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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! 

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 [ 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.

living by the beach in the Clarence Valley

Yamba

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. 

Angourie

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]. 

Iluka

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. 

Life by the Clarence River

Maclean

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.

Ulmarra

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. 

Grafton Jacaranda Season

[ 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. 

Glenreagh

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

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.

Nymboida

Coutts Crossing

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

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

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... 

by sea 

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. 

Clarence river sailing

by local 

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. 

by air 

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 

REX air

by road 

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. 

by rail 

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]. 

Paddle boarding in Lilydale

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. 

Yamba Ocean Pool
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. 

Yoga at sunset over the Clarence River


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. 

Harwood Island School

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. 

preschools

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. 

primary schools

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: 

Maclean High School Science

secondary schools

Kids grow up fast don’t they – and you’ll notice that their surroundings, security, experiences and social influences become increasingly important to their development. A close, supportive and nurturing school environment will help your young ones to become strong, confident and happy young adults. The High Schools of the Clarence Valley offer students all of these qualities – combined with a diverse range of study options and life experiences that can be difficult to find – even in metropolitan centres. 

Clarence High Schools include: 
  • Clarence Valley Anglican School
  • Grafton High School 
  • Maclean High School 
  • McAuley Catholic College 
  • South Grafton High School
  • St Andrews School 
[ options ] career links
The NSW department of education and communities, the north coast institute of TAFE, Clarence Valley high schools and Clarence Valley council have collaborated on a project that is enhancing the career prospects of Clarence Valley youth. 

Careerlink provides students with the opportunity to complete their HSC and, at the same time, develop industry skills, secure vocational qualifications and undertake paid employment [whilst remaining at school]. Students taking part in the scheme gain ‘real-world’ experience that offers a career kick start. Participating employers have direct input into the education and training of future staff and benefit by being able to recruit workers from a more experienced and confident generation of school leavers. Plans to expand the program across a range of Clarence industries and employer groups are well advanced.

north coast tafe

north coast tafe operates three campuses in the Clarence Valley – Grafton, Maclean and Trenayr. 

Visit www.northcoast.tafensw.edu.au and download a copy of course options (there’s more than a hundred). To get you thinking, Grafton campus offers nationally recognised qualifications in music and music production, information technology, business administration, electrical engineering, financial services, real estate, tourism and hospitality, aged care, children’s and community services, education, nursing and more. 

There are also short courses and TAFE can deliver remarkably flexible study options. The Maclean campus shares the same locational footprint as Maclean High School, making school to study transitions so much easier. Trenayr TAFE campus, just north of Grafton, incorporates Natfish, the national fishing industry education centre and the horse industry study centre. This is a specialist centre for aquaculture and environmental studies and provides distance programs to students across Australia in conservation and land management, aquaculture and horse management. 

Grafton Tafe

community colleges 

These non-profit community organisations provide adult education and training courses that are flexible, affordable and stimulating. There are also practical and trade related course options that can advance your job prospects and a range of recreational and personal development programs. The colleges are based in Yamba and Grafton with classes delivered in different locations across the Clarence. 

university 

Southern Cross University (SCU) is the Northern Rivers’ own university, with campuses at Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Tweed Gold Coast – so just up the road then from Clarence Valley. 

SCU’s student population numbers more than 15,000 with around half that number studying off-campus by distance education. This university has a reputation for pioneering programs in tourism and hospitality, environmental and sports sciences, naturopathy and music – in many cases these have become the industry standards. SCU’s degrees in nursing, human resources, law and business achieve high levels of graduate satisfaction and professional recognition. 

Small class numbers mean that lecturers can give students the time and attention they need while the ideally located, very green and spectacular campuses give northern rivers’ students the choice of studying close to home – with no big move to the city required! Got to love that mum and dad. 

U3A 

popular among the more experienced inquiring minds is the university of the third age (U3A). U3A opens up an exciting world of ‘life-long learning’ for folks over fifty. You don’t need any qualifications and there are no exams – just an opportunity to learn and grow. 

