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Grafton, New South Wales facts for kids

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New South Wales
Grafton Bridge
Old Grafton Court House
Grafton Gaol
Clarence River and countryside
Grafton Post Office
Market Square
Christ Church Cathedral
(From left to right)
Grafton Bridge from North Bank
Grafton Court House, Grafton Gaol
Clarence River, Grafton Post Office
Market Square, Christ Church Cathedral
Grafton is located in New South Wales
Location in New South Wales
Population 19,078 (2018)
Established 1851
Postcode(s) 2460
Elevation 5 m (16 ft)
LGA(s) Clarence Valley Council
County Clarence
State electorate(s) Clarence
Federal Division(s) Page
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
25.8 °C
78 °F
12.7 °C
55 °F
992.3 mm
39.1 in

Grafton (Bundjalung-Yugambeh: Gumbin Gir) is a city in the Northern Rivers region of the Australian state of New South Wales. It is located on the Clarence River, approximately 608 kilometres (378 mi) by road north-northeast of the state capital Sydney. The closest major cities, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, are located across the border in South-East Queensland. In June 2018, Grafton had a population of 19,078. The city is the largest settlement and, with Maclean, the shared administrative centre of the Clarence Valley Council local government area, which is home to over 50,000 people in all.


Before European settlement, the Clarence River marked the border between the Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr peoples, and so descendants of both language groups can now be found in the Grafton region.

Grafton, like many other settlements in the area, was first opened up to white settlement by the cedar-getters. An escaped convict, Richard Craig, discovered the district in 1831. With the wealth of 'red gold' cedar just waiting for exploitation, he was given a pardon and one hundred pounds to bring a party of cedar-getters on the cutter 'Prince George' to the region. Word of such wealth to be had did not take long to spread and one of the arrivals was pioneer John Small on the 'Susan' in 1838, and he first occupied land on Woodford Island. 'The Settlement' (as the embryonic Grafton was then imaginatively named) was established shortly after.

In 1851, Governor FitzRoy officially named the town "Grafton", after his grandfather, the Duke of Grafton, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Grafton was proclaimed a city in 1885. Local industries include logging, beef cattle, fishing/prawning, sugar, manufacturing and tourism.

The town is also known for its double-decker road/railway bridge, opened in 1932, completing the standard gauge rail connection between Sydney and Brisbane, and also forming a vital link for the Pacific Highway. This bridge is a one of a kind and is a major feature on the Clarence River in Grafton.


Grafton has a humid subtropical climate with significantly more rainfall and higher temperatures in summer than in winter. Rainfall is lower than in stations directly on the coast, but monthly rain totals can often surpass 300 millimetres (12 in). The wettest month since records began was March 1974 when Cyclone Zoe produced a monthly total of 549.0 millimetres (21.61 in), whilst during periods of anticyclonic control and strong westerly winds monthly rainfall can be very low; for instance in July 1972 only 0.3 millimetres (0.01 in) fell. Grafton gets around 115.2 clear days on an annual basis. Grafton like many NSW regional centres, is affected by heatwaves in the summer months. On 12 February 2017 Grafton recorded a maximum temperature of 46.3, the town's highest recorded temperature since records began.

Climate data for Grafton
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 43.8
Average high °C (°F) 30.1
Average low °C (°F) 19.7
Record low °C (°F) 12.8
Average rainfall mm (inches) 138.9
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.7 11.0 11.1 8.0 7.7 5.7 4.6 4.3 5.3 7.4 9.3 10.1 95.2
Average relative humidity (%) 56 60 59 57 57 54 49 43 44 49 52 54 53
Source 1: Bureau of Meteorology
Source 2: For February record high: Weatherzone


Grafton is known and promoted as the Jacaranda City, in reference to its tree-lined streets and to the annual Jacaranda Festival. Inaugurated in 1935, Jacaranda is held each October/November. A half-day public holiday is observed locally on the first Thursday of November, the Festival's focal day.

A half-day public holiday is also observed for the Grafton Cup horse race, held each year on the second Thursday in July. It is the high point of the city's annual Racing Carnival—Australia's largest and richest non-metropolitan Carnival—which takes place over a fortnight in that month.

