Grafton's purple flower power reaches global audience
ICONIC retro ice creamery I Scream smashed sales records this week with its jacaranda ice cream proving more and more popular by the day. It's just one of the many Grafton businesses cashing in on an influx of international visitors flocking to the city as word of the annual Jacaranda Festival spreads like wildflowers.
The influx can largely be attributed to increased exposure. Front and centre of the marketing campaign has been Clarence Valley Council's tourism arm My Clarence Valley.
Destination management officer Lou Gumb said My Clarence Valley's social media reach had experienced a significant spike during jacaranda season.
"According to our page insights on Facebook, we've had a reach of 227,254 across the last seven days," Ms Gumb said. "One post reached 56,105 people.
"The amount of comments on our posts that are in other languages is incredible.
"For the past couple of years we have promoted the whole jacaranda season from October 19 to November 9 so that we've got longevity and have people coming to stay for the whole three weeks.
"We compare ourselves to places like Mudgee, the Hunter, Port Macquarie and Byron Bay, and our engagement is just blowing our neighbours out of the water."
The extra social media attention has translated to more and more curious travellers putting Grafton on their bucket list.
"Looking at Booking.com for example, Clarence Valley accommodation is currently at 96% occupancy," Ms Gumb said.
With the heat turned up a notch in more ways than one across the weekend, owner and Jacaranda Festival president Jeff Smith was run off his feet.
The purple ice cream literally melted off the scoop as vendors on one of the busiest days in Jacaranda Festival history today. After temperatures in the low-30s throughout the week, Saturday spiked to 35.2 degrees - the perfect recipe for the ice cream business.
"Four out of the last five days have been record sales," Mr Smith said. "The increase came from our jacaranda ice cream.
"Jaca Thursday is always big, but this year the crowd was bigger, arrived earlier and lingered longer.
"Speaking to other vendors, many said they definitely had better days than last year, and the weather was perfect on Jaca Thursday then as well.
"But the day of the float procession is generally our busiest day of the year."
After serving at the Telstra Riverlight Festival on Friday night, the I Scream van wa set up at Grafton Showground for the TAFE Markets during the day on Saturday before River Feast at Memorial Park in the evening, while the shop in Prince St was in prime position for the Float Parade.
Toast Espresso owner Mark Hackett also remarked on the increase in sales this year. His business also has a drawcard with its jacaranda throne proving a popular stop for photos.
"We've had a lot more people come through than last year," Mr Hackett said.
"It's felt like there are a lot more visitors in town.
"This is the third year we've had the chair out the front, and it's been really popular."