When there were only a few permanent homes and guesthouses in Yamba, people upriver were accustomed to holidaying here, and generally did so by camping in reserves, particularly Flinders Park, originally called Yamba Park.
An advance party of men set up camp, with the women and children following the next day. Farmers returned periodically to the farm leaving the family on holiday. Tents and stores were carted initially in drays and later with motor lorries to the campsite. A wonderful community spirit prevailed among these campers resulting in many lifelong friendships and marriages.
The 1920s and 1930s was a boom time for guesthouses. Camping on Yamba Park also grew and spilled over to other areas including nearby beaches. After neighbouring properties were developed, even after a caretaker was employed people complained about the lack of sanitation, noise and litter from the park.
Part of Yamba Bay, which had been used for oyster leases and for swimming, was filled in during the 1930s to create Ford Park, near where the ferry wharf is today. However lengthy debates continued between local authorities and the community about plans for a picnic and camping area, boat moorings and also a swimming pool. Billy Black’s Bay at the eastern end was filled in the 1940s. Meanwhile the maintenance costs became greater than the camping fees collected for Flinders Park; consequently camping in Flinders Park and nearby streets was eventually banned.
Billy Black’s Bay was finally filled in and designated for Public Recreation in the late 1950s. The Calypso Caravan Park was developed on the reclaimed land and opened in 1961 catering for up to 240 tents.
In 1964 Max Mulligan took over management of the Calypso Caravan Park. He recalls, “The park had just 36 power points and 20 water taps, with no sites marked and few trees”. Until sewerage came to Yamba they struggled to cope using a sullage pit on Hickey Island. The western end of the caravan park was not filled until the late 1960s.
By the 1970s caravanning had become popular and more powered sites were needed. Other improvements included petrol bowsers and a swimming pool. A security fence was installed and cabins began to appear. In 1991 Alan & Sandra East took over the lease from Mulligan and renamed it East Calypso Caravan Park. New managers, Jeff & Karen Toms, leased the park from 2003 until recently when it change hands again to Adrian and Casey Easdown.
What are your holiday memories of Yamba? Please share them with the Yamba Museum through our Facebook page or email: email@example.com