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a little book of inspiration and ideas for clarence valley visitors + locals alike

Morning harmony. Water, land and sky, Coombadjha – where the Clarence and the Mann rivers meet

W E AC K N OW L E D G E The Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl people, past and present.

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W E E N CO U R AG E Respect, appreciation and care for the nature of this special place.

“Ah... Dad, perhaps I could have a go?� Father and son re-living and creating memories at the same time

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Whether you’re discovering us for the first time, a regular visitor, or are lucky enough to call the Clarence home, this little book deserves a spot on your kitchen bench. It contains 52 fun – but by no means comprehensive – recommendations for adventure and activities. A year’s worth of sweet Clarence Valley moments, yours for the taking. We’re fond of a saying in the Clarence:

And if you think about it, every

Own Every Moment. What this means

day here in the Clarence is a fresh

is you’re free to choose the memories

opportunity for you and your family –

you’ll make: from wild nature to cafe

to enjoy, explore and marvel at a truly

culture, from family activities to quiet time, the choice is abundant and yours.

unique, really beautiful, friendly and welcoming part of Australia.

Welcome to your big backyard! We’ll see you out and about.


Drop a line Whether it’s your little bloke’s first time wetting a line or a charter far offshore, fishing options in the Clarence Valley are as abundant as anywhere in Australia. And when you’re on the river, keep an eye out for the new pontoons we’ve been installing to make access as safe and easy as possible.

The Saraton Theatre

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A night at the Saraton Just because the Clarence spoils us in all things natural doesn’t mean we can’t have our cultural needs met, and when it’s time for a hit of the performing arts, Grafton’s stately Saraton Theatre is the place to take a seat and be inspired, entertained, soothed and amused in grand style.


Submerge This snorkelling and SCUBA caper might be one of our coast’s best-kept secrets. Fact is, this stretch of coast is blessed with many days of perfect conditions with excellent visibility and no shortage of creatures to be admired (and pursued with a pointy device if you’re that way inclined, just make sure you’re hunting in a legally designated zone though). Top spots to make like a mermaid or merman include Minnie Water lagoon, Woody Head, Brooms Head Lagoon, Pimpernel Rock and Solitary Islands Marine Park.


Drive the Hinterland Did you know your car is capable of more than ferrying the kids to school, transporting groceries and reluctantly taking you to work? Also, did you know that in the Clarence’s vast hinterland lies a gorgeous network of roads that you and your car will enjoy immensely? Did you know there’s a lovely village upstream from Grafton called Copmanhurst that’s the perfect departure point for such expeditions?

“We may look incredibly happy and relaxed, but we do miss the kids: Alex, and ... you know ... the other one...”


B&B getaway Oh hey there young person! Good on you for putting your device aside and reading a book for a change! I’m glad we could have this chat. Look, kid, you are precious. You give your parents’ lives meaning. You are a source of constant delight, joy and pride. Sometimes though, Mum and Dad need to remove themselves from your dazzling orbit, to refresh and strengthen their appreciation of you, bright star that you are. So when Mum and Dad take off for an overnight stay at one of the many delightful, intimate B&B’s in the Clarence Valley, we’d just like to point out that they do this for your sake. Happy parents make better parents. You understand? (PS: Go easy on Nan ‘n’ Pop)

Kingstudio workshop

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Theories as to why whales breach include: fixing their position, dislodging barnacles and communicating. But maybe they just do it because they can




Bespoke galleries

The big show

There’s no shortage of inspiring, inventive and unique art and craft galleries scattered throughout the Clarence Valley. Creative beacons of individual and collaborative vision. Some of our favourites include Witzig Gallery, Kingstudio, Ferry Park Gallery and the Iluka Emporium.

We challenge you. Stand on any Clarence headland and watch a Humpback Whale do its epic megabreaching, tail-waving, fluke-slapping, salty-smokestack thing and if you can remain unmoved or not even slightly thrilled, inform us in writing C/o Clarence Valley Council, Locked Bag 23, Grafton 2460 and we will refund you the cost of this book* *This book is free of course. It was a joke. But please feel free to drop us a line!

The ambience of an Iluka green



Do the seven

Learn to sail

We’re not sure if this has been done before, so you could be potentially the first in the world to play all seven of the Clarence Valley’s golf courses in one week. If you pull this feat off, drop us a line and tell us about it!

