Life in the Clarence Valley...
If you’re thinking about relocating, we know that somewhere at your place will be a stack of great looking brochures... fabulous aren’t they?
Shiny; glossy; and full to overflowing with awesomely good looking people in hero shots on clear blue sky days.
We do it differently up here – you might call us ‘rough around the edges’, but it’s more about being down to earth and everyone loves it that way.
When life speeds up and becomes more complicated we yearn for simple things, like time, a sense of connection, stability, belonging to a community; and a return to the era of innocence. We’ve had a good close up look and reckon that this is what Clarence Valley can deliver to your life and your family. So, if you want what others have - that’s great. But just maybe we’re what you need. Either way it really can’t hurt to check what living in the Clarence is all about out right!
[ life ] at the beach
Here we’re talking about the communities of Iluka, Yamba, Angourie, Wooloweyah, Brooms Head, Wooli and Minnie Water. These villages, hamlets and towns are set along a coastline – there’s around 80 kilometres of it – mostly protected by national parks including a world heritage listed rainforest right on the beach at Iluka.
These communities enjoy some of the most breathtakingly beautiful, unspoiled, unpopulated and unpolluted beaches in the world. Yeah it’s a hard day at the office for sure with all this going on. If you’re thinking they sound a bit remote, don’t. The roads are sealed, you can buy a real coffee in all of these locations and there are shops to keep you stocked with essentials. Yamba is the coastal retail and commercial centre. But life at the beach is about time – time to do things and time to do nothing.
Yamba is the largest coastal centre with around 6,400 people. It has a hugely popular commercial marina, cosmopolitan shopping and restaurant precincts, cinema, hotels, clubs and resorts, an ocean pool and its own stunning town beaches. Here you will find a full range of commercial and retail services and residential options.
Legendary beaches and surf breaks of Angourie are only minutes from the heart of yamba. Buy your coffee at the general store and do a little bit of people watching – never know who you will spot [think big name surfers].
The tranquility of Iluka and its world heritage listed nature reserve are just a 20 minute ferry ride away (about 35 minutes by road) from Yamba. Iluka offers village shopping, has a post office and great local seafood.
Brooms Head, Wooli and Minnie Water
Further down the coast, tiny villages like Brooms Head, Minnie Water and Wooli, deliver a life of simplicity, seclusion and serenity – a chance to really relax and unwind. There are general stores and connections to services in all these locations.
[ life ] in the river towns
Up-river and a little away from the beaches, are the communities of Maclean, Ulmarra, Lawrence and Brushgrove; these are 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 right next to it. Think light breezes, and big views of an even bigger river meandering past your door down to the sea at Yamba.
Maclean is the service centre to the hinterland townships and the surrounding rural communities. But it’s only 17km from the beach. Maclean is also the location of the local hospital.
You don’t get much more historic than this – the entire village is heritage listed. So if its character you’re after look no further. And it comes complete with a hotel, loads of antiques stores to wade through and a school.
Lawrence, Brushgrove, Ashby, Harwood and Chatsworth Island
These small river towns are picture perfect postcard material. There are cosy cottages, small rural acreages with room for a pony (or several) and a veggie patch veggie patch or a full-scale working farm.
[ life ] in a regional city
Grafton, the “Jacaranda city”, is the major service centre for the Clarence Valley.
It’s been a city since 1855 – that sounds ancient. When you get here you’ll find a vibrant regional centre with all the benefits, services, community infrastructure and things to do with none of the hassles.
Grafton is the main service centre for the Clarence Valley. It’s broad avenues, colonial architecture, parks and gardens (24 of them with over 6500 trees), famous jacarandas and location – right on the river set the scene for city living, country style.
And it’s just a short hop to the coast only 60 kilometres and you’re at the beach – take a good long look at the affordability, makes it all very interesting don’t you think?
The next bit of good news is that it’s expanding; there are several land developments planned and underway that will present the market with new living options in urban areas of the city, on large blocks (just 5 minutes away) and in semi rural parcels (about 10 minutes out of town, but close enough for you to ride your bike to work). You can afford land, a house and raise your kids’ free range in Grafton.
[ real ] country
Folks if its big skies, wide open spaces and nothing but quiet you’re searching for these are the locations of your dreams. Start thinking communities like Glenreagh, Copmanhurst, Coutts Crossing, Nymboida and Jackadgery just to name a few. This is where the pace of life slows a little more, and you can really feel the difference.
concerned about your scone baking credential – well don’t be, the ladies of the CWA will get you going in the right direction and you’ll fit right in. Cooking skills aside, it’s the smiles and the sense of community that makes these places so special. And you’re still really 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.
All you need to know about Glenreagh is that its character filled, comes with a general store, pub and is the home base of the Glenreagh mountain railway.
Nymboida offers the opportunity to get off the beaten track and relax in the warm and friendly atmosphere and peaceful surroundings, appreciating the small local art & craft studios. This is also the start of the Clarence Valley canoe and kayak trail - the longest whitewater trail in Australia.
