What we cherish about living in the Clarence Valley.
[ life ] in the river towns
Up-river from the coast are the riverside communities of Maclean, Ulmarra, Lawrence and Brushgrove; these are all about the peace and friendliness of village life – people will know your name (imagine that), get you involved in school fetes, and before you know it you’re running the local sports club.
The first thing you’ll notice is that you get a lot of house and land for your money. So if affordability is important this is a great place to start your property search. The next thing they have in common is the Clarence River – they’re all nestled right up next to it. Imagine the light breezes and a clear view of the mighty river meandering past your door on it's daily course out to sea.
Ulmarra overlooks a tranquil stretch of the Clarence River, and for such a modestly sized village it punches above its weight in the creative sphere. Once a bustling river port Ulmarra is now home to a number of fabulous small galleries, antique shops, cafes and even a pontoon to park your boat.
Lawrence, Brushgrove, Ashby, Harwood and Chatsworth Island
These small river villages are perfect postcard material. There are cosy cottages, small rural acreages with room for chooks, bee hives, furry friends and a veggie patch of your dreams. There's even room for a full-scale working farm.
[ life ] in a regional city
Grafton is the business, heritage and recreation hub for the Clarence Valley.
Enjoy all the benefits of small town charm but with the diversity and opportunities a city has to offer. Grafton has the largest population in the region; however, the sense of community is still palpable. The growing population is largely due to several land developments, offering families the opportunity to purchase a life long home with a backyard that you can see your kids grow up in. Did we mention that it’s affordable living too?
Grafton is the beating heart of the Clarence Valley, and sits in a prime central location of the region. It is split in two by the Clarence River, creating the northern side and the southern side connected by a new $1 billion bridge!
Grafton is within arms reach of beachside gems, riverside wonders and the beauty of the hinterland, this is all within a 1 hours drive, some destinations even less then that.
Everything you need is right here, your favourite local coffee spot, a dream job, education, great food and all the opportunities you want at your fingertips.
[ life ] at the beach
You may have already heard of our coastal gems (if not, where have you been?) and that's because they're worth talking about. We're talking Yamba, Iluka, Angourie, Wooloweyah, Brooms Head, Minnie Water and Wooli.
These villages, towns and hamlets are dotted right along the coastline, mostly surrounded by Yuraygir National Park and in Iluka's case, a World Heritage listed rainforest.
The largest of all our coastal towns, Yamba is the town that turns family holidays into a lifestyle choice. People often say they would spend family holidays here as kids and now they choose to bring their own children up here (it's a hard place to forget that's for sure). With day care options, primary schools, heaps of sporting clubs around town combined with the big open spaces (our natural playground) the kids thrive, good job Mum and Dad!
You’ll find all the local amenities and services you need from your family doctor, dentist and car mechanic to supermarkets, clubs, hotels, a popular marina and an array of cuisines in many cafes and restaurants, all dotted around town.
Legendary beaches and surf breaks can be found here in Angourie (just ask the big names!), a few minutes drive from the heart of Yamba. There's a cafe and a very good restaurant which will no doubt become your local hang out.
Home to a World Heritage listed Nature Reserve, Iluka offers tranquility only a 20 minute drive off the Pacific Motorway or you can catch the ferry from Yamba to Iluka (about 40 minutes). Think a cute main street, famous fresh seafood and all the small village vibes you read about in romance novels.
Brooms Head is the kind of spot where families have returned for their annual family holiday for generations, so just imagine living here and never having to leave, a holiday that lasts forever.
The Broom, as it’s often referred to by locals, offers more than you may think at first. There’s hiking trails north and south, lookout points and what feels like an endless beach. To make your hermit lifestyle here even easier there is a Bowls Club with a restaurant, and an eatery right on the beach. Now that’s living the life!
Have you ever heard of the saying that ‘good things come in small packages’ well that’s Minnie for you.
Minnie is all about the laid back lifestyle, fashion choice is always swimmers and food choice is hands down the hot chips from the general store by the beach.
Surrounded by the Yuraygir National Park, Minnie offers lovely bushwalks and daily exploration, peace and quiet and simple living.
Just when you think you’ve seen all the coastal gems in the Clarence Valley, Wooli’s aqua coloured river and seascapes make you completely second guess yourself.
If Wooli doesn’t tempt you with just its looks alone how about you try this on for size… Wooli is famous for its oysters, the Wooli Wooli River is known to be one of the most pristine river systems in NSW, and so the purest, most delicious oysters can be found here. Now who wouldn’t want to live in a town with that sort of credit!
