Jump to content

Grafton, New South Wales

Coordinates: 29°41′0″S 152°56′0″E / 29.68333°S 152.93333°E / -29.68333; 152.93333
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Grafton, Australia)

New South Wales
Grafton Bridge
Old Grafton Court House
Grafton Gaol
Clarence River and countryside
Grafton Post Office
Market Square
Christ Church Cathedral
(From left to right)
Grafton Bridge from North Bank
Grafton Court House, Grafton Gaol
Clarence River, Grafton Post Office
Market Square, Christ Church Cathedral
Grafton is located in New South Wales
Coordinates29°41′0″S 152°56′0″E / 29.68333°S 152.93333°E / -29.68333; 152.93333
Population19,255 (2021)[1]
Elevation5 m (16 ft)
LGA(s)Clarence Valley Council
RegionNorthern Rivers
State electorate(s)Clarence
Federal division(s)Page
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
25.8 °C
78 °F
12.8 °C
55 °F
1,175.2 mm
46.3 in

Grafton (Bundjalung-Yugambeh: Gumbin Gir)[2] is a city[3] in the Northern Rivers region of the Australian state of New South Wales. It is located on the Clarence River, on a floodplain, approximately 608 kilometres (378 mi) by road north-northeast of the state capital Sydney.

The closest major cities, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, are located across the border in South East Queensland. At the 2021 census, Grafton had a population of 19,255.[1] The city is the largest settlement and, with Maclean, the shared administrative centre of the Clarence Valley Council local government area, which is home to over 50,000 people in all.



Before European settlement, the Clarence River marked the border between the Bundjalung[4] and Gumbaynggirr peoples, and so descendants of the speakers of both language-groups can now be found in the Grafton region.

Grafton, like many other settlements in the area, was first opened up to European settlement by the cedar-getters. An escaped convict, Richard Craig, explored the district in 1831.[5] With the wealth of "red gold" cedar just waiting for exploitation, he was given a pardon and one hundred pounds to bring a party of cedar-getters on the cutter Prince George to the region. Word of such wealth to be had did not take long to spread. One of the arrivals on the Susan in 1838, pioneer John Small, first occupied land on Woodford Island. 'The Settlement' (as the embryonic Grafton was then imaginatively named) was established shortly after.

The Grafton Bridge over the Clarence River showing the bascule span lifted to let shipping through. (Postcard from about 1932; the Southern Cross aeroplane has been added to the photograph.)

In 1851 Governor FitzRoy officially named the town Grafton, after his grandfather, the Duke of Grafton, who had served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1768 to 1770.[6] Grafton was proclaimed a city in 1885. Local industries include logging, beef cattle, fishing/prawning, sugar, manufacturing and tourism.

The Grafton Bridge, connecting the main townsite with South Grafton, opened in 1932. It completed the standard-gauge rail connection between Sydney and Brisbane, also forming a vital link for the Pacific Highway. Previously the only way to travel from Grafton to South Grafton was via ferry. As a result, South Grafton developed quite a separate identity, and in fact had its own municipal government from 1896 to 1956.

The introduction of fluoride to the town water supply in 1964 was accompanied by protest which became physical. The fluoride plant was blown up the night before commencement, the dentist supporting fluoridation received bomb threats against his family and later pro- and anti-fluoridation float participants at the annual Jacaranda Festival came to blows and a gun was produced.[7][8]: 03:39 

Heritage listings


Grafton has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


Historical population
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics data.[14][15]
The Anglican Christ Church Cathedral

At the 2021 census, Grafton had a population of 19,255.[1]

According to the Census:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 10.4% of Grafton's population.
  • 87.1% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 1.4% and New Zealand 0.7%.
  • 90.5% of people spoke only English at home.
  • The most common responses for religion were No Religion 37.8%, Anglican 20.9%, and Catholic 18.2%.[1]



Grafton has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa, Trewartha: Cfal) with significantly more rainfall in summer than in winter. Rainfall is lower than in stations directly on the coast, but monthly rain totals can often surpass 300 millimetres (12 in). The wettest month since records began was March 1974 when Cyclone Zoe produced a monthly total of 549.0 millimetres (21.61 in),[citation needed] whilst during periods of anticyclonic control and strong westerly winds monthly rainfall can be very low; for instance in August 2017 only 0.2 millimetres (0.01 in) fell. Grafton gets around 115.2 clear days on an annual basis.

Grafton like many NSW regional centres, is affected by heatwaves in the summer months. On 12 February 2017 Grafton recorded a maximum temperature of 46.3 °C (115.3 °F), the city's highest recorded temperature since records began in 1966.[16] Winter has a relatively high diurnal range.

