53 islands
53 islands Graham Mackie

WHAT'S ON: 53 Islands Festival salutes the Clarence

CHECK out the fantastic events on around the region for the 53 Islands Festival. 

Wings Over Water Art Exhibition

September 25- October 26

A group exhibition by local artists, curated by Kerrie Howland. Inspired by the Clarence River, its many islands and a considered response to the wonderful perspective of a bird's eye view. Opening night on October 5, 5-7pm with Yaegl artist Rosie Vesper.

A fundraiser for the Clarence Catchment Alliance to stop mining in the Clarence Valley. Yamba Art Space Gallery, 2/6 Uki St, Yamba. 0488 070 069. Free. 

Exploring Seed Diversity through Art with Sophie Munns, SeedArtLab

October 6-7

Brisbane-based artist Sophie Munns grew up on the Clarence. Join her in this special SeedArt workshop tribute to 53 islands. 

Day One takes you deep into the world of seeds through many different lenses. Smart Phone cameras & multiple drawing approaches will be used to examine seed material. Work on artist books applying layered mixed media surfaces & drawing seeds into these surfaces in ink. 

Day Two, an island field trip taking photos, collecting seed material, working in journals and on paper, with the afternoon spent on an artist book. Book for Day One only, or both days for a comprehensive experience indoors and outdoors.  All art materials provided. Just bring a Smart phone, Artline pen & your notebook or journal.

Book with Cowper Gallery at cowpergallery@iinet.net.au

Iluka's Amazing Islands

October 11

A special visual presentation and discussion highlighting Iluka's amazingly beautiful nearby islands. Local photographer Tony Belton will present images and clips along with a bit of history, with writer and 53 Islands co-founder Claire Aman. 10am-midday. Iluka Library, Duke St, Iluka.  

Book here. Free. 

ISLAND FUN: The 53 Islands Festival celebrates the Clarence River.
ISLAND FUN: The 53 Islands Festival celebrates the Clarence River.

Science in the Pub

October 11 Crown Hotel and October 12, Harwood Hotel

Come, drink, listen and talk. We have a selection of scientists to each give a short talk on river topics like river quality, ecology and flooding. Then it's over to you for questions.   

We suggest booking a table for dinner beforehand to ensure you get a good position.

Talks start at 7:30pm. Email kdmcandrew@gmail.com for more information. To book tables call Crown Hotel 66424000, Harwood Hotel 66464223. Free.

Toadily Island Hopping

October 11 at Ashby Hall and 18 at Illarwil Oval

Clarence Valley Conservation in Action Landcare invites you to an island cane toad hunt. Bring your family for an entertaining and educational evening, helping us control cane toads in the Lower Clarence. Learn why toads are a problem and what you can do to help. Events start after sunset and last for about two hours. Children bring an adult. Suitable for people with some fitness. Wear sturdy shoes for uneven ground. Gloves and buckets supplied. 

To book call Scott 0477 616 210 or email scott@cvcia.org.au. Free. 

Meet the Island: Tour of Elizabeth Island 

October 12

Friends of Susan & Elizabeth Island will take you by boat and show you around this leaf-shaped island opposite Corcoran Park. See redbeans, blackbeans, native bees and share our delight in this regeneration work in progress. Wear sturdy shoes, a hat and bring drinking water and afternoon tea.

To book a place on the boat, call 0423 747 468. The boat runs back and forth between 2pm-5pm. 

Flow Space Art Exhibition: Currents

October 12-26

Big opening night 12 October. Currents is an eclectic and interactive group exhibition paying homage to the mighty Clarence River, the islands and its longstanding connection to us.

Flow Space Gallery, Through St South Grafton.  0423134173,  flowspaceinfo@gmail.com. Free.

Kade Valja from Flowspace Gallery.
Kade Valja from Flowspace Gallery. Kim Dahl

SAILING: 53 Island Challenge - Elizabeth Island

October 26

The island races will be sailed as a separate series and trophies etc. will be awarded on aggregate points so one would need to sail both events. One race will be sailed from Corcoran Park and the other from CRSC club house. crsc@live.com.au 0418666027.  