Similar to its northern neighbour Minnie Water, Wooli is as laid back as it gets, formal attire is some flippers and a snorkel to look your best for the fishing locals that live offshore. Equipped with a Bowling Club, general store and seafood co-op you’re pretty much set for life here!
[ real ] country
Big skies, wide open spaces (really wide) and nothing but quiet. That’s what you’ll find in and around Glenreagh, Copmanhurst, Coutts Crossing, Nymboida and Jackadgery.
This is where the pace of life slows right down, and you can start your dream ‘sustainable lifestyle’. Or perhaps your new micro business ... think organic goat’s cheese, turmeric farm, native plants or fruit orchard!
The smiles and the sense of community make these places pretty special. And you’re still close to metro areas; maybe you have friends there and want to stay in contact. With highway upgrades you can be in Brisbane in a tick over three hours and hop a flight to Sydney and be in the thick of it when you need to be. But we’re betting you’ll miss the sound of those crickets chirping though.
Glenreagh is surrounded by forests and creeks and has loads of character. The town comes complete with a general store, pub (and its famous big dog statue!) and is the home base of the Glenreagh Mountain Railway.
Nymboida offers the opportunity to get off the beaten track! It is here where the very popular Clarence Valley Canoe and Kayak trail starts - the longest whitewater trail in Australia.
Nymboida prides itself with a great community and people moving here find themselves surrounded by likeminded nature loving humans. There is a Primary school in Nymboida that has the same amount of kids in the entire school . then one class would in the cities. The kids will love it here.
Coutts Crossing is a small village located halfway between Grafton and Nymboida along the Armidale Road. The BP service station and local hotel are a good place to pick up a tasty meal or stock up on supplies.
Jackadgery overlooks the Mann River and some truly spectacular countryside. This is old gold mining country and even today there are reclusive prospectors seeking out a living by panning for gold and fossicking for gemstones. Locals also enjoy a dip in the river, fishing, canoeing and bushwalking.
Copmanhurst is a pretty village located overlooking the Clarence River with a population of around 250. The residents are open, friendly country people with very strong pride for their community.
There's a quaint hotel in town for lunch and dinner or to have a drink with the locals or you can also stock up on supplies or grab a takeaway at the General Store.
[ find ] your sporting mojo
There are moorings and marinas available at Iluka, Yamba, South Grafton and Maclean, and there are more than 30 boat launching points along the lower Clarence, no problems there.
The broad, calm waters of the Clarence river are, naturally, a focal point for the region’s boaties. They provide magnificent cruising for yachts and a venue for high adrenaline aquatic just ‘do it’ type stuff. And you’ll meet other folks just like you with a keen boating interest.
Canoeing / Kayaking and Windsurfing
The river is popular with rowing teams and school training groups from near and far, with local clubs staging regular (and fiercely competitive) regattas. Check the My Clarence Valley website for upcoming events.
Clarence surfers share some of the world’s finest breaks at Angourie and Brooms Head with top surfers from around the globe. In fact, Angourie’s status as a surf destination has now been officially recognised — and is declared the first crown surfing reserve in New South Wales.
Cycling is becoming one of the nation’s most popular sports and it’s huge in the Clarence. Now here’s a little bit of history for you - the Grafton Cycle Club held its first event in 1892, making it one of the oldest clubs in Australia.
The great news is there’s a whole lot of cycleway to ride on in all the major towns, lots of open road for long Sunday rides to keep your fitness up, short hops for family fun, the Grafton Cycle Club for serious competitors, and cycle groups in Grafton, Yamba and Maclean to keep you moving. If you are really keen [and don’t mind an early start], sign up for one of the many daily rides by visiting www.graftoncycleclub.com.au.
And we don’t mind a bit of mountain biking and BMXing with a purpose-built track in the Grafton outskirts at Bom Bom State Forest.
Indoor sports complexes
There are a few indoor sports complexes in Grafton, Yamba and Maclean to support the growing population in the communities.
Grafton’s PCYC multi-million-dollar facility features a purpose-built boxing ring, state-of-the-art gym equipment and fitness classes, Gymnastics courses, indoor Court Sports and Competitions, OOSH after school and vacation care, and much more, we’ve really got something for everyone.
The Raymond Laurie Sports Centre in Yamba is a regionally significant sports asset. With infrastructure designed to support everything from dance and drumming to basketball and badminton.
The Maclean Sport Centre offers 3 full size squash courts, basket ball court, indoor cricket pitches, basketball, netball and futsal spaces. Additionally, it offers dance and aerobic classes.
