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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

The McDonalds’

McDonald CaneDavid and Jenny McDonald have farmed cane outside Woodburn on their property Newstead since the mid 1970s, on land first settled by David’s grandparents Peter and Lillian McDonald in 1917. Both Peter and Lillian’s families had originally come north to the Lismore and Wyrallah areas in the late nineteenth century from dairying on the south coast. After they moved down from Lismore, Peter began with cattle on Newstead but soon started experimenting with cane after clearing much, but not all, of the heath and tee tree swamp land and digging drains. David’s father Ian and uncle James continued cane, along with a small dairy herd, commercial banana patch and further experimentation such as pineapples. The Forestry commission encouraged them to plant Pinus Elliotti, which David and Jenny continued to propagate, becoming a major weed problem. As neither of their children are interested in inheriting the farm, they are facing what to do next as they fast approach retirement.


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