Morning Glory Morning 

October 13. 

Mega weeding on Susan Island with Friends of Susan and Elizabeth Island. Liberate native trees from morning glory vines. Your island needs you. The boat leaves from Prince St wharf at 10am, returning at 1pm.  Admire your work afterwards from the Crown Hotel. Bring secateurs, gloves, boots, insect repellent and drinking water.

Book a place on the boat call 0423 747 468 or 53islands@gmail.com. Free.

Everlasting Paddle

October 13

Launch your own kayak and explore Everlasting Swamp with the Clarence Valley Bushwalking Club. The club holds regular bushwalking, paddling and bicycle events in the Clarence Valley and beyond. Come as a visitor, you might end up joining the club. To book for the kayak, call Geoff 0407 226 622.  clarencevalleybushwalkers@gmail.com  

From the Mountains to the Sea: 53 Islands?

October 3-November 30

Grand opening October 13 at 6pm. A photography exhibition at Harwood Hotel. Grafton Camera Club has chosen to capture in print some of the aspects of our mighty Clarence River and its many islands.

Michelle Thornton 0427 217 698 (evenings) or Terry Lilley 0418 601 439 (evenings). www.graftoncameraclub.com or Facebook. Free. 

Watershed: Poetry and Images of the Clarence

October 16

Internationally acclaimed poet Geoff Page grew up on the upper Clarence, going on to live a life driven by poetry and jazz. Geoff is visiting for 53 Islands to read us his river poems.

With the stunning photography of Graham Mackie and readings by emerging poet and adventurer Hayley Talbot. 5.30pm for snacks, poetry at 6pm. Grafton Library, Pound Street, Grafton.  Book on 6641 0100.  

Senior Citizens Luncheon River Cruise

October 18

Grafton Senior Citizens cruise the Clarence - by bus to Yamba, an island ferry cruise to Harwood and back, then back to Grafton via Woodford Island. For Grafton Senior Citizens members.

To become a member, you just have to be over 50, complete a form and pay $10 per year.

During our bus trip, we intend to view, cross, or mention about 18 of the islands.

No doubt the guide on the river cruise will also mention several islands. To book, call Sandra 6642 7720. 

Salute to Susan

 October 19

Free yoga at Memorial Park with Grafton School of Yoga. Just come along, no need to book. Regular yoga can benefit our physical, mental and emotional health.

Morning session with Loni Wilson, 8am-9am. Afternoon session with Hayley Skeggs, 5.30pm-6.30pm. River end of Prince St, Grafton. Bring a mat.  0439273289 or graftonschoolofyoga@yahoo.com.au.  

Loni Wilson will be guiding you through yoga at Memorial Park.
Loni Wilson will be guiding you through yoga at Memorial Park.

Maclean High School: Community Open Day

October 19 10-3pm

We invite you to join us in our library for a day of community celebration, as we acknowledge ten years of Yaegl perspectives in our curriculum at Maclean High School. Our stories will be shared - with displays, historical archives, film, art, photography, traditional weaving, artefacts and dancing.  From the islands of the Clarence Valley, and the river to the sea, we welcome you.

Observing the Night Sky from an Island

October 19

Stargazers from Clarence Valley Astronomical Society are observing the night sky on Woodford Island. If you happen to be going past, you might see them looking through a variety of telescopes at Omega Centauri, Jupiter and Saturn. They'll let you have a look, and will share some of their knowledge. Moonrise is not until late, so there should be a good dark sky.

Corner of Woodford and Donaldson Streets, Brushgrove. 9pm. 

Orienteering on an Island

October 25

Bush'n'Beach Orienteering Club invites you to exercise your mind and body with an orienteering adventure on Susan Island. Bring your family and friends along. It's an adventure sport for everyone. Check out their Facebook page for more information

Clarence 100

October 18-20  

A 100-kilometre paddle down the mighty Clarence from Copmanhurst to Yamba. This three-day event encourages a social atmosphere with a serious purpose.  