There are 11 Golf Courses to choose from in Grafton, South Grafton, Yamba, Maclean, Iluka, Coutts Crossing and Lawrence of a calibre to challenge your golfing skills for sure.
Did we miss your sport...?
Don’t panic!! There is more!
All codes of football are represented – as well as netball, basketball, bowls, bowling, badminton, skateboarding, tennis, athletics, equestrian, cricket, squash, martial arts, gymnastics, yoga and pilates.
Grafton’s hockey fields (opened in 2005 and named after local Olympic champion Brett Livermore) have been developed to international competition standards and host competitions and championships for all age groups and skill levels.
If you like your action with a little more pace [if that’s possible], the valley’s motorsport enthusiasts turn out for regular speedway, hill climb and motocross events.
Okay.... We think you’ve got the picture – there’s a lot of sports infrastructure, sport networks, sport groups and sports opportunities to really get you into the Clarence way of living. There’ll be time to do things, and time to do nothing, but we’ll leave finding that balance up to you.
[ life ] for your kids
We want you and your kids to thrive here. Getting your family into the education network is hugely important. We know this because we have families too. So, stop worrying – it’s easy.
First up there’s choice – government and religious, pre-school, long day care, primary, secondary, Tafe or tertiary, rural, urban or city locations – no compromises on curriculum or academic standard, you decide what you need.
Clarence schools and campuses are a proud reflection of our regional community and its values [really], they also enjoy our much celebrated environmental advantages too – bright, spacious and healthy. These things do make a big difference to personal growth and development of our young people. Plus when teachers are competing to secure positions in your schools you know that you’re onto something good. Opportunities to work in our schools and teach in the northern rivers are keenly contested and, as a consequence, teaching standards are high.
More than just academic or training institutions, the schools of the Clarence are also vital and active members of the community. They are often the social and cultural hub of their towns and villages and they foster values, traditions and relationships that will last for a lifetime.
Think back to a time when kids ran around the school yard, care free, safe and happy; when the school fete was the event of the year, the local hall was full to over flowing on speech night – well those days are not gone, you can find them here.
Pre-schools and Long day care
Yes we understand completely you need to find the right option for your family, a good location for pick up and drop off as well as the right fit for your little treasure. Well there are definitely plenty of options to choose from. You can relax now!
Clarence kids go to school in inspiring environments – ideal spaces for learning. There are 22 public and 6 private primary schools in the Clarence Valley. They range from tiny village schools with 10 students to modern institutions with hundreds of kids. Secular and religious schools and progressive curriculums recognise and respond to the needs of individual students.
Clarence primary schools include:
- Baryulgil Public School
- Chatsworth Island
- Copmanhurst Public School
- Coutts Crossing Public School
- Cowper Public School
- Gillwinga Public School
- Glenreagh Public School
- Grafton Public School
- Gulmarrad Public School
- Harwood Island Public School
- Iluka Public School
- Lawrence Public School
- Maclean Public School
- Nymboida Public School
- Palmers Island Public School
- South Grafton Public School
- Tucabia Public School
- Ulmarra Public School
- Westlawn Public School
- Wooli Public School
- Yamba Public School
- The Anglican School
- Pacific Valley Christian School (Maclean)
- St Andrews School (Grafton)
- St James Primary School (Yamba)
- St Josephs (South Grafton)
- St Josephs (Maclean)
- St Marys Catholic School
- Clarence Valley Anglican School
- Grafton High School
- Maclean High School
- McAuley Catholic College
- South Grafton High School
- St Andrews School
[ bits ] and bobs
Events... get out your diary
Yamba Hot Rod
Maclean and Grafton Show
Grafton Cup Carnival
Local artists and a wealth of national and international talent can be found at the Ferry Park Gallery in Maclean and in museums, galleries and art spaces in Ulmarra, South Grafton, Seelands, Copmanhurst, Glenreagh, Maclean, Yamba and Iluka.
The Saraton Theatre in Grafton, established in 1926 is a state significant heritage building offering state of the art cinema. This venue is huge – and a real journey back in time.
The performing arts also flourish in the Clarence, with busy theatre companies in Grafton, dance studios offering classes in everything from ballet to funk and even belly dancing. But it’s the Clarence Valley conservatorium that has been leading the performing arts in the region since its beginnings in the 1930’s. With a purpose-built learning environment, quality teachers and tutors and an extensive and impressive range of instrumental, vocal, drama and school programs, the conservatorium can get you connected into the Clarence cultural scene – and maybe get you on stage as well [go on – you’ll love it].