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We’re pretty excited you’re keen to find out more about living in The Clarence. You really need to read our Clarence Living magazine … and to do that we need your address to post it to you! We know you don’t like completing forms and giving out ‘your data’, but we promise we won’t give it to anyone else. Help us help you …. and this lovely magazine will be in your hot little hands presto!

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One of the Clarence Valley’s most valued assets is our sense of open space, and feeling like there’s room to roam.
 
After all, our population of nearly 52,000 has a vast 10,441 square kilometres to get about in. (To put that in perspective, the Gold Coast’s population of 607,000 has a mere 1,334 square kilometres at its disposal).
 
How much we all enjoy this sense of space is something we’re very conscious of as we look into the future. Clarence Valley Council’s plans are designed to ensure we continue to protect our environment while accommodating modest population growth and enabling employment opportunities – thus creating sustainable, functional communities. It’s a responsibility we certainly don’t take lightly.


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. 

Grafton

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.

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.

Yamba

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.

Angourie

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.

Iluka

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

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!

Minnie Water

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.

Wooli

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!

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

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

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.

Nymboida

Coutts Crossing

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

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 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.

Boating

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

Canoeing is very popular around these shores, 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).

 

Rowing

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.

Surfing

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. 

Swimming

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 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.
 
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.
 
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.

Yamba Ocean Pool

Fishing

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.

Cycling 

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.

Golf

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.

Yoga at sunset over the Clarence River

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.

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. 

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!

Primary schools

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

 

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
Take a look at any map, and you’ll soon see that the Clarence Valley covers a lot of territory 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, our coastal towns have 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 Valley 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? 

Goanna Pulling

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 Jacaranda 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!
 

Highland gathering

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. 

Yamba Hot Rod 

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. 

Maclean and Grafton Show

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. 
 
 

Grafton Cup Carnival

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 streets is home to the award-winning Grafton Regional Gallery and Gallery Store. The gallery has recently undergone an extensive multimillion dollar renovation and expansion, and now boasts a multi-level exhibition space and stunning Artist Cottage. 
 
The Gallery delivers around 40 exhibitions and multiple events per year, and continues to develop its vibrant collection. The Gallery collection holds over 3,000 works, including significant representations of artworks by Doris and Gladys O’Grady, John William Lindt, and Ken Done.
 
The Gallery is recognised for its biennial 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 over $3.5 million.
 
 

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].

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.