We aim to showcase the magnificent Clarence River and its area, to understand and appreciate the cultural significance this river has for traditional land owners of this region, and to support local groups that support us by keeping you safe along the way. We hope you enjoy your personal challenge, meet some new friends and return again and again. Never underestimate the Clarence 100. Register on clarence100.com.au.   0433155953. 

Glen McClymont, Claire Aman and Kieran McAndrew in front of Susan Island, one of the islands including in upcoming
Glen McClymont, Claire Aman and Kieran McAndrew in front of Susan Island, one of the islands including in upcoming "53 Islands" project. Adam Hourigan

Islands of the Clarence Art and Craft Exhibition at Ferry Park Gallery

October 7-20

You are invited to celebrate our river and islands at an exhibition showcasing entries in the Gallery's Community Art and Craft Competition. Artists, crafters and creators, have your entries in by 27 September. Free.

Rowing: A Celebration of Islands

October 19

Grafton rowers enjoy the islands from the water every day. Come and join Grafton Rowing Club, starting with a 'learn to row' morning on Saturday 14 September. The Club House is on the water opposite Susan Island, near the Crown Hotel, Prince Street, Grafton.

Facebook or contact Don Noble on 6642 6389. Club members are rowing around the islands on Saturday 19 October, rowing upriver around Susan and Peanut Island, or downriver under the bridges and around Elizabeth Island. 

Clarence River Classic Islands Cruise

14-19 October

Launch your own boat for a week of sailing with the Clarence River Yacht Club. We sail downriver from Grafton to Iluka Bay over three days with explorations, island spotting and picnicking along the way, and calling in to some of our favourite island village eateries. The Classic Island Race is on the final two days, from Freeburn Island to Elizabeth Island. To book, contact secretary@cryc.com.au.  

Island Kayak Tour with Dave's Outdoor Adventures

Open every day

Dave from Dave's Outdoor Adventures will take you exploring on the great bend in the river at Grafton. Circumnavigate Susan and Peanut Islands, enjoying the birdlife on this shimmering expanse. Paddle back to South Grafton and enjoy a meal at grand old Walkers Hotel. Or hire a double kayak and paddle yourself. Ring 0481 782 308. 

River of Islands Art Exhibition

 September 30- November 30

Grafton Art Club has been nurturing local art since 1967. See their works inspired by the Clarence River. Grafton Regional Library, Pound St Grafton. 

Two Black Ducks Art Exhibition 

October 9-20

Ilarwill means black duck in Yaegl. Ian Versace - watercolours of local riverscapes capturing the light in reflection and stillness of the moment. Raichbhe Walkman - lost wax, acrylic, watercolour and gouache on canvas. Inspired by this little piece of heaven they call the Clarence Valley.

Come and watch an artist at work. Illarwill Hall, Clarence St, Illarwill, Woodford Island. Open Wednesdays to Sundays, in the afternoons.  Free. 

Island Stories at the Gallery

Every Sunday in October.

Visit the Regional Gallery to listen to some of the finest stories by local writers. Nearly 200 people wrote island stories for this year's Long Way Home competition. The best will be published in a book, The Long Way Home, Stories from the Clarence Valley 2019. Hear a preview on Sunday afternoons in October. Our minds are constantly imagining, recreating, shaping stories. Regional Art Gallery 158 Fitzroy St, Grafton. 66423177.  Free.  

Claire Aman, one of the 53 Island Festival founders.
Claire Aman, one of the 53 Island Festival founders.

Coldstream Gallery Exhibition: Islands

October 7-20

 A group art exhibition featuring . . . islands. A fine art gallery promoting local artists and artisans, Coldstream Gallery is housed in the original Sydney Stores department store, in our historic river port of Ulmarra. 5 Coldstream St, Ulmarra.   Free. 

Take a Pleasure Cruise with Clarence River Ferries

Enjoy learning some history while cruising the beautiful Clarence River between Yamba, Iluka and Harwood, a 30 km round trip. We have two ferries - the MV 'Mirigini' and the MV 'Clarence Head.' The cruise departs every Wednesday, or for group bookings on Fridays. Try our regular Sunday Music Cruise. Lunch and snacks available on board. To book, call 0408 664 556.

