 19-year-old Jesse Brennand, was the youngest in the group and said he'd been looking forward to the trip.
He said he loved fishing and was particularly excited because it was his first time on a boat.