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Clarence Valley CouncilPopulation forecast

Clarence Valley Council

Drivers of population change

History and geography

The Clarence Valley has been home to the Bundjalung, Gumbaingirr and Yaegl nations for millenia and continue to be an integral part of the community and future prospects.

The Clarence Valley Council is the largest local government area on the North Coast. Grafton was the first city on the North Coast and remains the significant regional centre, and there are a number of important centres including Maclean, Yamba and smaller townships along the Clarence River and on the Pacific Coast. The upgraded Pacific Motorway links the towns and industries of the valley with the north coast and an easy drive to south east Queensland. The standard gauge rail link between Brisbane and Sydney passes through Grafton. With the newly completed M1, the more affordable land in the Clarence Valley is more easily accessible to the North Coast region, and South-East Queensland.

The first Europeans started to arrive in the area in the 1830s, harvesting cedar by the river and establishing agricultural industries. Our engines of growth continue to include agriculture, horticulture, forestry, along with tourism, marine manufacturing and logistics, enabling activities such as construction and service industries (health, education, retail, governance).

The Clarence Valley Council was formed in 2004 by the amalgamation of the councils of Copmanhurst, Grafton, Maclean and Pristine Waters and the adoption of the activities of North Coast Water and Clarence River County Council.


Between the 2011 - 2016 Censuses, Clarence Valley was a net recipient of migrants. Significant proportions of gains were made from Overseas sources, and from elsewhere in New South Wales, while the main destination for departing residents was Queensland. Small gains and losses occurred with other Australian jurisdictions.

Historical migration flows, Clarence Valley Council, 2011-2016

Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago" and .id estimates of international out-migration.

Housing Role and Function

The original European settlement patterns, with housing based around the Clarence River has continued, with Grafton, and to a lesser extent, Maclean and Yamba being the major population centres. Grafton functions as the main commercial and governmental centre, with Yamba and the other coastal townships exhibiting a function as retirement living and key tourism areas. These townships are expected to continue to grow at a higher density in areas such as Yamba, Maclean, Gulmarrad / Townsend, along with Clarenza and Junction Hill growing with a less dense settlement pattern.

Although large areas of the council are protected from development because they are national park, floodplain, bushfire prone, agriculturally important or environmentally sensitive, there is sufficient land supply already identified in existing strategies in and around the existing settlements to satisfy likely demand for the next 20 years.

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