If you’ve ever thought that you’d like to learn how to sail, (and let’s face it, who’s not just a bit curious) then there’s no better place to actually make it happen – lots of river, lots of space, a fair bit of breeze and three fine establishments to deliver expert and friendly instruction: Port of Yamba Yacht Club, Clarence River Sailing Club or Big River Sailing Club.

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The mighty Ulmarra Hotel



Hidden gem #1


Russell. Ulmarra’s Lord of Lit

First in our series of recommended hidden gems. Ulmarra is a gently unfolding series of charms. There are several antique stores, and booklovers can easily lose a few hours in Ulmarra Books and Collectables – a densely packed wonderland of literature. The Ulmarra Hotel is a stately riverfront establishment with dining and accommodation options. So, next time you’re passing through Ulmarra, turn up Coldstream Street, park the car and have a gander.

Yamba Ocean Pool

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Ocean pools

Sea food, eat it.

Throw down a few laps in an Ocean pool. Salt water is a little more buoyant to swim in than the chlorinated stuff, so the laps come easier. Combined with the natural filter system of constant top-ups from a friendly ocean, this might be how swimming pools are in heaven. Yamba’s Main Beach has an archetypal East Coast “Ocean Baths” built into its southern flank, where Brooms Head hosts a slightly more organic version.

Yes yes, we all know there’s “The Big Prawn” up the road a bit, and we’re always impressed (and a little freaked out if we’re to be honest) every time we drive past it, but when it comes to Yamba Prawns, we’re happy to let the delicious little buggers speak for themselves. Come to think of it, we’re going to pop in to the local fishoes on the way home from work this arvo and treat ourselves. Writing lists like this is surprisingly hungry work.

Soothing bagpipe lullaby, Maclean

McFarlane Bridge rower, Maclean


“Gables” – Maclean’s oldest house


Unleash the inner Scot Platypus spotting The Scottish accent has been voted by an international panel of experts as the most delightful accent on the planet. It has also been scientifically proven that anyone – regardless of nationality – who utters even a few phrases in their best Scottish accent, experiences a small but intense burst of pleasure and wellbeing. This may explain Maclean’s happy atmosphere, as this is a town more Scottish than, well, some towns in Scotland.

Though success isn’t guaranteed, we can’t resist suggesting that seeing the almost mythical platypus in the wild is a pretty cool life ambition, and one that the Clarence Valley will allow you to tick off your list. Nymboida is the place to go and – around dawn and dusk – be vewwy vewwy quiet…

Pippis peloton



Get your lycra on


Attention Serious-Road-Cyclist. Yes, you. (Those lovely smooth legs of yours give you away). Are you sick of being honked at by unfriendly car drivers as your peloton of buddies weave the conjested, traffic-lightinfested roads of home? Fret no more. Our cycle-friendly roads have room to move, views to reward that extra effort, and just the right amount of hill climbs.

Happy memories aren’t the only keepsakes a Clarence Valley visitor can take with them. Take a cooking or craft lesson and enrich your creative life. Yamba’s Kitchen to Table and Island Collective offer workshops in cooking and homeware crafts respectively, while Cowper Art Gallery and Studio offers earthy, rustic crafts such as Basketmaking and Dyeing.

KItchen to Table

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. Chatsworth Island Hidden gem #2

The pursuit of tranquility could lead you to a monastery in the Himalayas, or you could take the 15-minute drive from Maclean, over the Harwood bridge and through winding canefields, to Chatsworth Island instead. Truly a hidden treasure, with not much more than a general store, river vistas, beautiful houses, gardens, ducks to feed in the sun. Oh, and gnomes. Lots of gnomes. It’s that kind of place.

We’ve spared no expense. This is actually a scratch and sniff page*. Enjoy the rich aroma of fresh coffee beans!

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*not true



Get your coffee on

Tinny hire

Yes, we know, you can get good coffee almost anywhere on the eastern seaboard these days, but what distinguishes the Clarence’s café scene is the lack of queues, a perfectly acceptable hipster ratio, relaxed but professional service and truly exceptional local blends. Prince Street is Grafton’s caffeine epicentre, Maclean is the home of the renowned Botero Coffee, and Yamba is spoilt for choice.