Grafton is the birthplace of several renowned country music players. Local artist Troy Cassar-Daley received four Golden Guitar awards at the 2006 Tamworth Country Music Awards—the largest and most prestigious country music awards in Australia. At the same event Samantha McClymont, the 2005/2006 Grafton Jacaranda Queen and sister of Brooke McClymont, also received an award for her country music talent.

A vision of Grafton with its numerous brilliantly-flowered trees in bloom is immortalised in Australian popular music in Cold Chisel's song Flame Trees, written by band member Don Walker, who had lived in Grafton during his formative years.

Notable people

Notable people who were born or lived in Grafton include:

  • James Armah (moved to Grafton in 2016) professional dual Commonwealth champion boxer
  • Troy Cassar-Daley, country musician
  • Fanny Cohen (born 1887), headmistress
  • Matthew Colless (born 1960) astronomer and Director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) at the Australian National University (ANU). He was for nine years previously the Director of the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO), Australia's national optical observatory.
  • Peter Drysdale (born 1938), economist
  • Adam Eckersley, musician
  • Nick Emmett, rugby league player
  • Jim Eggins (1898–1952), politician
  • Gary Foley (born 1950), Aboriginal activist, academic, writer
  • Charles Hercules Green (1919–1950), officer
  • George Green (1883–unknown), rugby league player
  • Henry Kendall (18 April 1839 – 1 August 1882)
  • Andrew Landenberger (born 1966), Olympic sailor and medalist
  • Robyn Lambley (born 1965), politician
  • Carly Leeson (born 1998), cricketer
  • Jimmy Lisle (1939–2003), rugby league and rugby union player
  • Brent Livermore (born 5 July 1976), field hockey midfielder
  • Ryan Maskelyne (born 1999), Olympic swimmer, competing for Papua New Guinea
  • The McClymonts, country music group consisting of sisters Brooke, Samantha and Mollie
  • Frank McGuren (1909–1990), politician
  • Iven Giffard Mackay (7 April 1882 – 30 September 1966), Lieutenant General
  • David Marchant AM (born 1954), railway industry executive
  • Bill McLennan (born 1942), statistician
  • Chris Masters (born 1948), journalist
  • Gillian Mears (born 1964), author
  • James Lionel Michael, poet and solicitor (moved to Grafton 1861, died in Grafton 1868)
  • Tony Mundine (born 1951), boxer
  • Warren Mundine (born 1956), politician
  • Kevin Nichols (born 1955), track cyclist
  • Sir Earle Page (8 August 1880 – 20 December 1961), 11th Prime Minister of Australia, 1939
  • Geoff Page (born 1940) poet
  • Ruby Payne-Scott (1912–1981), pioneer in radiophysics and radio astronomy
  • Frank Partridge (1924–1964), recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Cameron Pilley (born 1982), squash player
  • Eddie Purkiss (born 1934), rugby union player
  • Tyrone Roberts (born 1 June 1991), Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast Titans footballer
  • Michael Rush (1844–1921), rower
  • Lindsay Gordon Scott (1898–1941), architect
  • Henry Ernest Searle (1866–1889), rower
  • Sir Grafton Elliot Smith (15 August 1871 – 1 January 1937), anatomist and palaeoanthropologist
  • Tse Tsan-tai (1872–1938), Chinese revolutionary
  • James Tully (1877–1962), politician
  • William Edward Vincent (1823–1861), founded The Clarence and Richmond Examiner
  • Brenda Walker (born 1957), writer
  • Don Walker (born 1951), musician
  • Arthur Bache Walkom (1889–1976), palaeobotanist and museum director
  • Bill Weiley (1901–1989), politician
  • Danny Wicks (born 1985), rugby league player
  • Graham Wilson, rugby league footballer of the 1960s
  • Walter George Woolnough (1876–1958), geologist
  • Beau Young (born 1974), singer-songwriter, surfer


The MurwillumbahByron BayLismore railway (opened in 1894) was extended to Grafton's original railway station in 1905; for details, see Murwillumbah railway line. The North Coast Line reached South Grafton's railway station from Sydney in 1915. Pending the opening of the combined road and rail bascule bridge in 1932, Grafton had a train ferry to connect the two railways. Clarence Valley Regional Airport is the airport that services Grafton.

