take me to THE RIVER
The waterways, COASTAL SANCTUARIES and flower-laden towns of the SERENE Clarence Valley make for an IDEAL place to SLIP OFF the radar and SIMPLY float awhile.
Grafton’s charm isn’t immediately apparent from the Pacific Highway that skirts the city, but scratch the surface and you’ll find beauty and soul. Sure, there’s the jacarandas that make this city an international destination, but the beating heart of the Clarence Valley is also home to the arts, both visual (Grafton Regional Gallery) and performing (Saraton Theatre), historic architecture, festivals traditional and new, and cafes and restaurants of ridiculously good quality.
For all its excellent contemporary dining, cafes, accommodation and shopping, there’s something in Yamba’s headlands and beaches, the boats in the marina, the flap of canvas in the caravan park, the smell of sunscreen and sandy toes that makes you feel nostalgic for it, even while you’re there.
Maclean is affectionately known as ‘The Scottish Town’: there are the tartan power poles, the annual Highland Gathering, and other nods to a history populated by settlers of the ‘och aye’ persuasion. But there’s more to Maclean than Scottish souvenir shops, amazing cafes and galleries. It is a connector: part coastal town, part river village, so you are close enough to the Pacific to feel the salt on the sea breeze, and in the country enough that your groceries will happily be carried out to your car for you.
The ultimate get-away-from-it-all destination, in Iluka it’s time to put down your phones and reconnect with life. Think sleepy village living with fishing, the World Heritage-listed Bundjalung National Park, whale watching and surf. Pack your bikes, boards, rods and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The Clarence River
Winding from the hinterland to Yamba, the Clarence River is not only the longest river on the east coast, but also boasts the longest whitewater trail in Australia. Offering an exhilarating whitewater adventure among beautiful scenery. It’s a challenge to find a watercraft you can’t enjoy on the Clarence. Dotted with townships along its banks, take a week or two to cruise this natural beauty, stocking up on supplies and continuing on your way.
There are 18 National Parks, 26 holiday parks and campsites, 8 primitive sites, and over 40 state forests in which to pitch your tent, park your van, or crash out in the back of your station wagon. From epic beaches to incredible landscapes, the Clarence Valley truly is a camping and campervanning wonderland.
Eat, sleep, surf, fish, repeat. There’s not much more to worry about in Wooli other than delicious oysters, crystal clear blue waters; it’s no-need-to-hop-in-your-car-if-you-don’twant-to holidaying. Don’t forget to pack your stand-up paddleboard, rods and snorkels; the extra time to spend on yourself and your loved ones is complimentary. CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Taking in the sunrise by canoe on the Nymboida River; A pristine Wooli beach scene; Sleeping under the stars.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Clarence Valley Gorge; The historic Ulmarra Hotel on the banks of the Clarence; Iluka’s adorable soldier crabs; Yamba lighthouse, overlooking the state’s longest stretch of undeveloped coastline.