ONE of the great things about these articles is doing the research. Luckily, my research nearly always involves fishing as well so it was no accident that my stay at Iluka, New South Wales, recently involved the Anchorage Holiday Park in my planning.
This is one caravan park and camping area that I've been associated with for nearly the 18 years that Graeme and Anne Lockyer have been involved in the management. I've seen the Anchorage carved out of forest – fortunately with plenty of shade trees left untouched – from the outset, and from then the expansion and improvements have continued to make the current Tourist Park the NRMA four-star gem that it is today.
If I had to nominate the main feature that makes the place so attractive it would be the presence of the mighty Clarence River not 30 metres from the Anchorage's driveway entrance. A close second would be the fact that while the main shopping centre and business section of Iluka is only five minutes’ drive away, the general atmosphere at this holiday park is that of seclusion and being tucked into the forest and out of the way.
There is no-through road past the Anchorage. The bitumen road outside the entrance merely goes to a quiet section of the river where a small boat ramp allows access to a nearby arm, or where folk can park and fish off the shore for species such as whiting, bream and flathead during Summer, and these fish plus luderick during Winter. Is it quiet? About the only permanent sound is that of the forest birds and with the intermittent hum of an outboard-powered craft skimming up or down river to remind you of the core business of the area… Fishing.
The Anchorage Holiday Park is located on Marandowie Drive at Iluka, a well-known and justly famous fishing locality on the northern bank of the Clarence River. Not surprisingly, this town has featured in many articles in QFM and other fishing magazines.
Finding the Anchorage Holiday Park is fairly straightforward. After taking the turn off to Iluka (which is 38km south of the town of Woodburn on the Pacific Highway), the Iluka Rd widens on approach to town with advisory signs indicating a reduced speed limit. Just where one is obliged to lift the right foot is Johnson's Lane on the right and a sign proclaims the presence of the Anchorage Holiday Park a couple of kilometres along the road.
Another option involves travelling a little further along Iluka Rd and taking Duke St, also on the right. Both the Lane and Duke St intersect with Marandowie Drive at T-intersections with the well-signed Anchorage Holiday Park just a few hundred metres to the right.
The Park's entry is prominent, the parking for enquiries at Reception very easy with no shortage of room and a pleasing absence of signs advising not to do this, that, or the other thing. Signs like that tend to put me right off!
The welcome from Graeme and Anne is as warm as the Summer sun and perhaps gives an insight into the pleasure of staying at this well-kept and well-maintained facility. From the outset, as I walked up the short Reception entrance way, I smilingly surveyed the clean expanse of lawn at the BBQ and pool area with its welcome shade and ample seating at the camp kitchen. I figured there would be no shortage of room to sit down for some grilled fish on the barbie, that's for sure.
Guests at The Anchorage can enjoy varied levels of accommodation. There are ample immaculate two-bedroom spa villas and self-contained cabins. Note that some of the en suite cabins are set up with wheel chair access, something we don't always see. There are also plenty of camping and caravan sites on hand, the latter with decent sized concrete slabs on which to set up the annexe. Space is never in short supply here: this is a large facility and spreads over quiet a few hectares with some 70 sites available.
Visitors will be intrigued with the names of roads within the Park. Names such as 'Lorikeet Lane' , 'Plover Parade', ' Bandicoot Boulevard' give an insight into some of the visitors we can expect to see around the place. 'Magpie Mews' is there as well and I'm just not sure about this one. When the birds nest in spring, things might get a bit hectic.
Fishing folk are well catered for here. There is plenty of room for boats within the Park and with a small high tide ramp right opposite launching small boats is a cinch. The main Spencer St, Iluka, launching ramp is also on the same arm of the Clarence around two minutes driving time away so a trip up or down river is as easy as hooking up the boat and setting off. At the time of my visit whiting and flathead were biting their heads off in the Clarence and many people did just as well on good old yabbies as did those with worms. People were fishing from right opposite the camping grounds and scoring a feed. It's that sort of place.
There is a small island with a sand flat on its southern end almost opposite The Anchorage and pumping yabbies is usually a four-per-pump affair. Walking out at low tide, from the northern end of the island via a shallow channel, is quite easy and the best part is that one can fish for flathead or whiting right there at the source of bait too.
I would like to stress that a boat is not essential to enjoy fishing at Iluka.
There are ample opportunities for rock fishing at The Bluff, Fraser's Reef, Woody Head (all are well signed) and there is tremendous beach fishing in the surf between the mouth of the Clarence River and Woody Head to the north. Alternatively, four wheel drive owners can drive for many kilometres up the beach in the Bundjalung National Park, (permit required) in search of good whiting, dart and tailor or to pull a few beach worms.
Tackle is available at three main outlets in town (these are well-equipped outlets) and other facilities available for the visitor include the Iluka bowls club and the well patronised Sedgers Reef Hotel with some of the best views around of the nearby harbour and river. A wide variety of stores are now established at Iluka, from hardware to groceries to take-away tucker, to a bank and post office. The fishing co-op is deservedly popular, offering prawns and other seafood available ex-trawler on return to port. It doesn't come fresher. But, of course, we like to catch our own, don't we?!
A stay at The Anchorage Holiday Park would be rewarding for the angler, there is little doubt about that fact, but remember this is a popular place especially during winter due to the influx of southerners seeking sunshine. Bookings can be made on (02) 6646 6210 or visit www.anchorageholidaypark.com.au.
1) There's a warm welcome awaiting the visitor at the reception area of The Anchorage Holiday Park.
2) Neatly kept lawns such as those around the BBQ and kitchen area are features of The Anchorage Holiday Park.
3) How would you like to camp here? There's plenty of shade and the Clarence River is around 100m away from this point. There is a neat mix of onsite cabins and caravan sites at The Anchorage with plenty of room for all comers to move freely.
4) A view from the jetty opposite The Anchorage. There are plenty of yabbies on the little island which one can walk to from the Park.Reads: 1850