The city of Grafton was first explored by an escaped convict, Richard Craig in the year 1831. In 1838, John Small arrived in the city and one of the first persons to occupy land on the Woodford Island and thereafter establishment spread in the entire district. By 1885, Grafton had established itself as a city and many buildings of this early period have now become a property of the National Trust. The Clarence River was one of the most important factors which helped in the development of the city and it has continued to remain an influential part of the Grafton city.
The Grafton city has a tropical type of climate which is characterised by very warm summers and extremely cool winters. During the summer months of January and February the temperatures soar up to 30ºC and more. During winters the temperatures drop down to 6ºC or lesser. Grafton receives an annual rainfall of 138.4mm or more and most of this occurs in the summer months.
Grafton is well-connected through rail, road and air transport. The Murwillumbah-Byron Bay-Lismore rail network was extended up to north Grafton in the year 1905. The North Coast Line has been extended from Sydney to Grafton in 1915. The road network is also well-developed in the city, connecting it to the major Australian cities.
Grafton also has a thriving cultural scenario. There are numerous shops where one can buy fine art pieces, woodwork, doll-making, lapidary, ceramics, photography and quilting works. The Prentice House which is known as the Regional Art Gallery is rated as one of the excellent art galleries of Australia. The gallery organises many exhibitions on traditional and contemporary works. These exhibitions are organised after every five to six weeks and many cultural functions are also organised in the gallery.
Grafton has an exciting and enthralling option for various water sports like skiing, swimming, diving, snorkelling and other adventures. River cruises are also available for tourists at the mouth of the Clarence River. Fishing can be an exciting activity for first timers in Grafton as the freshwater level changes frequently due to rainfall variations. Racing is also a very popular sport in Grafton and the major crowd puller is the Inverell Cycling Classic and July Racing Carnival. The renowned Grafton Cup is the most popular horse race in rural Australia. Some popular tourist spots in Grafton include:
- Grafton Heritage Trail
- Grafton Gaol
- Grafton District Golf Club
- Grafton farmers Market
- Susan Island
- Memorial Park
- Market Square Park
- Clock Tower
Grafton has ample shopping opportunities which are provided by the local shops and markets. There are many speciality stores as well as rural shops which have fascinating craft items and antique works. Grafton also has many restaurants and cafes which offer various international cuisnes to tourists and local people. Some of the popular restaurants and coffee shops are—espana Motel Restaurant, Tallowood Café, Plateau Café, Moos Restaurant, Aromas Coffee Lounge, Cedars Restaurant and Take 5 Coffee Lounge.
Grafton also offers a wide variety of options for accommodation purposes to tourists. Few of the accommodation options in Grafton include:
- Quality Inn Grafton
- Best Western Espana Motel
- Comfort Inn Fitzroy
- Glenwood Tourist Park Grafton