Clarence Catchment Alliance: share your photo to stand up for the Clarence River

Exploratory mining is underway in Ewingar, Mount Gilmore, Cangai and Dorrigo. Please join our social media campaign throughout October. Make a sign and take it to your favourite place on the Clarence River, expressing your opposition to dirty mining here. Take a selfie or group photo holding your signs and share on social media. Use the #nominesclarencevalley and #53Islands to play a part and make a difference. Email stopcangaimine@gmail.com or find us on Facebook. Free. 

Visit Grafton Cathedral

Open every day. Come and see Acknowledging Our Place. This painting by Frances Belle Parker provides a stunning backdrop in the Baptistry of the Cathedral. In the place where we celebrate the sacramental power of water to enliven and cleanse, this work evokes the life-giving capacities of the Clarence River and reminds us that we stand on country that has long been sacred to the indigenous peoples of this ancient land. Duke/Victoria St Grafton.  Free 

River Islands Tour with Yamba Kayak

Every day

The river islands tour explores the islands, mangrove bays, and beaches inside the mouth of the Clarence River. Leaving from Yamba, we paddle around the islands of the river estuary, encountering dolphins, sea-eagles and many other bird and marine life abundant in this area. Stopping along the way on an island beach we spread out the picnic blanket for a morning tea that you will be raving about! No experience necessary, suitable for all abilities.  Tour or hire - you choose. To book, call Phil Moore 0466 035 444. 

Grafton Regional Gallery 

Every day

Create your own island on the gallery veranda. Much-loved Clarence Valley artists Frances Belle Parker and Cassandra Samms have produced a larger scale river map and illustration to inspire you. 6642 3177  158 Fitzroy St Grafton   Free 

A Gift to the River from Cowper Collage Congregation 

Cowper Collage Congregation are creating a surprise large-scale collage in a public space in Grafton. See if you can spot it around the underside of the Grafton Bridge in October. It's all about the islands of the Clarence River.  Check the website at cowperartgallery.com for the location, or find Cowper Gallery on Facebook. 

Munro Island: The Sand Bank that became an Island 

October and beyondA display at Lawrence Historical Museum. Early settlers in Lawrence found the river at 'The Elbow' had a deep channel on either side of a shallow area, which was partially exposed at low tide. 170-plus years later we have Munro Island, about 30 hectares in size with a diverse eco-system. Merton St, Lawrence. 66477588. Facebook Lawrence Historical Society. 

Self-Driving Tour - Hickey Island to Carrs Island

October 7-20

Eleven of the islands in the Clarence River are accessible by road. Some of our best island experiences are possible without setting foot in water! Directions below:

Start at the mouth of the Clarence River, parking your car at the carpark on Hickey Island in Yamba. This great island then can be explored by foot. Most people know that when travelling from Yamba toward the Harwood Bridge you will drive on three separate islands -Micalo, Romiaka and Palmers. We highly recommend stopping for a coffee (or some takeaway craft beers) from the great Palmers Island Store. If you cross the Harwood Bridge you'll land on Harwood Island. Plenty to see here like the historic school buildings, sugar mill and of course the local Harwood pub. North of Harwood over the Serpentine Channel is Chatsworth Island. You'll have a great drive along its western side, past the charming Chatsworth village. A short drive from Chatsworth, towards Woombah, is the dogbone shaped Goodwood Island with its Port of Yamba wharf. Heading back across to Chatsworth, you can drive across the north arm bridge to Warregah Island or continue on over the back channel bridge and eventually onto the canefields of Ashby Island. The largest island in the Clarence River, Woodford Island, can be reached by crossing McFarlane Bridge in Maclean, Wingfield Bridge in Brushgrove or the Lawrence Ferry. Finally, even upstream in Grafton there is an island accessible by road, the appropriately named Carrs Island. Just drive over the small bridge past the old Peter's Factory and voila, you're an islander!

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