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Community sour over ABC Back Roads

ABC’s Back Roads crew filming the Culture On The Clarence festival in South Grafton, which featured in the controversial part of Monday night’s program.
ABC’s Back Roads crew filming the Culture On The Clarence festival in South Grafton, which featured in the controversial part of Monday night’s program. ABC TV

THE screening of ABC's Back Roads last night, featuring the Clarence River and the communities on its banks, has provoked a storm of criticism.

Presenter Heather Ewart described the Clarence as "the river that provides and divides" with the division highlighted in the communities of Grafton and South Grafton.

The program repeatedly referred to the separation between the communities as "haves and have nots".

Culture on the Clarence, an annual community festival in South Grafton, was featured during the program but festival director Casey Challacombe has distanced the festival from the program in an open letter she wrote on social media.

"Culture on the Clarence does not support the sentiments displayed in tonight's episode of Backroads," she wrote.

"Every member of the COTC committee works hard for our community and 90% of us live in South Grafton.

"I can't speak for the whole committee but I didn't bust my guts for hundreds of hours to organise Culture Day to have it reduced to 'an event used to alter the stigma of South Grafton'.

"It has never been about the division between North and South or "haves and have nots". It's about pride and showcasing the Valley, especially its unique setting."

Ms Challacombe's feelings have been mirrored on social media with many community members and The Daily Examiner readers sharing their dismay at the program's display of Clarence life.

"I'm also disappointed with how South Grafton was portrayed. Appears that minimal time was spent in the area, just long enough to get some money shots to perpetuate the 'stigma' that was discussed. If time was spent, beauty would have been found," Matt Katon said.

"The show did nothing for the Clarence Valley except highlight a major cattle sale, two famous kayakers, two local men fishing in the gorge being unofficial weather monitors, how bad South Grafton is (which it's not) and that some won't even come over the river for services," Elizabeth Gardiner wrote.

"What was said about Culture on the Clarence and South Grafton didn't sit well with me. It didn't show off what the valley has to offer, which is so disappointing."



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