Did you know there are 100 chartered islands on the Clarence River? Hiring a tinny or small boat is the perfect way to get out on the water with no fuss. Iluka or Yamba are great spots, of course. Also highly recommended is the drop-dead gorgeous Wooli Wooli River. And if you feel like cranking up the ol’ indulgence-o-meter, hire a barby boat from the Yamba Marina and make a day of it.

Angourie headland




Angourie ramble

The Clarence Valley has always been a place of plenty when it comes to farming and produce. Various farmstay options abound, so if you’ve ever wondered how life on a farm might feel, here’s your chance. Wave Hill Station and the awesomelynamed Cosy Cow Farmstay are particularly popular.

It’s one of those special pockets of coast. Park your car at Spooky Beach carpark and walk the beach, tracks and ledges around the Blue Pools out to the tip of Angourie Headland. By the time you return you’ll have a fair appetite worked up for a gourmet treat at the ripper local cafe.



Stop for a chat


It’s all part of our “Own Every Moment” thing. You’ll see it everywhere you go in the Clarence. People actually stopping and taking the time for a catchup: family news, where they surfed that last swell, where the tailor were running. It can be disconcerting at first for a city visitor used to always rushing, but soon enough everyone gets the hang of this old-fashioned skill. (Think of it as a free life coaching service. You’re welcome!)

When people think of the Clarence Valley, waterfalls and river gorges aren’t exactly the first things that spring to mind, but a relaxed morning drive from Grafton will deliver you to a completely new and unexpected world. The Clarence River Gorge is beautiful, rugged and ideal for a day trip or riverside camping. The astonishing Rainbow Falls is well worth making prior arrangements with private properties for access.

Yuragir walk



Yuraygir Coastal Walk Watch ’em ride This takes in the stretch from Angourie, 65 km south to Red Rock, and follows the ancient wandering trails of our Coastal Emus. It’s made up of a series of tracks, trails, beaches and rock platforms that are linked by following the Coastal Emu Footprint marker. The entire walk can be done in three or four days, or broken up into smaller jaunts – any way you want to do it! If there’s a better way to experience this coastline, we’ve yet to hear of it.

Our coastal stretch has produced many great surfers, but even they would agree we humans have nothing on the skills of the dolphins that cruise the coast on their endless surfari. To witness a pod slicing through morning glass swells and ending their ride with a leap or backflip is to see that these critters truly have capacity for fun and good times. Sea World’s got nothing on the real thing, we reckon, and it’s uplifting to see dolphins free to roam, surf and frolic as they rule their watery kingdom.

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Gorge View Lodge, out at Wave Hill Station

A photo to dispel any doubt that The Clarence Valley is about more than the beach

Beautiful work, beautiful space. The Grafton Regional Art Gallery

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Gallery Visit Our constantly changing skies and riverscapes will always feed the creative imaginations of visitors and locals alike. We suggest taking that relaxed, receptive mind of yours to The Grafton Regional Art Gallery: the Clarence Valley’s undoubted hub of fine art. Distinct exhibition spaces enclose a courtyard where you can enjoy impressive creations of the culinary variety.


Wildlife watch

An Echidna we called Eric

We spend so much of our busy lives surrounded by other humans that it can be a surprise to remember we share the earth with other creatures! The Clarence Valley has no shortage of excellent beasts to marvel at. From the mini-dinosaur Eastern Water Dragon to the ubiquitous Grey Kangaroo for starters. Bonus points awarded for spotting the less common Coastal Emus unique to the area.


SUP! Here’s an activity that’s equal parts challenge, adventure, exercise, and is perfect for the family. Hire a Stand Up Paddleboard and take to the flat water. It might feel a bit weird at first, but you’ll be loving it before long. With miles of river to explore you’ll never get bored. Incidentally, SUP paddling is a “total body workout” like you see ads for on late-night TV, without the weird equipment that folds to fit under your bed, never to be used again.

Yeah ... just officially the longest whitewater trail in Australia ... no biggie ...



