Brooke McClymont knows how to tell a story. As a talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, she’s a mainstay on stages across Australia with The McClymonts and her husband Adam Eckersley. Brooke has a fierce love of telling stories through song – and an equally fierce love of her hometown of Grafton. With the glorious Jacaranda Season about to light up this riverside town, Brooke is packing her bags to go back home to where it all started.
“When all the Jacarandas are blooming, it’s unbelievable,” says Brooke. “The whole town is lit up with purple trees. Spring is in the air. Wherever you go, it’s just a stunning view. It’s one of those beautiful moments.”
In fact, it was a moment back in 1992 in Grafton that kickstarted the career of this award-winning country music artist. As a sprightly 11-year-old, Brooke decided to enter the Jacaranda Talent Quest. From the second she stepped onto the stage, she’s never looked back. “I was just on such a high and that’s what really started it off for me,” says Brooke. “I’ve got to thank Grafton for that.”
Together with her sisters Sam and Mollie, Brooke is part of the award-winning country music trio The McClymonts. With two ARIA Awards, eleven Golden Guitar Awards and many other accolades to their name, the sisters are one of the most popular acts on the Australian country music scene.
Thirty years on, Brooke is looking forward to returning as the guest of honour for the Grafton Jacaranda Festival. She’ll be performing with her husband Adam Eckersley who is also an award-winning musician.
“I just love getting back home. The backdrop is amazing and, let’s be honest, the Clarence River is pretty mighty. I still call it home even though I don’t live there anymore. It definitely holds a special place.”
In her childhood, Brooke spent a lot of time on the weekends by the beautiful Clarence River. Her family lived only three blocks away, and she remembers riding her bicycle down to the river and around town.
“It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago,” says Brooke. “There was always something to do in Grafton. We used to go to the country music club. There was always somewhere for us to play music. Every Jacaranda Thursday, we were always there. We’d get dressed up and then go and see the float parade. It was just awesome,” says Brooke.
There were also family trips to the coastal village of Iluka, about a one-hour drive away. And when Brooke got her driver’s licence and bought her first car (a beloved Mini Minor), she would drive out to the beach at places like Minnie Water and Wooli with friends.
And there’s another reason why Grafton and the Clarence Valley will always hold a special place in Brooke’s heart. It’s where she met her husband, Adam. “Adam and I lived in Villiers Street in Grafton, so I had to ride past his house every day to get to school,” says Brooke. “I would ride past his house, and he would call out to me, ‘I’m going to marry you one day Brooke McClymont!’ He got the last laugh, didn’t he?!” Brooke jokes.
Brooke and Adam tell the story of how they met in their nostalgic single ‘Memory Lane’, which was released in July. Brooke explains that people at their shows would often ask how the pair met. And it turns out they each had different versions of the story. So, they decided to write a song about it.
“We went back to Grafton to do a few short videos for social media about how we got together. We went back to the street where I grew up and where I rode right past him every day. It was really great. I didn’t know back then, but that’s where it all started,” says Brooke.
‘Memory Lane’ is one of the songs that Brooke and Adam will be performing together with their band at a free live show on Thursday, 3 November, in Grafton as part of the Jacaranda Festival.
As the guest of honour, Brooke is looking forward to playing a part in the celebrations. “Everyone is welcome. It’s going to be fantastic. I’m going to be around all week, which is going to be amazing.”
“It will also be a great chance to catch up with my dad and all my family and friends. It’s something that I really want my kids to see and be a part of. I want to show them where I came from and what I grew up with.”
Written by: Justine McClymont
Catch the live show
Brooke McClymont and Adam Eckersley will perform a FREE live show at 7:30 pm on Thursday, 3 November, at Market Square in Grafton. This is part of the program of events on Jacaranda Thursday as part of the Grafton Jacaranda Festival.
When to see the Jacaranda trees in bloom
The best time to visit and experience Grafton’s Jacaranda Season is between 20 October to 10 November. Check out the Jacaranda tree map for the top spots to see the trees in full bloom.
Share your Jacaranda photos and tag @MyClarenceValley and #graftonjacarandas