BACK IN TIME: The Jacaranda Festival in the 1950s.
BACK IN TIME: The Jacaranda Festival in the 1950s. Eric Nicholson

Covering the Clarence for 160 years of milestones

FOR 160 years, the highlights and lowlights of the Clarence Valley have been captured in the pages of The Daily Examiner.

Here are just some of the major milestones and community events, The Daily Examiner has played a part in bringing to the readers.

The Clarence River Jockey Club has become an iconic part of Grafton, synonymous with the annual July carnival.

The club will also this year celebrate its 160th anniversary as the first race meeting was officially held the same year The Clarence and Richmond Examiner started printing, and for well over a century the two stalwarts of the Clarence community have worked alongside each other.

Nita Childs from the Clarence River Historical Society said without The Daily Examiner, there wouldn't be a jockey club.

"They have both worked together right from way back in those times," she said.

Founder of the original The Clarence and Richmond Examiner, Clark Irving, was also the first chairman of the CRJC.


Saturday 23 July 1932
An extract from The Daily Examiner of the bridge opening ceremony, July 23, 1932. Contributed

To jump forward to 1932, the day Grafton bridge opened, the grand processions were documented and prompted a special feature in The Daily Examiner.

An article in the paper 10 years before the grand opening spoke of the Commonwealth Government's plans to open the rail bridge .

"The plans for the work are actually ready and the Government is dealing with the Commonwealth Government on the matter. The plans however are for a railway bridge only, and do not provide for any other class of traffic," the article read.

Now famous as the Jacaranda City known for the vibrant purple and reigning queens, the idea for a floral festival can be traced years earlier than when it came to fruition.

A keen tourist in 1932, had a bright idea to make Grafton an international sensation.

In a letter to the editor three years before the annual festival began, L S Cumming wrote he "was struck with the magnificent and unique display of jacaranda".

"I doubt if anything so fine could be seen in any other part of the world and from a tourist point of view, it should add thousands of pounds to the coffers of the business people of your beautiful town," the letter read.

"If it were made as widely known as it should be, it would bring sight-seers from all parts of Australia and probably from many other parts of the world as well."

Exciting developments and community are as essential in shaping the Valley as much as the horrific events that leave a scar.

October 20 this year will mark 30 years since one of Australia's worst road accidents at Cowper claimed the lives of 20 people.

The accident was a hallmark event which led to the huge changes in the Australian road safety, a catalyst to the Pacific Highway upgrade due to be completed next year.