Perched on the banks of the Williams River, Clarence Town might be quite a stretch from the sea, but the distinction of launching Australia’s first ocean-going paddle-steamer goes to a ship-builder in this Hunter Valley village. The shipbuilder was Deptford, the year was 1831, and the historic craft was the William The Fourth. They were the glory days when Clarence Town boasted six pubs and thousands of tonnes of timber were loaded on the local wharves for the down river voyage to the junction with the Hunter and on to the sea.
Many of the links with the past have been preserved and the Bridge Reserve on the way into town is favoured by bird watchers and picnickers. The picnic grounds also feature a plaque celebrating the 150th anniversary of the launch of the William IV on November 14, 1831.
Unchallenged as the town's most usual tourist attraction is the Good Samaritan Donkey Sanctuary. Just 2km out of town, the sanctuary was opened in 1990 as a haven for abandoned or mistreated donkeys.