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.

Australian Traveller - - Weekends - my­clarence­val­ley.com/hang­out

Grafton

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.

Yamba

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

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.

Iluka

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.

Camp­ing

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.

Wooli

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.

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