From the Newsroom

(L-R), Kellie-Anne Goodwin, Trinity Gutteridge, Amanda Daffey, and Eva Miller, are thrilled to be the 2022 Jacaranda candidates along with 2022 Matron of Honour Elect Gerelle Blanchard. Image: Adam Hourigan Photography

A blossoming start to their Jacaranda journey

Emma Pritchard


Say hello to Kellie-Anne Goodwin, Trinity Gutteridge, Amanda Daffey, and Eva Miller, as they proudly introduce themselves as the 2022 Jacaranda candidates.

These four lovely ladies are excitedly looking forward to the amazing year ahead as they begin a time-honoured journey which has been an integral part of Grafton’s history for close to 90 years.

They are honoured to represent the Clarence Valley community as inspirational ambassadors as they work together to celebrate and promote one of the country’s most famed regional events, which in 2022, has been opened to all gender identities for the first time in its 88-year history.

Gerelle Blanchard is also proud to officially introduce herself as the 2022 Matron of Honour Elect.

There are also a wonderful group of young ladies who are looking forward to introducing themselves as the 2022 Junior Jacaranda candidates.

Please keep a watchful eye for their smiling faces in an upcoming edition of the Clarence Valley Independent.

The 2022 Grafton Jacaranda Festival will be held between October 28 and November 6.


2022 Jacaranda candidates

Kellie-Anne Goodwin


30-year-old Kellie-Anne Goodwin has lived in the Clarence Valley her whole life.

She loves the close proximity of Grafton to local beaches and national parks, and she loves visiting the little villages throughout the region.

“Growing up in a small country town, I know many people who greet me by name, and this gives me a feeling of belonging and being home,” she said.

I am a member of Sprung Integrated Dance Theatre and I love to perform, whether it is acting, singing or spoken word, I love to be on stage.

“I like to cook and create art and crafts, I have pets at home, and I also love being an auntie to my darling nieces and nephews.

I wanted to have a job, but it’s not easy to work with a disability, and running as a Jacaranda candidate gives me an opportunity to give something back to my community and to connect with people.

“I love the Jacaranda Festival and have been attending all my life.

“I really want to get an all-abilities disco happening in Grafton, to meet new friends, and hopefully leave a legacy.

“I absolutely loved Jacaranda Thursday as a kid, getting time off school, going to the markets, and seeing all the local shops and staff giving performances.

“I also really love the crowning as it is so beautiful and lovely for our community.” 

Ms Goodwin will assume the title of Queen if she receives the honour of being crowned and said it would mean a lot to her to be the first Queen with a disability.

“I would really love to encourage all people to get involved,” she said.

“To be Queen would be a great example for others, and as a disabled person, I would be bringing my support workers along as well.”

Ms Goodwin is proudly sponsored by Pivotal Support Coordination.


Eva Miller

22-year-old Eva Miller was born and raised in the Clarence Valley and nominated as a Jacaranda candidate after identifying it as a chance to connect with people, to give something back to her beautiful community, to step outside of her comfort zone, and to do things she never thought she would do.

“And maybe learn a thing or two about myself along the way,” she added.  

“It would be such a privilege to be chosen as Jacaranda Queen.

“I’d be proud to be able to uphold the legacy of past Queens while endeavoring to make the Jacaranda Festival inclusive for everyone.”

Ms Miller has always loved the Venetian Carnival, describing it as a wonderful night for the whole community to come together and showcase their amazing talents. 

In her spare time, Ms Miller said she can usually be found at a theatre either performing onstage or as a member of the audience.

“I also enjoy playing my guitar and a good cup of tea,” she said.

Ms Miller is proudly sponsored by The Pelican Playhouse


Amanda Daffey

Describing the community spirit of the Clarence Valley as “something you don’t get in other places,” 24-year-old Amanda Daffey said the meaningful conversations you can have when you go shopping, to the gym, or to an event, are some of her favourite things about living in the region.

“These aspects make the Clarence Valley a wonderful place to raise children, and this is something important to me as a parent,” she said.

Ms Daffey loves the community spirit which embraces the Jacaranda Festival and being a part of the excitement is one of the reasons behind her nomination as a candidate in 2022.