U3A programs operate out of centres across the valley and cover a vast range of topics – including art, archaeology, computing, creative writing, history, photography, bush walking, mental health and more. For more information visit: north coast tafe www.nci.tafensw.edu.au grafton community college www.graftoncommunitycollege.org.au lower Clarence community college www.lcace.org.au u3a www.cru3a.org.au southern cross university www.scu.edu.au nsw department of education and communities www.schools.nsw.edu.au catholic education office www.lism.catholic.edu.au anglican school www.cvas.nsw.edu.au 


For more information visit: 

[ health ] care comes first 
This is a big one – we want you to really read this and see just how much heath care you have on hand. The take home message is that whilst our population is growing the Clarence is well placed to deliver quality health care and community services to its residents – now, and into the future. 

Just take a look... 

hospitals and doctors 

hospitals at Grafton and Maclean provide accident and emergency facilities and a range of specialist services including oncology, haematology, gynaecology and pathology. 

The Grafton Base Hospital has been caring for the people of the Clarence for over 130 years and hospital staff are proud of their long history, high standards and commitment to their community. The hospital is currently being expanded with a $20 million investment by government. 

Hospital care








The new surgical unit is manned by highly experienced general surgeons with support from many local and visiting metropolitan specialists. Many procedures are performed as day surgery and, compared to metropolitan hospitals; waiting times for elective surgery in the Clarence are short. 

Clarence Valley hospital services include: 
  • Aboriginal health 
  • aged care assessment 
  • asthma education
  • blood bank 
  • cardiac rehabilitation
  • chest clinic
  • counselling 
  • cancer care clinic
  • children’s and adolescents unit 
  • coronary care 
  • dialysis 
  • dietetics 
  • high dependency unit 
  • immunisation clinics 
  • maternity and women’s care services
  • neonatal special care unit 
  • occupational therapy 
  • palliative care 
  • pathology 
  • paediatric
  • podiatry 
  • physiotherapy 
  • renal services
  • speech therapy
  • surgical services
  • women’s health
  • xray and ultrasound 

General practitioners and specialists can be found across the region in single practice and multi-practitioner medical centres, including the new Grafton GP super clinic. 

physio and sports injuries 

Helping to keep Clarence residents out, about and active is a range of specialist physiotherapy and sports injury service providers and practitioners. 

community health 

Clarence residents also benefit from community health initiatives. The Grafton community health centre, for example, provides treatment, counselling and health education services throughout the community. The Bulgarr Ngaru aboriginal medical service provides general practice and treatment services, health screening, education and outreach clinics to the aboriginal community.

aged care 

Aging in place, while maintaining independence and connection to the community is your goal and ours. But when you need support and care you have options. 

There are five major residential ‘lifestyle’ and retirement villages - including resort style complexes that offer independence, security and peace of mind; and eight high-quality hostels and nursing homes for those who require a greater level of care. All your bases are covered.

Clarence Valley Aged Care

support groups 

one of the big advantages of regional living is the support offered by a close-knit and caring community. In times of need – for individuals, families or entire communities – neighbours here rally to lend support and lighten the load. You’ll never feel alone. Plus the community has a strong network of organised groups for people suffering from illness or disability, for new mums or for those who just need a helping hand. The best way to find out about these groups is the local community newspaper – it gets delivered free to your door each week.

community Services 

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) receives commonwealth and state funding to deliver a huge bundle of community services to the far north coast region. 
These include: 
  • 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 
What type of assistance is available? Well, it varies and is matched to your needs, so you don’t need to worry but here are a couple of things you might be thinking about.
  • personal care
  • meals
  • housekeeping 
  • social outings
  • transport 
  • home nursing 
  • respite care
  • equipment (walking frames, personal alarms etc)
  • out of hours school care
  • information and referral
  • coordination of services 

The CVC community support service team also coordinate a range of children’s services – including before and after school care; along with an extensive range of support for people of all ages who have disabilities. 

natural therapies and alternative medicines 

Do we have them – of course!

