Grafton Senior Citizens recently held a day bus trip to Yamba, then a luncheon river cruise to Harwood bridge and return, with 51 passengers, on a mild spring day.
Although the trip was first planned about September 2018, when it was learned of the 53 Islands Festival, and our plans fitted their criteria, we expanded our trip to visit, view, or mention as many islands as possible.
After first viewing well known Susan Is, with its rainforest and fruit bat colony, mention was made of nearby Carrs Is, a farming area accessible by a concrete bridge and bitumen road form Fry Street. Then mention of lesser known Elizabeth Is, formerly a farm, opposite Corcoran Park.
After travelling north, we visited Harwood Is, with the oldest sugar mill in Australia, then Chatsworth Is, from which we could see Warregah Is, the southern tip of which is crossed to access Ashby, and nearby Ashby Is.
After making a short visit to Goodwood Is, where there is a wharf for visiting ships, we adjourned to a park at Woombah for our picnic morning tea.
From here it was on to Yamba, crossing three more islands, Palmers, Romiaka, and the northern tip of Micalo.
We then joined the ferry for a relaxing luncheon cruise to Harwood bridge and return, with an opportunity for a different view of the new bridge.
On the cruise, we passed six more islands, Dart, Pelican, Rabbit, Freeburn, Gourd, Turkey, as well as some we had seen from coach. We also saw a prawn farm and recently planted macadamia plantations.
On the return to Yamba, we made a brief visit to the picnic area of Hickey Is, technically no longer an island, as development has joined it to mainland.
During our journey back to Maclean, we saw Ulagundi Is, a former aboriginal settlement, near Harwood.
We then crossed McFarlane Bridge onto Woodford Is, largest of Clarence River islands, some say the largest river island in the southern hemisphere, and the only one with a mountain range. It is also where Small family and other cedar getters settled as the first white settlement along the Clarence.
We travelled South Arm Road, and had we travelled other side (a load limit prevents this), we would have seen Munro Is, a former sand spit near Lawrence, and Hielaman Is, a farm near Southgate.
In all, we visited or observed a total of 20 of the supposed 100 islands in the Clarence, which starts near the Queensland border, north of Bonalbo, and has 24 tributaries, 11 bridge crossings and two ferry crossings.
Thanks to coach captain, Alan R, for a great trip, committee for serving morning tea, other members for organising trip, to ferry operators for great boat trip, and to 53 Islands Festival organisors for including us and giving us publicity.
Our next day trip (the final for the year) is our picnic to Mylestom on November 22, and it still has spare seats.
Plans for 2020 trips include an open garden near Bangalow, and a visit to Ballina Maritime Museum in February; a visit to mine museum and old mine at Emmaville, near Glen Innes in March, and an eight day tour to include Moree, St George, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Roma, Miles, Dalby, Toowoomba in August.
Enquiries concerning future trips, activities, and membership can be made with publicity officer Sandra on 6642 7720