We acknowledge the indigenous people who have lived beside, and respected the river for many thousands of years. They continue to be custodians of the Clarence.
They call the lower reaches Breimba and the headwaters Neyand, meaning top.
We acknowledge the presence and rights of the Bundjalung people from the headwaters near Tabulam, the Gumbaynggir people from the Nymboida area, and the Yaegl people from the lower reaches of the river to the sea.
The Clarence river arises from the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range. Its headwaters include the Boonoo Boonoo river near Tenterfield, the Maryland river near Stanthorpe and Koorelah creek. These tributaries join as the Clarence at Rivertree and continue southwards, before turning eastwards soon after the junction with the Mann/ Nymboida rivers from the south. The river continues eastward and reaches its mouth at Iluka (north bank), and Yamba on its southern shore. The river descends 1100 metres from Tenterfield, and 1500 metres from near Dorrigo. ( Nymboida arm). Its length is 394 km's and has a catchment of 22,716 km2. It is the east coast of Australia's largest pacific watershed.
During the January 2013 floods its estimated flow rate was equal to 2.5 times the size of Sydney Harbour every day. Matthew Flinders in 1799 landed on the southern shore(Yamba), and named it Shoal Bay, the mouth being wide and shallow at the time. He did not explore the river.
Significant industries include beef cattle, forestry, sugar cane, aquaculture, prawn trawling, fishing and tourism. The catchment includes 20% national park, and 30% state forest.
The lower reaches include one of the most extensive shallow estuarine systems in coastal NSW. The Broadwater on the northern side near Maclean supports the 2nd largest area of seagrass in coastal NSW, and covers 2,800 hectares. This region has extremely high conservation value, supporting numerous threatened and migratory birds, and thriving prawn and fish nurseries, including mullet, bream, flathead, tailor and snapper.
Natural flooding events are considered beneficial to the ecological health of the river. They help prevent excessive sedimentation and the build up of toxic nutrients, thus preserving these sensitive wetlands, as well as the sustainability of the associated fishing and tourism industries. The communities of Grafton, Ulmarra, Maclean etc are resilient in the face of these floods, having learnt to live with these threats over generations.
The Clarence River, and its significant Nymboida River arm, today retain their relatively wild state, and we believe in a No diversion, No dam approach to enable the situation to continue. Besides why would we wish to canoe anywhere else?!!