LARGEST OF THEM ALL?: Woodford Island from the south arm with Hielaman Island in the background.
LARGEST OF THEM ALL?: Woodford Island from the south arm with Hielaman Island in the background.

7 things you thought you knew about Clarence River islands

THE 53 Islands project team has been hitting the history books looking to dispel a few of the questionable "legends" associated with the Clarence River islands. Australia doesn't mind the odd furphy and it seem the Clarence has plenty of those floating about in its island system, too. Check out these seven and see where you rank on the 53 Islands myth-busting scale:


There are 99 islands in the Clarence River: BUSTED!

The 53 Islands team has heard all sorts of numbers suggested as the 'real' number of islands on the Clarence, but the most popular number is 99. We think this number originated from old newspaper articles forever seeking discovery of the Clarence's 100th island. Despite its inaccuracy, we do love the romance of the number 99.


Woodford Island is the largest inland island in the southern hemisphere: BUSTED!

Whether you grew up in Maclean, Grafton or indeed Woodford Island itself, everyone remembers being told the tales of the extremely large Woodford Island. The island is about 7000ha, more than twice as large as the next biggest Clarence River island, Palmers Island. But there are many, many larger inland islands in the southern hemisphere, mostly in Brazil. The Amazon River delta was always going to be hard to beat.


Woodford Island is the largest inland island in Australia: PLAUSIBLE!

Despite defeat at the hands of the Brazilians, we may just have ourselves an Aussie champion island. We cannot find any other islands larger than Woodford.


Woodford Island is the largest inland island in the world with its own mountain range: PLAUSIBLE!

We'd never heard this myth until recently, but we think it may just be true. Can anyone help solve this mystery?


There is an island called Brushgrove Island: BUSTED!

We've been told several times that we forgot to count Brushgrove Island. Sorry, but there is no such place. The village of Brushgrove is located on the southern tip of our goliath Woodford Island.


There are more islands on the Clarence than any other Australian river: BUSTED!

But we believe only the Murray River has more. We think the Clarence River has more islands than any other river on the east coast (or west coast) of Australia. More than the Hunter, Richmond, Shoalhaven, Tweed, Manning, Fitzroy, Brisbane, Mary, and so on. Even more than the Sydney Harbour, which by the way has only 13 islands. This is one reason we think the Clarence River is a class above these Aussie rivers, but instead we think it keeps company with global rock star rivers like the Amazon, Ganges, Danube, Mississippi and Mekong.


Susan Island is moving and will one day collide with the Grafton bridge: PLAUSIBLE!

But we will not live to see it. The island will likely creep downstream as more and more sediment is deposited at the bridge end of Susan Island, while the upstream tip may slowly erode. Such movement takes potentially thousands of years, so will the Grafton bridges even exist then?

  • The 53 Island project will be holding a community festival in the first two weeks of October. Tailor your event to the island theme and join in the celebration of our islands and river system, no matter how many you believe are out there.

For more information on the festival or to share your island story, email There is also a Facebook page and Instagram to follow: #53islands.



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