Climate data for Grafton Airport AWS (2006–2022)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 41.3
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 30.3
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 19.0
Record low °C (°F) 10.8
Average rainfall mm (inches) 122.4
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.4 10.9 11.2 8.0 7.5 5.8 4.6 4.3 5.2 7.2 9.2 10.2 94.5
Average afternoon relative humidity (%) 56 60 59 57 57 54 49 43 44 49 52 54 53
Average dew point °C (°F) 19.0
Source 1: Bureau of Meteorology[17]
Source 2: Bureau of Meteorology (Humidity from Grafton Olympic Pool, 1976–2010)[18]


A Jacaranda lined street in the suburbs of Grafton

Grafton is known and promoted as the Jacaranda City, in reference to its tree-lined streets and to the annual Jacaranda Festival. Inaugurated in 1935, Jacaranda is held each October/November. A half-day public holiday is observed locally on the first Thursday of November, the Festival's major focal day. During the 1963 festival, inventor John W. Dickenson demonstrated on the Clarence River the first hang glider that was controlled by weight shifts of the pilot from a swinging control frame – the birth of modern hang gliding.[19]

A half-day public holiday is also observed for the Grafton Cup horse race, held each year on the second Thursday in July. It is the high point of the city's annual Racing Carnival—Australia's largest and richest non-metropolitan Carnival—which takes place over a fortnight in that month.

The Saraton Theatre

Grafton is the birthplace of several renowned country music players. Local artist Troy Cassar-Daley received four Golden Guitar awards at the 2006 Tamworth Country Music Awards—the largest and most prestigious country music awards in Australia. At the same event Samantha McClymont, the 2005/2006 Grafton Jacaranda Queen and sister of Brooke McClymont, also received an award for her country music talent.

A vision of Grafton with its numerous brilliantly-flowered trees in bloom is immortalised in Australian popular music in Cold Chisel's song Flame Trees, written by band member Don Walker, who had lived in Grafton during his formative years.



The most popular sport in Grafton is Rugby league. There are two clubs from Grafton in the Group 2 Rugby League competition; the Grafton Ghosts and their arch-rival South Grafton Rebels. The two clubs each have a rich history, and derbies between the clubs have been known to draw attendances in excess of 3000 people.

Other sports such as soccer, Rugby union, Australian rules and Field Hockey are also played in Grafton.

Notable buildings

The Grafton Post Office

Christ Church Cathedral, designed by John Horbury Hunt, was consecrated in 1884 and is the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton.[20]

Schaeffer House is a historic 1900 Federation house and contains the collection of the Clarence River Historical Society, which was formed in 1931.[21]


Grafton Bridge across the Clarence River

The Murwillumbah railway line was extended to Grafton in 1905;[22] The North Coast Line reached South Grafton's railway station from Sydney in 1915. Pending the opening of the combined road and rail bascule bridge in 1932, Grafton had a train ferry to connect the two railways. Clarence Valley Regional Airport is the airport that services Grafton.

Until bypassed in May 2020, the Pacific Highway, the main North–South road route through Eastern Australia, passed through Grafton and linked it to the Gwydir Highway, one of the primary east–west routes through Eastern Australia.[23]

Busways is the operator for local routes, as well as out-of-town routes to Junction Hill, Jackadgery/Cangai, Copmanhurst, and Maclean and Yamba.

Lawrence Bus Service operates a shopper service, as well as school service on school days, to and from Lawrence.

Northern Rivers Buslines operates a weekday service to Lismore via Maclean, Evans Head and Coraki.

NSW TrainLink operates a coach service to Byron Bay, connecting off the train from Sydney. It also offers a coach service to Moree via Glen Innes, connecting from the train from Brisbane.[24]

Various former and current commercial/retail buildings line Prince Street



From 1904 to 1917 the Grafton Copper Mining Company operated a copper mine, smelter and tramway at Cangai,[25] more than 100 km from Grafton via the Clarence and Mann rivers, today about 70 km over the Gwydir Highway. From 1952 to 1997, first as an independent company, then owned by Tooheys since 1961, the Grafton brewery provided Grafton Bitter to the North Coast.[26] The nearby Harwood Mill is the oldest working sugar mill in New South Wales.



The daily online-only newspaper of Grafton is The Daily Examiner, owned by News Corp Australia.[27]

Radio and television


Radio stations


Television channels


Pay television services are provided by Foxtel.

Of the three main networks, NBN produces an evening news bulletin containing regional, national and international news, screening every night at 6:00pm on Channel 9. Seven News produces a mid north coast news bulletin screening weeknights at 6:00pm. WIN Television's WIN News produces news updates throughout the day, broadcast from the Wollongong studios.


