The Fry Street section of the levee bank doing a remarkable job of protecting Grafton city's residential areas.
The Fry Street section of the levee bank doing a remarkable job of protecting Grafton city's residential areas.

10 things Grafton City got right

IT'S TIME to accentuate the positive and look at things Grafton City got right. This list is by no means definitive nor based on any real expertise but hey there's nothing wrong with making a observations about the place you have lived in most of your life. Agree or disagree feel free to add or defend in the comments section below:

1. Built a levee wall.

It has saved a lot of heartache for a city built on a flood plain. The engineering feat was a long time coming about a century all up to complete from go to woe but this benchmark piece of infrastructure has been doing a stellar job since it was completed in the late 1960s protecting its some 10,000 Grafton City residents and their homes and businesses.  

2. Wide streets.

Having these generous proportions through the CBD and a lot of residential areas means you can walk your dog or go for a jog around town without fear of being blasted by a car horn or run down. It also provides generous amount of air space above which is luxury often taken for granted. Wide, flat streets means the city is generally bike friendly yet you are lucky to see them being used as standard transport options. The new Festival of the Bike is hoping to encourage pedal power around Grafton. More bike racks in the CBD would be helpful.

3. Built a Cathedral.


The Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton is one of the city's most revered examples of architecture.
The Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton is one of the city's most revered examples of architecture. TristaHeilers

Even if you are a hard core atheist having a Horbury Hunt design on our patch is a real coup. While a lot of us pass by Christ Church Cathedral everyday without batting an eyelid, it still gets plenty of attention from visitors and lovers of architecture. Unusual modern American barn meets Arts and Craft is a refreshing take over the Gothic towers of England that many places of Christian worship opt for. It also gave Grafton its city status.

4. Planted street trees.

Whether native and ancient, or introduced like our famous purple ones that become rock stars a few weeks of the year, the presence of trees in Grafton is as dominant as the Clarence River that flows through it. The sheer size of some trees and the visual concentration they provide is a grand sight as you move around the place. You couldn't imagine Grafton City without them.

5. Preserved public and residential heritage buildings and streetscapes.


Saraton Theatre Cinema 2016
The beautifully restored Saraton Theatre is one of the city's few heritage-listed buildings. Adam Hourigan

Saraton Theatre phew. Original pubs, yes. Grand commercial buildings, tick. Our bendy bridge is unique. Tastefully restored private residences. It all up adds up and helps to detract from the bad patches of development around the city.

6. Early education.

Okay we're not so good at the tertiary end here but there are attempts being made to solve that through TAFE and country university centre plans but it is worth noting that Grafton punched above its weight historically (as far as infant/primary and secondary education goes) having inspired some of the finest minds in the fields of science and medicine including space physicist Doctor Elizabeth Essex Cohen, physicist Ruby Payne Scott, physician/educator Havelock Ellis, anatomist/Egyptologist Sir Grafton Elliot Smith, astronomer Professor Matthew Colless and trauma specialist Professor Len Notaras, the list goes on.  

7. Built sporting facilities.


The magnificent Grafton Racecourse is a major draw card and industry coup for the city.
The magnificent Grafton Racecourse is a major draw card and industry coup for the city. Bruce Thomas / Grafton Dailly Ex

Grafton is famous for producing some amazing sports people across many different disciplines which is down the fact the city boasts some pretty impressive sporting facilities. This includes a spectacular racecourse (and its lauded annual winter carnival), state-of-the-art hockey surfaces and tennis courts, football and cricket grounds, and speedway track. Having a glorious river system also means we have produced some awesome rowers like the legendary Henry Searle and underrated Cheryl Everson and sailors like Olympic medallist Andrew Landenberger.

8. Music and drama education.

The music/performing arts education has produced some big name in the Australian industry. From the private piano teachers who taught the like of Cold Chisel's Don Walker (who went on to write the lyrics to their classic anthem Flame Trees about Grafton), to the music teachers who inspired Troy Cassar Daley and The McClymonts, Grafton has its fair share of artistic educators. It's also where Dirtgirl, Scrapboy and comedian Zoe Coombs Marr cut their talented teeth before heading off to become famous across Australia and the globe thanks to local teachers and Grafton's music academy Sister Cecilia's (now the Clarence Valley Conservatorium).

9. Being old.

History is Grafton's ace card. It was the first city on the North Coast so it has a lot of stuff it can trade on purely because it has relics and stories other regional centres don't have. But we could do more to showcase this like extending our museum, restoring more buildings and continue to support its history through long-time events like Australia's oldest floral celebration in the Jacaranda Festival.

10. Rallied for a regional gallery.


Grafton Regional Gallery
The Grafton Regional Gallery is one of city's and the region's top people-built assets. Simon Hughes

Thanks to a few visionaries back in the 1980s and the support of the then city council the Grafton Regional Gallery has become a national treasure for the city and Clarence Valley. Not only does it support and champion the arts scene of the region it has also become a major tourist drawcard for an inland regional city. Through its collections it has become nationally recognised as having one of the country's best contemporary drawing collections through its Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award and its indigenous art and the promotion of it through its rare collection of Lindt photographs. It also brings blockbuster exhibitions like the Archibald to our doorstep and having a gallery patron like artist and celebrity Ken Done, who grew up in the Clarence, on board too doesn't hurt either.

  • Hope you enjoyed the Grafton City '10 things' countdown. There's more where that came from so stay tuned.