Local Grafton Attractions

At the heart of the Northern Rivers region lies Grafton, an historic town lined with glorious Victorian and Edwardian architecture, on the banks of the Clarence River. With the arrival of spring, this pocket of North Coast NSW becomes the most Instagrammable destination in the state as the more than 2,000 jacaranda trees that line streets turning the town an eye-popping shade of purple.

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Festivals & Events

Over the spring months, jacarandas sprinkle NSW with an iridescent rain of purple flowers. And while the entire state appreciates the dose of imported Japanese colour, they’re particularly revered in Grafton. Here, October/November’s annual Grafton Jacaranda Festival (the oldest floral celebration in the country) paints the entire town lilac, from specially curated art exhibits to nightly fireworks, parades, markets and entertainment.

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Natural Wonders

Grafton is the gateway to the wild rivers, ravishing gorges and ancient rainforest of nearby Nymboida National Park. Here, forest-clad escarpments create a striking backdrop for paddling, hiking, camping and 4WD touring, with all manner of birds in your company from white-bellied sea eagles to elegant osprey. In summer, nothing beats a swim in the cool, clear waters of the river. Pick a safe spot, and revel in the tranquillity of this unspoilt place.

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History & Culture

Even minus the flowers, Grafton’s broad avenues offer reasons to linger, with many of its buildings significant National Trust sites. Take them in on the self-guided Grafton Heritage Trail, highlighting the Grafton Gaol and 1884 Christ Church Cathedral, as well as the Clarence River Historical Society at Schaeffer House, a magnificent Federation homestead. Don’t miss the 1915 Bendy Bridge, particularly popular near dusk when visitors flock to its walkway for sunset views over the river.

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Local Dining

The formal dining scene around town unites country swagger with innovation, from cafes and restaurants to breweries and pubs. Not least the legendary century-old Ulmarra Hotel just outside of town, replete with an expansive veranda and one of the best beer gardens in the state – as voted by those in the know.

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Grafton Regional Gallery

The Grafton Regional Gallery is located in the heritage precinct of Grafton and is a cultural hub for the region.

The Gallery provides a dynamic program of exhibitions, events and tourism services.

Historic Prentice House is surrounded by a cottage garden that attracts visitors who wish to enjoy arts and culture in a tranquil environment.

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Clarence River

From kayaking rapids in the rugged highlands of the upper Clarence, sailing, boating, or even water skiing the wide open body of the river, to surfing the golden beaches of Yamba, the Clarence River has got you covered.

The Clarence River, which just happens to be the largest river on the eastern seaboard (fun fact), winds through deep ravines and broad plains, ancient forests, lush farmland, sleepy villages and 100 chartered islands.

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Nymboida National Park

Trek in the wilderness, canoe the rapids, explore the region’s history and camp in pristine bush along Nymboida and Mann rivers at Nymboida National Park.

If you want complete immersion in nature, Nymboida National Park gives you the chance to canoe the rapids on Nymboida and Mann rivers, 4WD into the wilderness, and camp in pristine bushland. You’ll be rewarded with views of the dramatic rock formations, excellent birdwatching opportunities, challenging white-waters, and an unbeatable feeling of being a long way from day-to-day life.

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Getting There

Getting to Grafton is as much about the journey as the destination. Enjoy the 6.5hr drive north from Sydney or 3.5hr drive south from Brisbane, lingering at charming country and coastal towns en route. By train or bus, your route from Sydney takes around 10 hours. You can also fly into Clarence Valley Regional Airport and hire a car to explore the region.