Grafton also lies on the Pacific Highway, the main North–South road route through Eastern Australia, and links it to the Gwydir Highway, one of the primary east–west routes through Eastern Australia.

Busways Grafton is the operator for local routes, as well as out-of-town routes to Junction Hill, Jackadgery/Cangai, Copmanhurst, and Maclean and Yamba.

Lawrence Bus Service operates a shopper service, as well as school service on school days, to and from Lawrence.

Northern Rivers Buslines operates a weekday service to Lismore via Maclean, Evans Head and Coraki.

NSW TrainLink provides a coach service to Byron Bay, connecting off the train from Sydney. It also offers a coach service to Moree via Glen Innes, connecting from the train from Brisbane.

Preceding station TfNSW T.png NSW TrainLink Following station
toward Casino or Brisbane
NSW TrainLink North Coast Line Coffs Harbour
toward Sydney
Preceding station Former Services Following station
towards Brisbane
North Coast Line Braunstone
towards Maitland

Military History

During World War 2, Grafton was the location of RAAF No.6 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot (IAFD), completed in 1942 and closed on 29 August 1944. Usually consisting of 4 tanks, 31 fuel depots were built across Australia for the storage and supply of aircraft fuel for the RAAF and the US Army Air Forces at a total cost of £900,000 ($1,800,000).


At 30 June 2018, Grafton had a population of 19,078.

From the 2016 census of Population:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 8.7% of Grafton's population.
  • 87.1% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 1.5% and New Zealand 0.7%.
  • 90.5% of people spoke only English at home.
  • The most common responses for religion were Anglican 27.0%, No Religion 24.5% and Catholic 21.1%.


The most popular sport in Grafton is Rugby league. There are two clubs from Grafton in the Group 2 Rugby League competition; the Grafton Ghosts and their arch-rival South Grafton Rebels. The two clubs each have a rich history, and derbies between the clubs have been known to draw attendances in excess of 3000 people.

Rugby League Clubs in Grafton:

  • Canterbury colours.svg Grafton Ghosts
  • St. George colours.svg South Grafton Rebels

Other sports such as soccer, Rugby union and Australian rules are also played in Grafton.


Public schools

  • Gillwinga Public School
  • Grafton High School
  • Grafton Public School
  • South Grafton High School
  • South Grafton Public School
  • Westlawn Public School

Independent schools

  • Clarence Valley Anglican School (formerly The Cathedral School)
  • McAuley Catholic College
  • St. Joseph's Primary School
  • St. Mary's Primary School
  • St. Andrew's Christian School

Defunct public schools

A large number of small (mostly one-teacher) public schools existed in the Grafton and Clarence Valley areas in the past. These schools have included:

  • Alumny Creek 1872–1969
  • Angowrie 1895–1899
  • Billys Creek 1946–1963
  • Calliope 1890–1983
  • Carr's Creek 1877–1964
  • Clouds Creek 1943–1964
  • Coalcroft 1875–1971 (originally known as Coaldale till 1912)
  • Coldstream Lower 1873–1966
  • Copmanhurst 1866–1938
  • Eatonsville 1881–1961
  • Glenferneigh 1928–1967
  • Kungala 1926–1977
  • Lawrence Lower 1883–1955
  • Mororo 1886–1939
  • Palmers Channel 1869–1975 (originally known as Taloumbi till 1907)
  • Seelands 1889–1967
  • Shark Creek 1877–1927
  • Smalls Forest 1885–1971
  • South Arm 1871–1967
  • Southgate 1867–1875
  • Stockyard Creek 1882–1895
  • Swan Creek 1870–1994
  • Trenayr 1901–1970 (originally known as Milers Waterholes till 1912)
  • Tullymorgan 1886–1971 (originally known as Cormicks Creek till 1911)
  • Tyndale 1868–1975
  • Ulgundah Island Aboriginal 1908–1951 (near Maclean)
  • Woodford Leigh 1869–1956
  • Woombah 1872–1953

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