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River magic besots Clarence cruisers

Geoff Helisma

Thirty-seven members of the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club (SICYC) recently spent six days cruising the Clarence River … and it was an experience they intend to share.

“All boaties said they will return and spend more time on the Clarence,” says sojourn organizer Glad Smith, “and to tell their friends about the best-kept secret on the east coast.”

While numbers were down compared to previous years, due to covid and some unfavorable weather patterns on Australia’s eastern seaboard, SICYC members (known as ‘shaggers’) attended various locations and functions.

“Six vessels were from other regions and all heading north for warmer weather and, hopefully, attend the annual rendezvous at Shag Islet (north of the Whitsundays) in late August,” says Glad.

“Those that had never sailed the Clarence were amazed at the facilities, towns and the beauty from Iluka/Yamba to Grafton.”

Glad says the ceremony at McLachlan Park, Maclean, complete with Scottish piper and a welcoming committee, which included local Yaegl elders and youths, and the mayor, Jim Simmons, was a memorable start to the group’s week on the water.

“They enjoyed the historical buildings, horses exercising in the river, Bill Kearns’ bush poetry, the local Macleles entertaining at the Harwood Hilton, the pontoons and BBQ facilities along the river and the friendly people,” says Glad.

And, while there were a lot of ‘fun and games’, there was a more serious side to the event, which included “four days of organised events to raise money for prostate cancer”.

“Maclean Rotary presented the SICYC with a donation of $50, Bundjalung Surf Shop gave $15 and extra loose shrapnel donated along the way amounted to $289 for prostate cancer,” Glad says.

“Peter and Ruth Reeve sold $763 of merchandise and a big percentage goes back to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA).”

Meanwhile, around “$8,500 went back into the local economy over the six days, with participants spending on fuel, food, stores, clothing and gifts”, Glad says.