10 great events that put Clarence Valley on the map
THE Clarence Valley must be resourceful in the coming years to be prepared for when the Pacific Highway Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade is completed.
Expected to be finished by 2020, there are fears tourist numbers will drop off as travellers miss popular hot spots off the highway.
However, with adequate marketing campaigns and highway signage, local tourist operators and authorities should instead use it as an opportunity to boost tourist numbers by promoting their local hotspots and major events.
Here is a list of ten of the biggest major events in the Clarence Valley capable of capturing the attention of travellers.
1. Maclean Highland Gathering (Mar 25-26): The Lower Clarence Scottish Association's annual gathering features pipe bands, drummers, dancers and of course the Highland Games, celebrating its proud Scottish cultural heritage. Check out the event website.
2. Plunge - Art and Culture Festival (Mar 26-Apr 26): A month-long celebration showcasing the Clarence Valley's diverse culture with more than 100 events including music, dance, theatre, exhibitions, workshops and markets. Event guide is now available.
3. Maclean Agricultural Show (Apr 12-13): The Maclean Show Society has played an integral part in the Lower Clarence region for the past 122 years. Originally formed to bring early settlers together to share knowledge about farming and show the district their achievements, the annual attraction allows exhibitors from all walks of life to display their talents. Visit the event website here.
4. Grafton Show (Apr 15-16): Promoted as Grafton's number one family event, the Grafton Show celebrates its 150th Anniversary in 2016. The Grafton Show features plenty of events including woodchopping, a demolition derby, freestyle motorcycles, working dogs, show jumping, pavilions and of course rides and fireworks.
5. July Racing Carnival (July 7-17): One of the premier country horse racing events in Australia, the July Racing Carnival attracts the biggest trainers, owners and jockeys - Gai Waterhouse won the Grafton Cup in 2015 with Bonfire. It's not uncommon to spot celebrities in the crowd either - last year Tony Abbott and Socceroos goalkeeper Matt Ryan both turned up for a flutter. The Clarence River Jockey Club has hosted the event since the 1860s.
6. Grafton Bridge to Bridge Ski Race (Oct 1-2): One of the top ski races on the east coast calendar, the Grafton Bridge to Bridge sees competitors start and finish in Grafton, with speed boats reaching up to 180kph along the wide stretches of the Clarence River before turning around at Harwood Bridge. A boat called Superman has won the event multiple times in recent years. Click here for more information.
7. National Goanna Pulling Championships (Oct 2): A chiropractor's dream, the Australian National Goanna Pulling Championships are held in the coastal hamlet of Wooli each year. While there's not exactly a national circuit for this little known sport, some of the top competitors take it very seriously. Event website.
8. Surfing The Coldstream Festival (October): A one-day festival in Yamba comprising two stages plus street theatre and busking featuring dozens of local and national touring acts. The festival kicks off at 9am with entertaineers in the Yamba CBD and from midday onwards the action moves up the hill to Flinders Park. Follow the link for more information
9. Jacaranda Festival (Oct 29-Nov 6): Grafton's most famous festival was inaugurated in 1934 and celebrates the spectacle of the hundreds of lilac-blossomed trees that grow in Grafton's broad tree-lined avenues and come into bloom in October. Henry Volkers introduced the first Jacaranda trees, which are native to Brazil. Events within the Jacaranda Festival include the Jacaranda Ball, Venetian Carnival, Float Procession and Queen Crowning.
10. Head of the Clarence River Regatta (November): The Clarence River has a rich, proud rowing history and the Grafton Rowing Club resides on one of the most ideal stretches of water for rowing. It's here in Grafton that students from the most prestigious schools in Brisbane and Sydney converge each year for the Head of the Clarence River Regatta.
Which of our top ten Clarence Valley events is the best advertisement for the region?
This poll ended on 31 December 2016.
Maclean Highland Gathering
Plunge - Art and Culture Festival
Maclean Agricultural Show
July Racing Carnival
Grafton Bridge to Bridge Ski Race
National Goanna Pulling Championships
Surfing The Coldstream Festival
Head of the Clarence Rowing Regatta
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.