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: 
  • naturopathy
  • iridology
  • reflexology
  • aromatherapy
  • massage
  • reiki
  • acupuncture
  • bowen techniques 

close to .... Everything! 

When things are tough going and its necessary to access medical treatment or services that are beyond the scope of regional facilities, it’s just a short hop to the major hospitals at lismore, coffs harbour, the gold coast and brisbane. No stress, it’s not far and there’s always community transport to assist you get there. 

[ to do ] things you'll love
Now, there’s no point moving to a place that can’t deliver on your life priorities, is there?

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]. 

swimming in the Clarence River

retail therapy 

Oh the joys of regional retail therapy – if you’re not familiar, it’s an art form you’ll learn fast; and make friends along the way that will last for life. 

Don’t limit your thinking, you can check through exclusive designer fashion, exquisite arts, local crafts and historic antiques or go straight to the shiny high-tech appliances – really, we might just surprise you. 

bright and breezy shopping precincts

Throughout the valley, major national retailers share bright and breezy shopping precincts with small family-owned stores, chic boutiques, alfresco cafes and galleries. There are rural supply stores, antique emporiums and scores of little stores to spice things up. 

And you can park for free, no hassles, no congestion, no queues – all good. 

sport [or just having fun] 

The great thing about sport is that you can be in it for the laughs or for real; what’s for sure is you’ll find your sport [and pace] with us. We know this because recreational and competitive sports are, for many of our energetic locals, an essential ingredient. 

Our avid sports men and women – from the hit-and-gigglers to our ranking pros – are kept in top form with first class training facilities and the latest gear and equipment from a huge range of surf shops, saddlers, sports stores and angling, yachting and marine suppliers. 

Being outdoors living anywhere in the Clarence usually means spending a fair bit time in the great outdoors. Whether it’s taking advantage of the river, parklands, beaches, nature reserves and picnic areas or enjoying the simple joy of your own backyard, outdoor activities are an intrinsic part of the Clarence way of doing things – it’s what makes us tick. And the bonus is that being outdoors in the Clarence doesn’t cost an arm or a leg; most of the time it costs nothing. Plus having access to a whole lot of space means you get to say... ’Go outside and play’ to your kids and know they will be fine! Pretty soon you’ll find that the whole family will be less stressed and have more energy. Before too long there will be a list of reasons to get off the couch and get moving stuck to your fridge... Now tell us, can you really do that in the city? 

being outdoors 

Living anywhere in the Clarence usually means spending a fair bit time in the great outdoors. 

Whether it’s taking advantage of the river, parklands, beaches, nature reserves and picnic areas or enjoying the simple joy of your own backyard, outdoor activities are an intrinsic part of the Clarence way of doing things – it’s what makes us tick. And the bonus is that being outdoors in the Clarence doesn’t cost an arm or a leg; most of the time it costs nothing. 

Plus having access to a whole lot of space means you get to say... ’Go outside and play’ to your kids and know they will be fine! Pretty soon you’ll find that the whole family will be less stressed and have more energy. 

Before too long there will be a list of reasons to get off the couch and get moving stuck to your fridge... Now tell us, can you really do that in the city? 

places for friends 

To visit we hear you, there are lots of friends and family to keep busy and happy – well with all those pristine national parks, great surfing beaches, rolling green hills and gorgeous river townships on your doorstep you can relax. The Clarence will soon find its way to the top of your friends list of favourite destinations – it’s that vibrant, regional cultural buzz that’s impossible not to love. More than 70% of our visitors are here seeing friends and family.

weekend markets 

More than a traditional market, these places have a vibe all of their own; and not surprisingly the creativity of the Clarence finds its ultimate expression in the valley’s popular weekend markets. For many residents of our towns and villages, a regular visit to the local markets is a must do. It‘s where we connect as a community, where we buy fresh fruit and vegies [and talk to the farmers who grow our food], trawl through unique arts and crafts, bag a bargain for the next garden project and it always pays to look through the clothing stalls both vintage and new.

shhhh can you hear it 

By ‘it’ we mean the sound of the early evening stillness, children laughing out loud, the lawn bowlers packing up for the day, the waves pounding on the rocks, the lid on the biscuit tin, the fishermen mending their nets, the surfers deciding what time in the morning for the best waves, the dairy herd rustling ..... You get the picture. These are the sounds of regional Australia – maybe they’re the sounds of your childhood – they’re still here and you can reconnect.

