From rich Scottish heritage to sweet estuary prawns, discover Maclean by the beautiful Clarence River in the Northern Rivers region on the NSW North Coast. The town is surrounded by cane fields and farmland, and fishing boats harvest fresh prawns from Australia’s largest east coast river system.
Called the Scottish Town of Australia, Maclean celebrates its heritage with the Highland Gathering, a festival held every Easter for more than 110 years. Two days of family fun, enjoy street concerts, bagpipe competitions, traditional highland games such caber tossing, and lots of dancing in kilts.
In the charming town centre, browse boutiques and savour cafes and restaurants serving fresh local produce. Colourful tartan power poles dot the streets. The first poles appeared in 2000 to coincide with the Olympic Torch’s arrival, and now there are over 200 power poles painted in clan tartans.
Many street signs carry Gaelic translations. A big Scottish cairn of stones collected from around Australia and Scotland is in the Herb Stanford Memorial Park. You can explore the history of the area at the Maclean Bicentennial Museum next to the Stone Cottage, built in 1879 from local sandstone.
For spectacular panoramic views of the Clarence Valley and beyond, the Maclean Lookout is 2km from the town centre. Stroll from the lookout to near the Pinnacle, a balancing rock formation that is surrounded by subtropical rainforest. The Pinnacle is an important Aboriginal cultural heritage site.
The Clarence River Arts Festival is in July, with everything from fine art to quilting, jewellery and photography. Or visit the Ferry Park Gallery and shop for local arts and crafts at any time of the year. There are markets, too. The Maclean Community Markets is on the second Saturday of the month.
Fishing and boating are popular, with plenty of spots along the river where the fish bite. And you can enjoy freshly caught seafood, including the juicy estuary prawns, from various locations in the town. What about a romantic picnic? Well, Valley Pop-up Picnics will help you by doing all the preparation.
You’ll find plenty of riverside accommodation options in Maclean, a short drive west of Yamba’s gorgeous beaches and Angourie Point, a famous surf break. What about a river houseboat holiday? Houseboats are available for rent at Grafton 2 Yamba Houseboat Hire in Brushgrove, near Maclean.