Patricia Newell-Dunkley Photographs by Reginald J. Dunkley
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Greetings from down under where the weather is typically spring, one day hot the next day cool and some pleasant showers in between. This is the time of year for the beautiful Jacaranda trees to impress with their magnificent lilac blue blooms. The Jacaranda Season is all too brief commencing in October and ending in November when the trees are decked out in glorious chartreuse green.
Grafton in Northern New South Wales is the place to see this wondrous spectacle, as the city explodes into its purple glory celebrating the town’s hundreds of colourful trees with Art exhibitions, live music, markets and parades.
The Festival starts on the 25th October and lasts for a week to the 3rd November. It commences with the crowning of their Queen and Princesses and holds events each day. The city of Grafton comes to a standstill on Jacaranda Thursday with the main street lined with market stalls, rides and entertainment performed by local businesses.
The Festival culminates with an enormous float parade, followed by a sunset family concert on the riverbank.
Sunday morning there is a fun run treading the carpeted Jacaranda blossom covered streets.
The Clarence Valley has much to offer with mighty rivers, beautiful beaches and a World Heritage Rainforest to discover.
Australia’s longest white water trail is in the Upper Clarence Valley. The canoe and kayak trail flows one hundred and ninety five kilometres on the Mann, Nymboida and Clarence rivers, with spectacular scenery.
There are wild river adventure tours from Grafton which take you into the Hinterland. You can explore the river in leisure hiring a houseboat and discover the town of Maclean with its rich Scottish heritage. The town is surrounded by cane fields and farmland and fishing boats harvest fresh prawns from this largest east coast river system.
Maclean is known as the Scottish town of Australia and celebrates its heritage every Easter with a Highland Gathering, lasting two days. There are street concerts, bagpipe competitions, caber tossing and dancing in kilts.
There are boutiques, cafes, restaurants all serving fresh local products, and there is also over two hundred colourful Tartan Power Poles painted with clan tartans dotted around the township.
Needless to say there is a Scottish shop in Maclean where you can get a free map with locations of all the clan tartans.
Travelling on is Yamba which is situated at the mouth of the Clarence River, three hours drive from Brisbane and two hours from the Gold Coast and declared as having the best climate in the world.
It is surrounded by Yuraygir National Park and the Yaegl People are the traditional custodians of the coastal areas.
Yamba has a very relaxed lifestyle with eleven fabulous beaches and one of the oldest Surf Lifesaving Clubs in the world formed in 1908; it is an ideal holiday resort. There is fishing, bowls, golf, walking, and horse riding, with access to all amenities that you would need. It is also within reach of Ballina, Lismore, and Byron Bay, all interesting towns in their own right and perfect spots for holidays.
Byron Bay has a fascinating history of Surfers in the 60’s Hippies in the 70’s Backpackers in the 80’s and everybody since. It is also famous for its clear warm water beaches where you will quite often see dolphins and turtles and migrating whales.
Pack your bags!
Here at Shelly Beach all is well with the Possum, a protected animal, still in residence and birds flying in for their morning feeds, Princess Pixie the Pomeranian has had a lovely bath and her nails cut by the travelling professionals.
The surfers are riding the waves and everywhere is gearing up for the influx of visitors over the summer period which is just around the corner.
My books “Letters of a Travelling Lady, Wallis the Woman I Love, The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain,” are available at Amazon, Xlibris and Crowood Publishers.