Yamba lifestyle

somewhere good to eat 

Now we’re going places, you can have a table overlooking the ocean, a picnic on the river’s edge, or a fun food adventure at a village pub [sometimes you can buy your veggies with your beer].

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. 

By our count there are more than 180 places you can eat out in the Clarence – everything from the Harwood Hilton [think rustic], the Brooms Head Snakky, South Grafton’s Naked Bean, Yamba’s Pacific Hotel, Grafton's Hanks Kitchen, 2 Be Nourished as well as the ever growing cafés and restaurants in Yamba. 

Now if you can’t find your favourite foods here – ring us because we want to meet you.

being part of something good 

This is the big one. Living in the Clarence is really all about the simple things in life, and showing our kids what that means. We don’t need a crisis to bring this community together they’ll be on hand for you all the time. 

Now, you can join one of hundreds of groups, have a chat over the back fence to your neighbour [yes we do that here], share your surplus tangelos with the family down the street [because they keep you in free range eggs] – you see what we mean. Anyway you look at it you’re going to get the feeling that you belong to this special place – and that’s because you do.

[ style ] we've got it
Take a look at any map, and you’ll soon see that the Clarence covers a lot of territory; stretching from Hernani in the south to Baryulgil in the north, it’s over 10,440km 2 of wild back country, river plains, rural lands and amazing beaches that just keep on going. Oh yeah and we should mention that there’s 44 towns and villages that make up our patch. 

This means we’ve got heaps of different ways to live – you’ll find your style here for sure. Worried about the weather? Then stop right there. 

The warm, subtropical climate is near perfect. In fact, according to the CSIRO and Stanford University, Yamba has the world’s best climate, now come on, that’s hard to beat. 

The traditional owners of the land, the Bundjalung, Gumbaingirr and Yaegl people, were joined by European settlers in around 1830 when the first timber cutters arrived in search of cedar in the Clarence . 

In the years that followed, the valley became home to sugarcane and dairy farmers, fishermen and miners, tinkers, tailors and merchants from around the globe. In recent times, the population has swelled with folks looking for something with a slower pace and a more balanced approach to life. 

From this rich heritage, a vibrant and eclectic culture has emerged – the Clarence has style [it’s very own]. 

events... get out your diary

We like to celebrate with a calendar chock full of festivals, fairs, exhibitions and shows. So what can you expect? 

First up, there’s the Australian National Goanna pulling championships at the seaside village of Wooli. But let’s get it straight, the event doesn’t involve actual goannas or wildlife of any kind. This unique one day happening is for the totally sports mad and those of us who just want to see what it’s all about. Definitely one for life’s “to do” list. 

Jacaranda festival
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! 

Maclean, a river port on the banks of the Clarence , is known as “the wee Scottish town in Australia”. Each year, Maclean celebrates the Scottish heritage of its founding fathers with a highland games spectacular. The population of the town doubles over the Easter weekend as “Mc”s and “Mac”s converge to celebrate all things Scottish. 

There are all the traditional sporting events such as caber tossing, log wrestling and hammer throwing, and a full festival of Scots themed entertainment, from pipe bands to highland flings. 

The normally laid back style of Yamba gets a little spicy around November when the hot rod festival comes to town. We know what you’re thinking – but listen up it’s a big event and getting more popular each year. With skywards of 350 hot rods and street machines on parade through the town centre the event is hard to miss, and your kids will get you there anyway – so let’s just put this on the list shall we. 