Our Wet ’n’ Wild

Mountain bike trails

Here’s something a bit special. The Clarence Canoe and Kayak Trail is the longest whitewater trail in Oz! It covers more than 195 km of river between the Nymboi-Binderay National Park and Copmanhurst, and though some areas require experience and skill, a great deal is accessible to all. It takes in the Nymboida, Mann and Clarence river systems.

Care to add some adrenalin to your two-wheel deal? The Clarence Valley has some most excellent Mountain bike trail options. The trails through Bom Bom State Forest and Chaelundi National Park are nothing short of sensational.

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Iluka scenes



Hidden gem #3


Hidden in plain sight across the river from Yamba is the special coastal enclave of Iluka. Home of amazing natural rainforest, fishing options of all descriptions, a brilliant pub, and is a launching pad to Woody Head. Best of all, you don’t have to drive back out to the highway to get there (45 clicks total), because a magnificent ferry shuffles visitors to and fro, and even does Jazz cruises on a Sunday.



4WD touring

The 51 per cent

We don’t know who invented 4WD touring but we imagine it happened when some bright spark once wondered “What if I could go bushwalking without actually getting out of my car?” Shift into a lower gear and create your own off-road adventure. Discover tracks around Glenreagh, Dalmorton, Nymboida National Park and Copmanhurst. Remember to be prepared, and stick to the trails.

Here’s a fact you can impress friends and family with: National Parks take up 51 per cent of the Clarence Valley’s land mass. They’re pretty darn special places. They’ve been preserved and protected from commercial development for generations to simply enjoy and appreciate. They’re timeless sanctuaries. Here’s some evocative names for starters: Bundjalung, Yuraygir, or Gibraltar Range National Park.




Barefoot Bowls

Without wanting to sound too cosmic about it all, a rockpool is a self-contained little universe, an aquarium that refreshes and reinvents itself every time the tide fills it afresh. Find a rockpool (try Woody Head, Wilsons Headland and Red Cliff for starters) and do a little patient gazing. You’ll be surprised at how much life you’ll see.

Free The Feet we say! We spend so many of our waking hours trussed up in shoes - our feet entombed in leather, suede, nylon, canvas or (heaven forbid) plastic Crocs. So … go barefoot bowling at one of the many bowling clubs around the Clarence. Feel the lush grass cushion beneath your feet as you roll a bowl or two. It’s an easy, relaxing and super enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

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Bara Nula Cascades, Gibraltar Range National Park



Shell Collect

Roll in

Life here is all about being able to slow down and actually relish the moment. Nothing slows a busy mind – just for the briefest of instances – quite like contemplating a beautiful shell you’ve picked up off the sand. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t even have to take it home. Just hold it lightly in your hand and marvel how nature pulls this crazy stuff off.

A fun, not-too intimidating skate park is high on many a kid’s holiday wishlist, and the Clarence Valley has at least half a dozen offerings, from the world’s gentlest dish in Wooloweyah (a stirring tribute to minimalism) to the more elaborate concrete ‘n’ coping wonderlands at Grafton, Maclean, Yamba, Copmanhurst, Coutts Crossing and Wooli (pictured). Pack the pads!

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Wooli scenes



Hidden gem #4


Looking to immerse yourself in some beautiful, quiet coastal nature? Wooli deserves serious consideration. This place is a natural sanctuary. Flanked by the Wooli Wooli River to the west, the Yuraygir National Park north and south, and the Solitary Islands Marine Park out to sea, it’s no wonder that everything feels that little bit more pure and free. The Wooli River is recognized as one of Australia’s most pristine rivers – even pure enough to direct harvest its oysters. As an aside, it’s worth noting that Wooli’s annual Goanna Pulling Championships does not actually involve Goannas. Glad we got that cleared up.

Mann river and surrounds: just one of several Clarence gems a family can experience, seemingly all to themselves


Oh, Mann! It’s whitewater for rookies! Jackadgery’s Nymboida/Mann river system is a great, remarkably underrated freshwater camping, fishing and canoeing destination. And you can bring dogs! (Check via our information centres.) The Mann River Caravan Park offers fabulous trips and tours that allow anyone – from novice to expert – to experience these rivers first hand with total convenience and support.