“Another big reason why I decided to be a part of the festival this year is the decision to be more inclusive for the LGBTIQ+ community,” she said.

“It’s very important to me.

“Not only do I identify as a member of the community, I work with young people who identify and see their struggles with parts of the community.

“I have also just completed my Bachelor of Nursing and am looking at returning to studying as I am missing it already.

“I also have a couple of side hustle jobs.

“I work for myself providing disability support work and cleaning.”

When she isn’t working, Ms Daffey enjoys spending time with her family, going to community sports events, and going out for bike rides.

She also enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to the gym, and watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Ms Daffey loves Jacaranda Thursday and has many special memories of the occasion as a teenager, and more recently, with her young son.

If she receives the honour of being crowned this year, Ms Daffey would like to be called an Ambassador.

“I am here for the experience and the community spirit,” she said.

“Being the Ambassador would mean that I can carry that spirit into the next year and show the next group of candidates that the journey is something worth focusing on.”

Ms Daffey is proudly sponsored by the New School of Arts Neighbourhood House.


Trinity Gutteridge

Born in the Clarence Valley, Trinity Gutteridge has lived in the region “on and off” throughout her life.

The 18-year-old loves the history of the Jacaranda Festival, and always attended the event as a child.

“I remember looking at the photos of Queens from years past on the wall in the ice cream shop, and dreaming of one day getting to be one, and be part of the history,” she said.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to really grow as a person, both my public speaking ability and professionalism as far as event organising goes and working with businesses to support an idea.

“I hope to improve my confidence through meeting new people, and hopefully make new friends along the way.

“I’m excited to be able to promote this incredible town and the amazing festival that brings so much joy, new people to the town, and tourism and business for the local economy.”

Ms Gutteridge said Grafton is home to many friendly and welcoming residents.

“No matter who you are, people will welcome you down the streets with smiles and hellos, a chat if you’re keen, or even a laugh while waiting for your coffee order, and I love the feeling of acceptance that brings,” she said.

“One of my favourite parts of the Jacaranda Festival is the parade and seeing everyone come together and line the streets.

“It feels like the part of the festival where everything comes together.”

Ms Gutteridge said it would mean so much to her to be crowned in 2022.

“My childhood goals would be accomplished, I will be able to further help the community and bring people to this wonderful town, be able to represent one of the most brilliant and oldest floral festivals, and it will be an extraordinary boost to my confidence,” she said.

“As well as making everyone, including all our Jacaranda candidate directors, committee and my sponsors proud, most importantly, it will show my gorgeous nieces and nephews, and all the kids out there, that no matter who you are or how crazy your life has been, you can truly accomplish anything if you really put your mind to it.”

Ms Gutteridge enjoys being creative and doing art of all kinds including macrame, crocheting, and painting.

She is also an avid reader and loves spending time with her family and friends.

“Those are the people that truly make me not only who I am but happy and therefore I enjoy spending as much of my spare time with them as possible,” she said.

Ms Gutteridge is proudly sponsored by L.V. Hair.


2022 Matron of Honour Elect

Gerelle Blanchard

Adam Hourigan Photography

Grafton local Gerelle Blanchard is excited to be the 2022 Matron of Honour Elect, and said she has “big shoes to fill” following on from 2021 Matron of Honour Enid McKew.

Describing the Jacaranda Festival as a wonderful community event which brings everyone together, she said it is extraordinary to see the vibrance which embraces Grafton every year when the trees turn a brilliant shade of purple.

Mrs Blanchard has been a member of the Jacaranda Festival Committee for two years and was previously a Jacaranda Queen candidate.

She said the Jacaranda Ball is her favourite event to attend during the festival, and she is expecting another large crowd to come together to celebrate the occasion in 2022.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to get dressed up and enjoy an evening out with friends and family,” she said.

“Everybody has so much fun.

“We’re very blessed in Grafton to have a great community event such as the Jacaranda Festival which has such a proud history, and it’s so strongly supported each year.”

Mrs Blanchard is looking forward to spending time with the Jacaranda and Junior Jacaranda candidates this year and getting to know them as they commence their 2022 Jacaranda journey together.

“It’s going to be wonderful,” she said.