Queen city of the north : a history of Grafton, capital of the Clarence 1837-2008

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- This thesis examines the City of Grafton in New South Wales from its creation to the present day within the context of the Clarence River valley and within the wider region. It investigates and analyses Grafton’s changing service role and its relationships with evolving rural land uses in its hinterland. Grafton’s early start was coupled with locational advantages. It was the first settlement to emerge on what was then a relatively easy-to-navigate river within a wide valley flourishing from initial development for timber, livestock or crops. This ensured it quickly became the regional centre providing retail, wholesale, professional and administrative services. Growth was followed by the gradual dilution and loss of its regional eminence. Particular emphasis has been given to the period from 1859 to 1885 when Grafton evolved from a rough timber port to a city with all the infrastructure of a city as well as formal declaration as a ‘City’. This is charted using various measures such as population in comparison with rival urban settlements, legal records and, most pertinently, banking records that demonstrate and define its loss of importance. A series of different products were produced in turn within its hinterland each of them fuelling a boom in Grafton as it rushed to serve the needs of the new market for specialised goods, whether it be axes and saws, livestock fencing, mining tools or cream separators. But as each new economic activity or crop reached the limits of possible growth or lost markets, entrepreneurs and investment shifted to areas with available land and greater potential. Grafton’s reach into its hinterland was eroded when rival settlements were established within the ambit of its former domain. Once they grew into major towns, Grafton lost momentum. Rival centres Lismore and Coffs Harbour have since emerged as competing regional centres within the hinterland that was once Grafton’s alone. The history presented in this thesis is not just regional in nature. It commenced simultaneously as a history commissioned by the Clarence Valley Council in 2007 to mark the sesqui-centenary of municipal incorporation of Grafton, one of the earliest municipalities gazetted in NSW in 1859. The place of commissioned history in Australian regional history is treated in the introduction.
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