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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.

Go to: Family history | The Farm | The River | David, Jenny and the Farm | Self-sufficiency and Aquarius | Cattle and floods | The landscape | Other on-farm agriculture | Buying and selling land | Poor economic times | Family partnership on the farm | Mill politics, harvesters and cane cutters | Changing methods | Chemicals | Market impacts and government subsidies | Generational change and succession | Impact on cane growing | Environmental issues | Politics of cane and the mill | Neighbours

The River

David: Another weird thing was … oh, I haven’t got it but there was a piece of paper with the tractor getting unloaded off the boat in Woodburn and I can remember going down after school – this is say 1955-56 – we’d go down after school when the boat came in and watch them unloading the stuff. Big heaps of stuff’d get unloaded onto the wharf just off from the Police Station.

And how long did that keep going for?

David: Not long after that. The river was really important to the transport of everything I think. My parents used to talk about sending say cream and pigs and stuff to Norco on a boat, this is probably going back to 1920s, 20-30s. They used to cut timber out up Bungawalbin, logs, and used to go down the river there to bring it to Woodburn to the saw mill, and then push it onto barges, big logs, and a whole barge, a barge full of big logs and big logs sticking out packed on tidily, you’d see them going down the river.

Jenny: And did your parents and grandparents put things on the boat to go to Lismore here or did they have to take it into Woodburn?

David: Down here I think.

Jenny: At the jetty?

David: I don’t…

Jenny: There was a jetty down here, several jetties for cane loading.

David: I get things a bit mixed up but I’ve heard, I think my mother talking about going to Lismore, she would have come here, what 71 years ago? She used to go to Lismore shopping on the boat. And I think there was a piano, it was sort of a whole day’s outing and the boat used to pull up somewhere about where the rowing club is I think [in Lismore]. And the big main shop was AGRs which was on the corner opposite the old post office.

Jenny: Where the Tahiti hut is, I remember that.

David: Two floors and a lift and … very modern.

And so with the jetty, why would there have been a few jetties down there [on the McDonalds property]?

David: They used to load the cane on jetties or wharves. Each farm had their own jetty for loading the cane.

Jenny: And you wouldn’t want to carry it too far, so you’d just put another jetty closer to that paddock.

David: We had two between our gate and down a bit further, although one was the second farm they bought so it might have been their jetty and they just kept…  you know maintained it. The jetties weren’t very flash. Only enough… enough sort of infrastructure to get cane loaded really.

Jenny: They had a big derrick …

David: I’ve got a picture I’ll show you in a minute.  Ok – see this is all very useful David.

David: I hope it’s truthful that’s all!

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