About 25km north-west of Grafton set amongst rolling farmlands and sandstone country is a little village called Copmanhurst. It has a pub and a general store – the trademarks of all good country villages – along with a public school, war memorial, hall, heritage museum, recreation grounds, parks, police station and historic churches.
As you drive over the hill into Copmanhurst, there’s a sense that time slows down. It’s one of those places that makes you long for a simpler time, without all the hustle and bustle of busy, modern life. No doubt this is part of the appeal for the generations of cattle farmers on the land and relative newcomers (how many years till you can call yourself a local?!) who have been drawn to the village life or their own bush block.
With a population of about 400 people, Copmanhurst is a stone’s throw from the Clarence River and the location of this historic village is no coincidence. Back in the day it was a thriving township with the river a vital route for transporting wool and maize to Grafton and beyond. Copmanhurst once had its own butcher, baker, blacksmith and saddlery, along with a hospital, bank, butter factory and tea rooms. There was also a creamery out at Upper Copmanhurst to the west of Copmanhurst village, near the old church on the road out to Lilydale.
In the 1800s and early 1900s a wharf at the end of Lawrence Street was used for loading produce from the farms and stations of the district onto the riverboats. With the transition to road transport the wharf is now just a distant memory, with this stretch of the Upper Clarence better known today for more leisurely river activities like fishing, canoeing, picnics and camping.
By Justine McClymont. Photographed for Clarity by Gary Parker.