Memorable holidays begin in the Clarence Valley, from a heritage walk in jacaranda-lined Grafton to kayaking, fishing and surfing adventures. There are mighty rivers, beautiful beaches and World Heritage rainforest to discover, and charming towns, fun festivals and juicy Yamba prawns to enjoy.
The enticing area is in the Northern Rivers region on the NSW North Coast. Grafton is the main town by the Clarence River, Australia’s largest east coast river system. More than 2,000 jacaranda trees grow in Grafton, creating a spring sea of mauve. The Jacaranda Festival celebrates the vivid bloom.
Getting to Grafton is easy by car, train or plane. You’ll find beautifully preserved colonial buildings, a fine art collection in the Grafton Regional Gallery, and the Clarence River is a source of recreation and livelihood. Boating and fishing are popular, and small fishing boats harvest fresh estuary prawns.
Australia’s longest whitewater trail is in the upper Clarence Valley. The canoe and kayak trail flows 195km on the Mann, Nymboida and Clarence rivers in spectacular scenery - the Clarence Gorge is majestic. Rapids vary in difficulty, with some such as Demolition Derby for advanced paddlers only.
Wild river adventure tours depart from Grafton, in the hinterland. There are also plenty more things to do along the Clarence River as it meanders north-easterly to the sea. You can hire a houseboat and explore the river at your own pace. Maclean is a delightful town with a rich Scottish heritage.
The enchanting seaside towns of Iluka and Yamba are at the mouth of the river. Iluka is on the northern side next to the Iluka Nature Reserve, which is part of the UNESCO-listed Gondwana Rainforests. Clarence River Ferries has daily passenger services to Yamba, on the southern side.
Famous for prawns and surfing, Yamba is a popular destination for a beach holiday and recreational fishing. Surfers chase the perfect wave at the world-famous Angourie Point, one of Australia’s iconic National Suring Reserves. A wonderful multi-day hike in the Yuraygir National Park begins here, too.
The magnificent national park sweeps south to Wooli, a seaside village on a narrow peninsula with the pristine Wooli Wooli River on one side and the Solitary Islands Marine Park on the other. The coastline from Wooli in the south to Iluka in the north is dotted with gorgeous sandy beaches.
Accommodation in the Clarence Valley ranges from waterfront holiday parks and resorts to hinterland retreats, heritage pubs, motels, youth hostels and national park campgrounds. Check out the exciting events calendar when planning your trip for festivals, markets, concerts and shows.