Clarence News & Info

From the Newsroom

The river: “our greatest asset”

Geoff Helisma|

During consultation to develop the Clarence Valley Economic Development Strategic Plan (The Clarence Edge), Clarence Valley Council (CVC) staff noted that, “overwhelmingly, the one prominent issue at every focus group and community workshop was our river” – councillors are set to adopt The Clarence – River Way Masterplan II (CRW) at next week’s July 27 CVC meeting.

The original master plan was conceived in 2009, and the second, reviewed version builds upon CVC staff’s comment to councillors in the May business paper, when explaining what had prompted its development: “It is considered by many our greatest asset and we had turned our backs on it.

“The next logical step was to develop a plan focusing on the Clarence River.”

“…CRW has successfully secured over $15.3million in grant funding, with a matching contribution from council of just $1.9m,” staff write.

“…The Clarence River Way Masterplan has proven that proactive planning, backed by plenty of community input and consultation, is a winning combination.”

The draft Clarence – River Way Masterplan II “reviews the social and environmental factors that have changed over the past 10 years, both in the physical environment and to the people who live, work and visit the Clarence Valley region, … [and] provides an up-to-date strategic action plan to guide tourism investment in the region”, staff advise councillors in next week’s report to council.

Significantly, the draft “includes developing Grafton as a tourism destination and maximising opportunities for nature-based tourism from the Yuraygir and Bundjalung national parks to the western hinterland”.

An explanation of the draft master plan’s number one idea, among the “top 10 ideas of strategic intent”, puts it starkly when it comes to protecting the river: “The Clarence River is Australia’s second largest river after the Murray River.

“The scale of the Clarence River is unrivalled in the Northern Rivers.

“It is a highly valuable natural resource and represents a key competitive advantage.

“Its value and tourism potential is now being recognised, and development is once again turning to face the river.

“It is essential that this valuable resource be protected and managed well – without it, all the other initiatives will have limited relevance and beneficial impact.”

Meanwhile, when referring to the successes of the original CRW, staff write that it “has enabled council to achieve many infrastructure projects beyond its financial capacity, as well as focused the whole organisation on achieving these actions”.

“Taking this strategic approach has meant council has been able to capitalise on opportunities to leverage Australian and NSW funding,” staff advise.

Staff write that “a series of sub-plans or concept plans have been developed with further community consultation”, including: Clarence River Wharves Development Plan; Skinner Street Masterplan; South Grafton Plaza; Grafton Waterfront Precinct Plan; Maclean Riverside Precinct Plan; McLachlan Park Redevelopment; Ulmarra Riverside Precinct Plan, Corcoran Park Masterplan; and, Harwood Riverside & Village Precinct Plan.

The Clarence – River Way Masterplan II was placed on public exhibition for 28 days and hard copies were sent to Grafton Ngerrie Land Council and Yaegl Traditional Owners – ten submissions were received; no objections were received.



Clarence – River Way Masterplan II: top 10 ideas of strategic intent

  • Establish the Clarence River as one of the Nation’s great river experiences – Establish the Clarence River as the main driver of destination development;
  • Position Grafton as a river city hub – Capitalise on Grafton’s position at the heart of The Clarence touring region;
  • Enhance the lower reaches of the Clarence – Enhance the towns and their relationship to the river 4. Head upriver – Connect points of interest west and radiating from Grafton;
  • Link to the hinterland – Provide access to farmland, forestry and rural lifestyle;
  • Connect to the wilderness arc – Link the World Heritage rainforests to the Clarence;
  • Capitalise on Yamba and Iluka’s success – Reinforce these towns as the coastal access to The Clarence’;
  • Promote the Yuraygir and Bundjalung coast – Link the coastal national parks and marine park as integral to The Clarence experience.
  • Leverage the regional touring routes – Benefit from visitors using the Pacific Hwy, Gwydir Hwy and Summerland Way; and,
  • Promote The Clarence to complement nearby regions – Foster strong links to benefit from adjacent regions.