Situated near the Pacific Ocean, blessed with a stunning natural climate and surrounded by gorgeous scenery, Grafton is one of the best destinations Australia has to offer.
The streets of Grafton are lined with jacaranda trees, which is pleasant enough for most of the year. However, at the end of October and into November, the city bursts into rich purple bloom as the jacaranda’s flower. This visually stunning natural spectacle is accompanied by a wonderful music festival held under the colourful branches.
The city also lies on the Clarence River, which is one of the best waterways for sailing in Australia. Rent a sailing boat and just cruise in the sunshine or head out fishing with local experts.
Beautiful beaches are also not far away. Drive into the breathtaking Yuraygir National Park to find unspoilt stretches of sand that have been untouched by tourist developments. Spot frolicking dolphins and catch the excellent surf at Angourie Beach.
Racing is another local attraction, and the people of Grafton love to watch a good contest at the Clarence River Jockey Club. Visit in July for the well-attended and exciting racing carnival.
Back in the city, there are plenty of outdoor attractions such as a group of superb golf courses, and horse riding facilities at Wave Hill Station as well as canoe hire at the Nymboida Canoe Centre. Diners are also well served by restaurants serving global cuisine – although local farmers’ markets offer the rich produce of the Clarence Valley as well.
Grafton is also rich in heritage. Take a walking tour past historic landmarks like Christ Church Cathedral and the town gaol, and see the excellent collection of artworks at the Regional Art Gallery, while the Alumny Creek School Museum provides a unique window into nineteenth century lifestyles.
Visiting during big events like the races or the Jacaranda Festival could be a great cultural experience, but the crowds can mean that accommodation costs go up a bit. However, the jacaranda season is a must-see for nature lovers, so booking ahead might be a good idea. For others, the trails and beaches of Yuraygir will be at their best in spring (September) or the New South Wales autumn (around March and April).
The local bus service is quite comprehensive and reliable, but the city is not that large, and the flat terrain is quite walkable. Buses will get you to locations in the Clarence Valley, but a rental car is best if you want to travel further afield. Why not rent a four wheel drive vehicle and bikes together?