Then there are the traditional agricultural shows in both Maclean and Grafton that showcase the livestock, fruits, vegetables, arts and crafts produced by local communities. These uniquely Australian events feature equestrian competitions, sideshows and entertainment and are a popular once-a-year get together for the farming community. 

wax up the board 

Many places have beaches and surf breaks – but not too many like ours. If the NSW north coast can be said to have a handful of legendary point-breaks, Angourie (just near Yamba) is undoubtedly one of them. ‘discovered’ in the 1960's by the first generation of Australia's surfing counterculture, Angourie beach was declared a national surfing reserve in 2007. It is the first site in Australia to be recognised for its significance to recreational surfing and, as such, is considered sacred by Australian surfers. If learning to surf is something you haven’t quite got around to yet – no problem, there’s the surf school to get you started, the surf life saving club [to keep you out of trouble] and the nippers for your kids to help get them confident in the water. 

Angourie Point surfing

It’s a big river 

When you live on a big river where there’s loads of space you can take things slow, or crank it up a little – you decide.

So let’s start at Sunday morning pace ... when was the last time you dropped in a line and knew you’d come home with something for your dinner, really! Recreational fishing is a hugely popular pastime in the Clarence – and with a river this size it’s no wonder. There are so many spots to wet a line [some of them secret], just watch the world go by, or you can get right into it and enter one of the many fishing comps. 

Now it’s into top gear ... hotly contested rowing and sailing regattas, dragon boating, wakeboarding titles, canoeing, and water ski races are held everywhere. But it’s Grafton's annual bridge to bridge ski race [a significant national event] that really gets the adrenaline jumping. Just to set the scene, ski boats called blazen, superman and hellfire (more than a hundred of them) scream down the river from Grafton to Harwood. That’s the easy part; behind each boat are two skiers. The record run is a bit over 30 minutes – once you see it, you can’t help but be impressed by the skill and strength of these competitors. 

the ponies 

Each year in July, Grafton's Clarence river jockey club stages one of Australia's premier carnivals: the Grafton cup carnival. The cup is a highlight of the Australian regional racing calendar and for almost 100 years locals have taken a half day holiday, donned their finery and welcomed thousands of punters from around the country for racing, entertainment, fashion and fun. Horse racing lovers never dare miss the occasion! 

the arts 

A spectacular 19th century building tucked away in one of Grafton's leafy avenues is home to the award winning Grafton Regional Gallery. The gallery delivers around 40 exhibitions a year, continues to develop its vibrant collections (now totaling more than 1300 pieces), is HQ to the nationally recognised jacaranda acquisitive drawing award (JADA), one of Australia's largest drawings awards and holds the largest permanent collection of artworks on the north coast of new south wales valued at $1.29 million. It’s impressive and inspiring but that’s not all when it comes to the arts. 

Grafton Gallery
The output of our 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 artspaces in Ulmarra, south Grafton, Seelands, Copmanhurst, Nymboida, 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.

Reconnect your family with regional Australia's rich cultural heritage with a visit to the Saraton. What this means is your kids will always have something to do. If you decide to live on the coast there’s a cinema right in the town centre of Yamba – so all your bases are covered. 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 programmes, 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]. 

yeah we like to eat... the good stuff 

There are, of course, the staples of dairy, beef and sugar for which our region is long renowned, but the famous Yamba prawn and the Wooli oyster now share star billing with fresh, locally grown silver perch, olives, coffee, organic fruits, exotic and indigenous vegetables, nuts and bush tucker. 

The best place to get started is the local farmers markets, each week, rain, hail or sunshine – you can buy your fresh veggies from our local farmers and get to know the people who grow our food. They’ll even share their favourite recipes with you if you’re keen. 





Okay, we’ve got the family sorted, you know there’s loads of infrastructure and services and the house of your dreams is affordable – next on the list is your business. Relocating a business, no matter how micro, is a big thing. There’s a lot to think about, we know you have a list of requirements. Let’s see how we measure up by heading over to our It's Business Time page [click below]


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