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The early bird will always sneak a few waves in before the crowd


Surf “There’s a few alright breaks around the place. Nothing remotely world-class though.’’ (You might read between the slightly protective lines here.) Seriously though, our variety of surf options suits all stages of experience. And as opposed to more crowded urban breaks elsewhere in the country – where surfers are known to scowl at each other – etiquette, patience, respect and saying g’day still play a big part in the lineup here. If you’re keen to learn, there are several great instructors who deliver group classes and one-on-one tuition.


Quiet coastal camping You’ve got your comfy, plugged-in glamping, and you’ve got your hardy, carry-everything-in-on-your-back, dig-a-hole-to-poo camping. Somewhere between the two extremes lie the quiet drive-in campsites of Red Cliff, Minnie Water, Woody Head, Diggers Camp and others. No power points, but excellent essential facilities and wild, quiet, beautiful nature in abundance. You haven’t experienced life until you wake to birdsong and the gentle chomp of ’roos nibbling grass just outside your tent.

Hugh and Bruce, two ’roos contracted by Council to keep coastal campsite grass well tended

Happy times at Brooms Head Holiday Park.


Relive a childhood holiday Until scientists invent a time machine that actually works, the safest and most enjoyable way to go back in time to one’s childhood is to have a holiday at a beachfront caravan park. Essentials include the smell of sunscreen, towels on pegs and stripey canvas annexes, kids riding pushbikes around in circles and doing wheelies off speed bumps, the background sound of laughter and perhaps a

cheeky magpie pushing her luck by the barbecue. Oh, and there MUST be a general store and/or kiosk in close proximity for paddle pop / cornetto / redskins / lemon-lime splice / choccy milk / mixed lollies raids. Extra points are awarded if this establishment also does hot things like chips and pizzas. May we recommend Brooms Head, Minnie Water, Wooli, Iluka and Yamba Holiday Parks?

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A few kilometres west of Dalmorton lies this historic tunnel, carved out by civillian labour in the 1800s



Gold Rush

Walking in Their Footsteps

Beer lovers and get-rich-quick enthusiasts rejoice! Out in the thriving Gold Rush town of Dalmorton (out on the Old Glen Innes Road via Buccarumbi) are 13 Pubs* awaiting your patronage. *Update: This information is valid for the mid-to-late 1800s and it’s quite possible that none of these pubs are open for business. History, scenery and charm, however, are still going strong.

To traverse the Clarence Valley is to cover the territory of at least three Indigenous nations: the Bundjalung (north of the river); The Yaegl (the coastal strip of Iluka, Yamba and Maclean); Gumbaynggirr land sits to the south and west. Many Aboriginal sites (particularly along the coast) are well signposted and self-drive tours are worthwhile and permitted. It’s well worth taking time to wonder at daily human life here for millenia, before relatively recent European settlement. There are some very sensitive sites around Grafton that (with the exception of Susan Island) are well-kept secrets. For more information about this, please head to

We could tell you where this beach is, but then it wouldn’t be so private ...

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Your private beach In other parts of the world, or even here in Australia, a private beach is the domain of people with megabucks at their disposal. Here in the Clarence, often all that’s required to get a beach to yourself is a bit of effort: walk around that next headland, and you could well find it’s all yours – just you and the elements. It’s so easy to find an empty beach here we sometimes can take it for granted, but when you stop to think about it, not that many humans on the planet can say they get to experience such a thing. Use common sense if going for a swim, as even the gentlest looking ocean is always in motion. (We didn’t mean for that to rhyme by the way.)


Family bike hire A family holiday isn’t really complete until all members of the family are on two wheels at the same time. It’s the great equalizer. Parents switch into child mode and kids step up as responsible riders. A popular ride is Woodford Island, and there’s also a fun network of tracks around Grafton, including the path to Junction Hill. Families with big smiles can be spotted cruising down the Angourie Road bike path on rides hired from Yamba.

Humans – not designed for flight ...


Houseboat hire We’ve always found it practically impossible to see a houseboat out on the water and not feel at least a small twinge of curiosity – what it would be like to spend a weekend aboard? What would it be like to cruise the Clarence, select a tranquil anchorage on dusk, and wake to a sheet glass sunrise. (Oh, and jump off the roof as many times as you wanted to. Which in itself is reason enough to grab a houseboat for the weekend.) Houseboats can be hired at Brushgrove (halfway between Maclean and Grafton) and come complete with all the instruction and support you need.

