Exploring Wooli’s Wonders

By Micky Stuivenberg

Article below first appeared in the Clarence Valley Review, 26 December 2012

Fishing in the Wooli Wooli River - fun for the whole family - Wooli NSW AustraliaWooli is known and loved for its unique location and untouched natural assets. Stretched out between the ocean and the Wooli Wooli River, many activities here involve the beach or the river. Here are some ways to spend your day in Wooli.

Good fishing is one of Wooli’s biggest selling points. Young and old spend their days fishing off the riverbanks and boat ramps or from a tinny in the river, while anglers line the beach at sunrise and sunset. Two charter fishing companies take small groups out on exciting deep sea fishing expeditions to North Solitary Island.

“The river estuary is very popular for fishing,” says Stan Young, who owns Wooli Deep Sea Tours, Wooli Bait & Tackle and Wooli Dive together with his wife Claire. “People mostly catch bream, whiting and flathead at the breakwall, where you’re almost guaranteed to get a feed, or they go out to sea to chase snapper and kingfish.”

Stan is happy to give fishing advice or tell you where to find a gutter that day. The bait & tackle shop opposite the jetty in the centre of town is also the place to book scuba diving trips or sign up for PADI training.

Nearby Minnie Water and Diggers Camp are great for snorkelling, with accessible rock pools and platforms that are part of the protected Solitary Islands Marine Park. “The lagoon at Minnie Water is a great nursery area for fish,” says Marine Park manager Nicola Johnstone. “There’s interesting ocean sea grass and Diggers Camp has a really flat rock platform that’s renowned for its mollusc diversity.”

Back in Wooli, the best way to explore the pristine river and mangroves, waterbirds and riverside wildlife is to be on it. Some of the accommodation offers free use of kayaks and canoes for guests, but if you’re there on a day trip, bring your own kayak or inflatable boat, or hire a tinny from Wooli River Boat Hire.

Groups of up to 12 can hire the Wooli River Explorer. “The Explorer is a self-drive barbecue pontoon boat that people can take out on the river by themselves, with no licence needed,” explains owner Bruce Langham. “Just bring your own supplies and music, and spend a nice afternoon on the water, cooking and eating, going for a swim and enjoying the river.” Bruce also runs guided King Tide Tours in summer when the tide allows, offering fascinating insights into the river, town and wildlife.

Back on land, Wooli’s flat and quiet roads and tracks make it ideal for walking and cycling. A must-do walk in the area is the Wilsons Headland Walk in Yuraygir National Park. The easy 3km track links Wilsons Headland picnic area with Boorkoom campground, offering panoramic views and possible wildlife encounters.

If it’s too hot to walk, take a refreshing swim in the Wooli Wooli River, one of the cleanest in NSW, or go for a surf at Wooli Beach or Minnie Water. If that still sounds too strenuous, try a round of mini golf. There’s a fun 18-hole mini golf course at the Solitary Islands Marine Park Resort, popular with players of any age. Sign up at the resort’s reception desk.

Outdoor activities make people hungry, but Wooli’s cafes, pubs, restaurants and takeaways are happy to satiate those appetites. Succulent oysters are pulled from the river daily and sold super fresh at Wooli Oyster Supply. Find yourself a scenic spot, maybe get some fish & chips or burgers for the kids, and enjoy a relaxing picnic with a view. You may even be rewarded with an amazing sunset over the river to cap off your day.