A life lesson from our week in Yamba, northern New South Wales


I’m writing this sitting on the grassy banks above the Main Beach of Yamba, northern NSW, having just been swimming, body surfing and building sand creations. My husband and the kids are at the beach below, and I’ve got a chance to write.

We’re currently spending a week in this lovely place and if you haven’t been before, I highly recommend visiting (or staying a while). Picture an old style beach town with all the conveniences you could want within walking distance.  We’ve got a few more days so I’ll hold off on writing up a wrap until we’ve done a bit more (although frankly, we might stick with our current pattern of beaches, pools, tennis, eating out … ). Of course, if you have been to Yamba before you probably want as little shared as possible, keeping the knowledge to yourself. Which I totally understand (but I suspect it’s too late).

Anyway – time away is time to think. And read. Plus do those things I ‘never’ have time to do. Like moving a lot more, sleeping more, relaxing, playing without rushing, and having less opportunities for sneaky snacks. These are great – not surprising though – and I know I need to make time for them, by letting go of some of the other ‘must do’ activities that fill up my day.

I thought I’d share one of my thoughts with you. You might see, in the top photo, the southern ‘wall’ which has been built many years ago at the mouth of the Clarence River. There’s another one (the ‘northern wall’ unsurprisingly) and together they keep the sand from building up at the exit from the Clarence River.

When I saw the walls I had a flashback to Year 12 geography (a fact that no doubt would make my retired geography teacher father proud). Breakwaters, or sea walls, or groynes, are some of the range of structures used to stop natural systems getting in the way of human aspirations. The Clarence River (which seems to include the preface ‘the mighty’ in all the brochures) was once an important transport corridor, shipping things from Grafton and the farming land around out to sea. It might still be – I’m not sure. So to keep the mouth of the river clear was important.

However putting these structures in place comes at a cost. There’s currently more restoration work underway – I pointed out excitedly to my kids the digger in action and then remembered they were past the stage of finding that exciting.

Millions of dollars are spent on a regular basis to keep the walls functional, given the battering they receive from the sea. In other locations human structures create different consequences. Beaches denuded of sand, for instance, rely on mechanical pumping from off shore (ie. Noosa Main Beach, as one example), habitats are changed and species disappear, and ongoing protection is needed for housing built close to the sea’s edge.


So what’s my insight after reflecting on these human creations?

Sometimes building a wall –  a physical wall, or a wall which serves as your position on issues, or your definitive life choice which shifts your future course, is important. Some things matter and if we never put the effort in, stand up for what we believe is right, never strive toward an outcomes, well, we may find ourselves washed out to sea (so to speak).

But building a structure, or taking a stand, does comes at a cost. When we do, we need to be prepared for the potential battering we may receive as waves, storms, or other people knock into you (including surfers – some of those guys are dangerous). It’s important to carefully chose the things you’re going make steadfast and non negotiable. On some things, it’s nice to coast for a while and see where it takes you.

Oh, and my other lesson? Sometimes taking a break is the best thing. So excuse me – I’ve got a bit more bodysurfing to try now.

Have you been fortunate enough to have a holiday recently?

What are some of the highlights for you?

11 thoughts on “A life lesson from our week in Yamba, northern New South Wales

  1. Nice work, Helen. The sea analogy is very effective and thought provoking!

    Glad you are all having a good time.

    Love to All,

    Mum etcxxxx

    Sent by iPad power



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