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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

Buying and selling land

David: My grandparents bought this block, and I don’t know, he died I don’t know where his death and the expanding came in, but in about 1940 they bought a piece down on the river bank adjoining north of here.

That was for more cane was it?

David: yep, and I don’t know whether they bought a plot of bananas but when I was a child they still had bananas down there, probably only 5 acres but they used to sell them.

Where did they have bananas?

David: down along the river bank.

So not on a hill or anything? On the riverbank?

David: Yeah.

Jenny: I didn’t know that.

David: and …there’s ….I’m not sure, there’s another piece of land out looking north on the other side of the highway that I think they bought but it could have been bought in the original, but they had a different name for it. They called it Andersons as if they bought it from Andersons. Because they called the other bit Porters because they bought it from Porters.

When you mentioned the second farm, is that what you were talking about, the one further into Woodburn?

David: no, then about 1960 or the 60s they bought a farm again north of here and that was the one they sold when they bought the hill. And we actually bought, Jenny and I, when we sold – bought the partners out, we sold what I considered the worst hundred acres, down there in the bush. And now we’ve bought another hundred acres up between here and Woodburn.

Jenny: and that’s called Grays because we bought it from Grays!

David: we sold Andersons and we bought Grays is what we did really.

Ad who bought Andersons, why would they buy poor land?

David: a guy called Mick Watts bought it and he’s into growing palm trees and nursery sort of product stuff and he’s …

Jenny: that was probably about 15 years ago that Mick Watts bought it.

David: I think we bought Grays in 1999. We also sold a bit out …off down there [across the highway] to the people that bought the kennels.

Jenny: 15 acres for the kennels. The people came and begged us for a bit of land for the kennels and we said “oh well why not.”

David: There’s three farms between Grays [near Woodburn] and ours here.

Then when do you sell the land that the house is built on, off the highway? Didn’t you have land there that somebody built that big house under the ….?

David: oh yeah, yep. When we sold… that was before we….

Jenny: two blocks, there’s two little blocks on the end there.

David: we sold two 5 acre blocks on the end of the hill.

Jenny: that was well back. That was when Yvonne and Graham were here. We bought them out because we got the money from that.

David: no we’d sold those blocks before Yvonne and Graham left.

Jenny: oh that’s true but we got some of the money obviously and we were able to use that money to buy Yvonne and Graham out.

And they were just subdivision for housing?

Jenny: mmhmm. You were allowed to do that then, and another thing we sold in about 1980, is that little block down there with that house on it that David grew up in.

Oh you sold that?

Jenny: because we were renting that house to John and June our neighbours and they decided that they needed to buy a house – they didn’t want to rent anymore. So they were going around everywhere looking for a house to buy and when we all got on very well together and they were lovely with our children and we really didn’t want them to go so we said ‘why don’t you buy this’. So we went to the council and they said ‘ok you can cut that block off if this person helps you on your property’. So he’d collect things in Lismore and things. He didn’t actually….

David: he used to go to cane fires and help out a bit.

Jenny: so it was a bit, you know, a bit of a contrived definition of helping but they were allowed to buy that one little block which is just the same as a quarter acre house block.

What sort of policy….where was that written up?

Jenny: oh well it’s become a lot more difficult now. You can only sell 100 acre blocks now. So the hill blocks were, we were lucky to be able to do them too, so yeah. So yes we sold that block to Mick Watts, the piece to the kennels, 15 acres to the kennels, John and June’s house and the two blocks at the end of the hill. But we bought Grays which is a 100 acres. It sounds like we’ve spent our whole lives buying and selling things.

David: and when you look at the land plans here all the properties have got… are really long and narrow and they start at the river and go back.

Jenny: east.

David: except this one’s a bit different because of the bend in the river and there’s sort of a triangle in the bends, when you go north there’s all these properties going hundred acre blocks, very narrow and the same south but this place is a bit different.

And so would the land use then have followed that cane right on the river and then… ?

David: it wouldn’t have originally because they didn’t have cane here. But I think they must have been considered good areas that you could have a farm – it had a bit of good river front land. And also the access to all the properties was the river so… even in my childhood the road down here, I don’t think it was even bitumen. That’s why my grandmother agreed to come here. She said “it’s peaceful.”

The Pacific Highway? And now we have to close the doors because we can hear the trucks rumbling by!

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