The former St Mary's College
St Mary's College cathedral

Public schools


Independent schools

  • Clarence Valley Anglican School (formerly The Cathedral School)[28]
  • McAuley Catholic College
  • St. Joseph's Primary School
  • St. Mary's Primary School
  • St. Andrew's Christian School

Defunct public schools


A large number of small (mostly one-teacher) public schools existed in the Grafton and Clarence Valley areas in the past. These schools have included:

  • Alumny Creek 1872–1969[29]
  • Angowrie 1895–1899
  • Billys Creek 1946–1963
  • Calliope 1890–1983
  • Carr's Creek 1877–1964
  • Clouds Creek 1943–1964
  • Coalcroft 1875–1971 (originally known as Coaldale till 1912)
  • Coldstream Lower 1873–1966
  • Eatonsville 1881–1961
  • Glenferneigh 1928–1967
  • Kungala 1926–1977
  • Lawrence Lower 1883–1955
  • Mororo 1886–1939
  • Palmers Channel 1869–1975 (originally known as Taloumbi till 1907)
  • Seelands 1889–1967
  • Shark Creek 1877–1927
  • Smalls Forest 1885–1971
  • South Arm 1871–1967
  • Southgate 1867–1875
  • Stockyard Creek 1882–1895
  • Swan Creek 1870–1994
  • Trenayr 1901–1970 (originally known as Milers Waterholes till 1912)
  • Tullymorgan 1886–1971 (originally known as Cormicks Creek till 1911)
  • Tyndale 1868–1975
  • Ulgundah Island Aboriginal 1908–1951 (near Maclean)
  • Woodford Leigh 1869–1956
  • Woombah 1872–1953

Military history


During World War II, Grafton was the location of RAAF No.6 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot (IAFD), completed in 1942 and closed on 29 August 1944. Usually consisting of 4 tanks, 31 fuel depots were built across Australia for the storage and supply of aircraft fuel for the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Army Air Forces at a total cost of £900,000 ($1,800,000).[30]

Notable people


Notable people who were born or lived in Grafton include:


  1. ^ a b c d Australian Bureau of Statistics (28 June 2022). "Grafton". 2021 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 16 October 2022. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ "Search word: Grafton". Yugambeh-Bundjalung Dictionary.
  3. ^ "Grafton". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 5 October 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ Tindale, Norman (1974) "Badjalang" in his Catalogue of Australian Aboriginal Tribes. South Australian Museum Archived 2010-04-06 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Kathleen Simpson (1984). "The story of Richard Craig". Manuscripts Leaf Catalogue No. 1 (5-552 C). State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "The romance of Australian place names". The Australian Women's Weekly. 27 May 1964. p. 59. Retrieved 14 October 2013 – via Trove.
  7. ^ "Bombs, brawls and bloodshed: The fight against fluoride in Grafton". ABC News. 31 July 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Something in the water – the bitter struggle over fluoride in Australia". Radio National. 17 July 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  9. ^ "Cathedral Church of Christ the King (inc. hall and cottages)". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01654. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  10. ^ "Grafton Correctional Centre". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H00809. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  11. ^ "Grafton rail and road bridge over Clarence River". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01036. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  12. ^ "Saraton Theatre". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01401. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  13. ^ "Arcola – house, stables, garden, fence". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H00714. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  14. ^ "Statistics by Catalogue Number". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  15. ^ "Search Census data". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  16. ^ "Weather News – Over 40 Temperature Records Broken over the Weekend". www.farmonlineweather.com.au. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  17. ^ "Climate statistics for Grafton". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  18. ^ "Climate statistics for Grafton". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  19. ^ "How Grafton's hang gliding pioneers made aviation history" by Catherine Marciniak, ABC North Coast, 9 September 2018
  20. ^ Diocese of Grafton. "Grafton Cathedral". Retrieved 19 May 2006.
  21. ^ About Us, Clarence River Historical Society
  22. ^ Grafton—Rail Centre of the Clarence for 100 Years Australian Railway History issue 817, November 2005, pp. 443–463
  23. ^ Grafton bypass to open in May NBN News 18 April 2020
  24. ^ North Coast timetable NSW TrainLink
  25. ^ "Assessment of Mineral Resources in the Upper North East CRA Study Area: A project undertaken as part of the NSW Comprehensive Regional Assessments November 1999". November 1999, New South Wales Government & Commonwealth Government. Retrieved on 6 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Grafton fought hard to get a brewery" by Lachlan Thompson, The Daily Examiner, 29 October 2012
  27. ^ "Future is digital: News announces major changes". The Courier-Mail. 28 May 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  28. ^ "History of the Cathedral and the Close". Christ Church Cathedral Grafton. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  29. ^ Alumny Creek Public School 125th Anniversary 1872–1997
  30. ^ Australia. Royal Australian Air Force. Historical Section (1995), Logistics units, AGPS Press, ISBN 978-0-644-42798-2
  31. ^ Cliff Turney (1981). "Cohen, Fanny (1887–1975)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 8. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943.
  32. ^ Colless, Matthew; Bhathal, Ragbir Singh (21 March 2018). "Matthew Colless interviewed by Ragbir Bhathal in the Australian astronomers oral history project". Retrieved 21 March 2018 – via Trove.
  33. ^ "Professor Matthew Colless".
  34. ^ "Ryan Maskelyne". Tokyo 2020. Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  35. ^ McCarthy, Perditta M. (1988). "Mary Anne (Bessie) Pocock (1863–1946)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 11. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943.
  36. ^ "Grafton Chinese Who Led the revolution", The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 September 1932, via Trove