Coutts Crossing is a small village located halfway between Grafton and Nymboida along the Armidale to Grafton Road.
The BP service station and local hotel are a good place to pick up a tasty meal or snack for those travelling along the Armidale to Grafton Road.
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 the and to have lunch and a drink with the locals. You can and stock up on supplies or grab a takeaway at the General Store.
[ places ] to go
You won’t need a GPS; or a chopper to find us – but if you have one, bring it along because there’s a stack of room to park it. You’ll find us about 600 kilometres north of Sydney and just 300 kilometres south of Brisbane ... Close enough to do business and enjoy the services... And just far enough from the hustle and bustle...
Australia’s eastern most sea port, the port of Yamba, serves the whole northern rivers region, from coffs harbour to the tweed and provides sea freight links to the islands of the south pacific. And it didn’t take long for news to spread that Australia’s sailing hero [Jessica Watson] slipped into Yamba recently. That’s right you can get here on your boat and moor it without having to take out another mortgage to pay the fees.
bus if you want to leave the car at home and take the local bus service you can. And finding the bus schedule, or any local transport information is as easy as logging onto the web and visiting northern rivers going places www.goingplaces.org.au. Use this site to source information on local transport services, including car pooling, ferries, buses, taxis and more.
Regional Express (REX), Australia’s largest independent airline, operates a total of 40 flights each week on a combined route to both Grafton and Taree from Sydney. The Clarence Valley regional airport, just south of Grafton, has been upgraded to provide optimum service to increasing numbers of business and holiday travellers. For more information on the Clarence Valley regional airport and REX services visit www.clarence.nsw.gov.au or www.rex.com.au
Grafton is the hub of a major road transport network where the pacific highway meets the gwydir highway (going west) and the Summerland way (going north). Recent and on-going upgrades to the pacific highway have made road access to Brisbane and Sydney (and everything in between) a breeze. The Gwydir highway provides access to Glen Innes and the New England area and the Summerland way is an easy, hinterland alternative to Brisbane in the north and south to Coffs Harbour.
Grafton is a major stop on the Sydney to Brisbane passenger and freight rail link network. Countrylink provides daily XPT passenger services between Sydney and Brisbane.
[ find ] your sporting mojo
So you have a boat, that’s great.
There are moorings and marinas available at Iluka, Yamba and South Grafton; a marina complex is planned for 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.
The river is just as 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.
Canoeing is the ‘it’ sport and popular on the shimmering waters of pristine Sandon River, Lake Wooloweyah and Lake Aragan; windsurfing is big at Iluka bay, Whiting beach, Wooli lake and Lake Wooloweyah while the Nymboida river offers world-class white water rafting and kayaking [yeah you really do need to see the rapids in action].
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.
During school holidays, lifesavers patrol beaches at Wooli and Minnie Water, Turners beach, Main beach and Pippi beach in Yamba, Bluff beach at Iluka and at Brooms Head beach. On patrol since 1908 and one of the oldest in the world, the Yamba surf lifesaving club provides Yamba’s surf patrols and many beach, surf based activities and carnivals from nippers to seniors.
There are some great snorkelling spots among the rocky outcrops and headlands at Minnie Water, Brooms Head and at Lake Cakora. The Solitary Islands marine park protects the waters south from Sandon to Coffs Harbour and is one of Australia’s top diving locations.
angling for success
All of that water also means a lot of fish! The rivers and estuaries of the Clarence are the breeding ground and nursery for many species and they support a major commercial fishery [the second largest in the state]. This abundance means that the recreational anglers of the Clarence are spoilt for choice. Hundreds of kilometres of inland and coastal waterways offer almost endless opportunities for recreational fishermen; from battling the mighty Clarence river bass up river, to boat, bank or beach fishing along the coast for bream, flathead, tailor, whiting and prawns. 4WD vehicles are permitted on some Clarence beaches and there are access points at Iluka, Yamba, Red Cliff and Sandon. Council can get you sorted with a permit.
in the swim
Grafton’s aquatic centre is home to the Grafton swim academy and has a 50m pool, a diving pool with 1m and 3m spring boards and a diving tower. There are learn-to-swim classes and coaching for all levels.
The centre is a popular leisure facility and its waterslide, toddlers’ pool, barbeques, picnic areas, beach volleyball and handball courts attract families from throughout the region.
The Grafton lifestyle centre, in South Grafton, is a fully equipped fitness centre with a 25m indoor pool, hydrotherapy pool, gymnasium, gymnastics area, fitness studio and aerobics area. Swimming lessons and squad coaching are available, and the lifestyle centre also offers fitness classes and gym workouts.
At the southern end of Yamba’s beautiful main beach is an ocean pool in the traditional Australian style — a man-made rock pool that is washed by the ocean’s waves and tides. Definitely give this a try.