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... The White-bellied Sea Eagle, on the other hand ...




Rainforest Visit

Just keep your eyes directed skywards long enough and a Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite or Pelican will cross your field of vision soon enough. Take it to the next level and join Birdrangers – based at Gibraltar Reserve – for a day, and our true abundance of birds will be revealed.

Two words that were made for eachother: Rain. Forest. Rainforest. Rainforests may cover only six percent of the earth’s land surface, but contain more than half of the world’s plant and animal species. So you know they’re special places. The Clarence Valley has its share of these magical pockets of nature. Grafton and Jackadgery are the best bases for visiting what might be the Clarence’s most spectacular rainforest zone – the Washpool Wilderness Area and the adjoining Gibraltar Range. Closer to the coast, the Iluka Nature Reserve hosts a pretty special littoral (shoreline) rainforest. How special? World Heritage Special.

Grafton’s reputation as Australia’s Jacaranda City is well deserved


Nature’s big event

There are several Clarence Valley festivals and events spread through the year, but nothing announces the approach of summer and all its associated activity quite like the annual purple explosion known as Jacaranda Season. Jacarandas can be seen all throughout the

Clarence of course, but the epicentre is Grafton’s tree lined streets. The crowning glory (literally, there’s a Jacaranda Queen coronation and everything) is Grafton’s Jacaranda Festival, which kicks off on the last weekend of October every year.

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Hit the markets Often organic, always fresh and always fun. Here’s a calendar of the markets in the Clarence Valley. Remember to take your own bags. (Yay reusables, Boo plastic!)

Weekly Markets Wednesday Mornings

Yamba Farmers & Food Market. 7.00am - 12.00 noon Whiting Beach Car Park, Clarence Street Yamba

Thursday Mornings

Make It, Bake It, Grow It Produce Market. 7.00am – 12.00 noon Christ Church Cathedral grounds, cnr Fitzroy and Duke St, Grafton

Monthly Markets 1st Saturday of the month

Glenreagh Markets. 62 Coramba St School of Arts Building

1st Sunday of the month

Iluka Market. Cnr Owen & Spenser St, Iluka

2nd Saturday of the month

Maclean Community Market. Centenary Drive Car Park, Maclean

2nd Sunday of the month

Tucabia Markets. Squatters Rest Private Museum, 23 Collette St, Tucabia

3rd Saturday of the month

Grafton Showground Markets. Cnr Prince & Dobie St, Grafton

3rd Sunday of the month

Ashby Community Market. Ashby Community Centre, Lismore St, Ashby

4th Sunday of the month

Yamba River Market. Ford Park, River St, Yamba

Seasonal Markets 1st Sunday of each season (Mar, Jun, Sep, Dec)

Halfway Creek Local Market. Halfway Creek hall, Kungala Rd (just off the Hwy), Halfway Creek

1 January

Twilight Street Market. 6.00pm – 9.00pm, Yamba St, Yamba

2 January

Maclean Macmarket. 8.00am – 12.30pm, River St Maclean

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Own Every Moment Well, that’s it! You made it to the end! Of course, this publication isn’t a comprehensive document of all that’s on offer, but we hope that in its own humble way, this little book might inspire you to get out there, see more of the Clarence Valley and create a whole bunch of positive new memories for yourself and your family. So say g’day to people you meet on your adventures, be mindful you’re on land that’s been home to people since long before the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs, and when you’re driving to and from any of these destinations, take your time, and be safe. Not that we encourage you to be attached to your phone or device all the time, but if you’re snapping out and about, share your moments with us at @myclarencevalley on Instagram. And as we go to print, we’re cracking on with the website, so drop by and see how we’re going with that! It’s been a lot of fun to put this book together and we hope it’s been an equally enjoyable read for you. Cheers, and thanks for your company.

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Destination enquiries and book feedback welcome! Call 66430800 or drop us a line at: – subject line “52 discoveries feedback”

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52 Discoveries in our Big Backyard  

A little book of inspiration and ideas for Clarence Valley visitors + locals alike

52 Discoveries in our Big Backyard  

A little book of inspiration and ideas for Clarence Valley visitors + locals alike