Life on the Clarence River: Copmanhurst

Clarence River
Campers on the Clarence River at Copmanhurst

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most remarkable features of NSW’s Northern Rivers region are its rivers. The Clarence, Richmond and Tweed rivers are big, beautiful, meandering bodies of water that cut gracefully through mountains, forest, meadows and sleepy villages – before eventually discharging alongside golden beaches into the sea. Deciding just yesterday to investigate the biggest of these, the Clarence River, I followed its course and found myself in a town called Copmanhurst.

Clarence River
Crossing the Clarence River on Rogan Bridge Road, near Copmanhurst

Located about 30 minutes drive north-west of Grafton, Copmanhurst is a sleepy little town, the kind that’s often found in rural Australia. There’s a school, a couple of parks, parched fields, a population under 500, and the main social spot, which is of course the pub. I wandered around thinking how one would end up here. It wasn’t until I took a good look around, however, that I figured it was probably by choice rather than some sort of social sanction.

Clarence River
The Rest Point Family Hotel

On my travels I found a pretty, orderly resting place called the Sensory Gardens, then I headed to the top of town and gazed at the hinterland country. The landscape was painted with forested hills, stark trees, and thirsty-looking fields. Somewhere out there was Camelback Mountain and Mount Marsh – wild places that beckoned for adventure.

Clarence River
View from the top of town

However, it wasn’t until I drove to the boat ramp that I found the town’s main artery, the Clarence River. Here there were small forested islands, handsome cliffs and an embankment wide enough to park a few caravans side-by-side. It was dreamy country and I wished I had more time to follow the river.

Clarence River
The Clarence River at Copmanhurst

I later discovered that pioneers like Helen Page, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 92, had once forced her children into a boat to cross a flooded Clarence River to reach Copmanhurst’s minuscule, two-room classroom. I also discovered an overall kid-friendly town that might just be perfect for a family day out, or even a holiday. Copmanhurst is also most certainly a good base for adventurers.

Clarence River

Things to do in and around Copmanhurst

  • Visit the local art studios littered around town
  • Drive to Camelback Mountain and Mount Marsh (4WD only)
  • Have lunch/dinner and a beer at the Rest Point Family Hotel at the top of town
  • Have lunch in the sensory gardens (BYO)
  • Have a skate in the town’s skate park (it’s actually pretty good)
  • Embark on one of Australia’s longest whitewater rafting journeys (195kms) down the Nymboida River
  • Go on a tour of ‘The Gorge’ around the Clarence River run by knowledgeable locals

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