The Maclean Olympic pool features an 8-lane competition pool, learners’ and toddlers’ pools and a waterslide. There are learn-to-swim classes and swim squad training. The 25-metre yamba community pool is a heated, 6 lane pool with coaching for all ages. There is a 10m toddlers’ pool, barbecue facilities and a kiosk. Glenreagh has a 16m pool and toddler’s pool.
Cycling for everyone
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 bmx-ing with a purpose built track in the Grafton outskirts.
Indoor sports complexes
Not one, but two indoor sports complexes have been constructed in yamba and maclean to support the growing population in these coastal communities.
The state of the art 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. In Maclean the sport centre offers 3 full size squash courts, indoor cricket pitches, basketball, netball and futsal spaces.
but what about ...?
Don’t panic, all codes of football are represented – as well as netball, basketball, bowls, bowling, badminton, BMX, skateboarding, tennis, athletics, equestrian, cricket, squash, gymnastics, yoga and many, many more
There are more than 30 bowling greens, 11 golf courses, over 60 tennis courts, 37 cricket pitches and almost 80 children’s playgrounds.
Grafton’s regional sports and entertainment facility is the home of the Grafton vikings basketball team. It has 4 indoor courts with grandstand seating and also has facilities for netball, futsal, volleyball, archery, lifeball and badminton. 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.
There’ll be time to do things, and time to do nothing, but we’ll leave finding that balance up to you.
The Angourie road sporting complex [near Yamba] plays host to a heap of sporting codes including netball, soccer, rugby league, touch football, tennis, swimming, cricket and athletics.
Ellem oval in Grafton is widely acclaimed as one of the finest cricket wickets in the northern rivers region and the city’s 18- hole championship golf course is one of the most picturesque and environmentally friendly on the coast. There are also courses in Yamba, Maclean, Iluka, Coutts Crossing and Lawrence of a calibre to challenge your golfing skill for sure.
Cycling is another sport with a rich and proud history in the Clarence . The local club stages summer and winter competitions, and the flagship event, the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic is hailed as the toughest single-stage cycling event in the world.
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, independent and religious, pre-school, 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.
Yes we understand completely you need to find a preschool for your little ones that is close by, well you have a choice of 25. These are located in all the major towns and population centres. There’ll be a preschool solution for your family - relax.
Clarence kids go to school in inspiring environments – ideal spaces for learning. There are 23 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
- Woodford Dale Public School
- Wooli Public School
- Yamba Public School
- The Anglican School
- Pacific Valley Christian School (Maclean)
- St Andrews School (Grafton)
- St James Primary School
- 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
[ options ] career links
north coast tafe
[ health ] care comes first
hospitals and doctors
- Aboriginal health
- aged care assessment
- asthma education
- blood bank
- cardiac rehabilitation
- chest clinic
- cancer care clinic
- children’s and adolescents unit
- coronary care
- high dependency unit
- immunisation clinics
- maternity and women’s care services
- neonatal special care unit
- occupational therapy
- palliative care
- renal services
- speech therapy
- surgical services
- women’s health
- xray and ultrasound
physio and sports injuries
- Clarence Valley community options
- Children’s Services
- Dementia Rehabilitation at Home
- Disability Support Services
- Extended Aged Care at Home
- Maclean Lower Clarence Meals on Wheels
- Regional Integrated Support Service
- Social Support
- Your Choice - Flexible Respite Solution
- personal care
- social outings
- home nursing
- respite care
- equipment (walking frames, personal alarms etc)
- out of hours school care
- information and referral
- coordination of services
natural therapies and alternative medicines
The community is a hotpot of ideas and opinions, philosophies and beliefs, disciplines and practices.
Throughout the Clarence there are practitioners in healing and therapeutic arts from all corners of the ancient and modern worlds. There are alternative and orthodox therapies that use ancient wisdom and modern techniques to heal both body and soul.
Some of the ever-changing range of therapies include:
- bowen techniques
close to .... Everything!
[ to do ] things you'll love
So let’s see if we can get to the bottom of what’s important to you. To help you out, here’s our handy ‘cut-out-and-keep’ list of things that matter around here [and maybe to you as well].
bright and breezy shopping precincts
sport [or just having fun]
places for friends
shhhh can you hear it
somewhere good to eat
The thing is food is a big part of the northern rivers, in fact as a region more than 14,000 of us work in the food industry [that’s a lot]. And by the way we produce about $2.4 billion worth of product and value added food goods, of which over a $1 billion are exported.
being part of something good
[ style ] we've got it
events... get out your diary
There’s not many places left that have their very own queen (and princess come to think of it). The reign only lasts a year but the experience of being jacaranda queen stays with you forever. Yep it’s retro alright, but fun and the crowning is always a highlight for visitors. In market square, blanketed in purple Jaca blooms the night unfolds much like it would have back in 1935 when the event kicked off. On a serious note Grafton's annual Jacaranda Festival is Australia's oldest family floral festival and also a springtime expression of thanksgiving!