North of Woolgoolga the Pacific Hwy leaves the coast and skirts Yuraygir National Park on its way to the small city of Grafton on the Clarence River. This is the start of the Northern Rivers region, which stretches all the way to the Queensland border. It's an area defined as much by its beaches and clement weather as it is by its three major waterways (the Clarence, Richmond and Tweed Rivers).
Don’t be fooled by the franchises along the highway – Grafton's grid of gracious streets has grand pubs and some splendid old houses. In late October the town is awash with the soft lilac rain of jacaranda flowers. Susan Island, in the middle of the river, is home to a large colony of fruit bats; their evening flight is an impressive sight.