Things to do in Grafton
Grafton, with its tree-lined streets is one of Australia’s most beautiful rural cities. It is renowned for its Jacaranda trees, graceful old buildings, sporting and cultural facilities, and its location on the banks of the Clarence River.
During spring Grafton bursts into colour with brilliant shades of purple jacaranda and red flame tree blossoms. Walk down the wide, tree-lined streets and view manicured gardens as well as the grand old architecture, visit museums and the dynamic Grafton Regional Art Gallery.
All year round, Grafton’s location on a major river ensures there are plentiful water sport activities such as rowing, boating and water skiing - though you can also book a river cruise or hire a houseboat.
Where is it and how do you get there?
The City of Grafton is located on the northern coastal plains of NSW, on the Clarence River, 660 kilometres north of Sydney.
The Grafton, Casino and Brisbane XPT trains each run daily from Sydney and stop at Grafton.
To check times, use the booking form on the left.
The Clarence Valley public bus service covers Grafton, Ulmarra, Maclean, Yamba and Iluka. There is also a bus tour operator, car hire companies, taxis and a ferry service between Yamba and Iluka.
What to do and see
The majestic Clarence River is a major feature in Grafton’s landscape and lifestyle. Enjoy the river at a leisurely pace on a hire boat or canoe, or view the river from above as you use the pedestrian foot-bridge to cross the famous Bendy Bridge, an engineering marvel built in 1932. Fishing enthusiasts will also delight in the fishing opportunities that abound in the river.
Take a heritage walk around the Grafton town centre where many buildings have been classified by the National Trust, including the Christ Church Cathedral, the infamous Grafton Gaol and some fine historic homes. South Grafton is also definitely worth a visit. It has some remarkable buildings including St Matthew's Anglican Church, built in 1886, which boasts stained-glass windows from the English chapel of the Duke of Grafton, after whom the town is named.
Continue your exploration of Grafton’s rich history through one of the many museums open to the public. The Schaeffer House Museum exhibits historical treasures in a glorious century old homestead and hosts the largest public display of Wedgwood china in New South Wales with over 150 pieces. The Alumny Creek School Museum set in beautiful grounds, is a lovingly restored school that recreates a slice of 19th century life with old pieces of equipment, school records and memorabilia.
Visit the Grafton Regional Art Gallery which is Clarence Valley’s premier visual arts centre. The gallery, with a permanent collection of over 1300 vibrant works, has the largest collection of artworks on the North Coast of New south Wales and also presents over 40 exhibitions each year.
Take a fascinating trip to Susan Island, which is adjacent to Grafton’s main street and memorial park. The northern end, covered by rainforest, has the largest fruit bat colony in the southern hemisphere. The colony is an amazing phenomenon to watch as it departs in search for food at dusk.
For keen horse racing enthusiasts, Grafton is the perfect holiday destination. Known by some as the capital of horse racing in Australia after Melbourne, Grafton City holds numerous race meets each year. Attend an exciting race meet or carnival to watch the horses and the fashions.
Hop on a bus tour or hire a rental car and there are a large variety of sights to be seen just outside Grafton. Travel just 12 kilometres north to Ulmarra, a village classified by the National Trust and boasting a number of craft, bric-a-brac and antique shops. The journey forty kilometres south west from Grafton to Nymboida is also worth while. Nymboida boasts stunning mountain bush, magnificent waterways with whitewater canoeing and an abundance of wildlife. It is also home to the Museum of Interesting Things which has a wide range of exhibits ranging from motorcycles and race cars to original movie props and costumes donated by Russell Crowe from many of his films.
Grafton is the entry to the pristine beaches and lagoons of Yuraygir National Park and the fishing ports of Iluka and Yamba. Enjoy an old style passenger ferry cruise from Yamba to Iluka, wander around the historical architecture and enjoy the beauty of the region’s national parks.