We always knew that we wanted to go to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland but how should we get there? By air or by car? We finally decided to take the long drive up north so that meant a stop over around the half-way mark. We chose the small town of Grafton.
The town of Grafton sits on the banks of the Clarence river, more than 620km from where we live. It takes well over 7 hours to drive there when you factor in the recommended (and much needed) rest stops and food breaks. So we set off first thing in the morning so as to arrive when there was still a few hours of daylight.
En-route we stopped in Kempsey (just north of Port Macquarie) for a break. This is a place worth a closer look at some point. Famous for being the home of legendary Aussie country singer Slim Dusty and the now Aussie classic, the Akubra hat, which is manufactured in south Kempsey.
The town of Grafton is in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales and grew up in the late 1830s around the so called “red gold” rush – the logging of the large cedar trees in the area. Nowadays the main industries are logging, farming and tourism. At that time the only way to cross the wide Clarence river was by ferry and so two separate towns formed – the main town (north) and South Grafton. Once the railway spanned the river in 1932 the two more or less became one.
The population of Grafton is just under 20,000 and the town seems to be doing well with many businesses and places to eat and drink. There are also some excellent examples of well-preserved buildings. And yes; there is an old Gaol in Grafton (see above) but although it is a very well preserved building it is not open as a tourist attraction. Instead it has been taken over by businesses. Just as well perhaps as even I am feeling “gaoled out”…
The town is famous for its Jacaranda tree lined streets although only a few were in bloom when we were there.
The following morning we once again headed off early with another long and scenic drive across the border and via Brisbane. More to come…