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How did you find relations with the neighbours?
The old settlers, we were the new settlers or the alternatives as they called us, and the old settlers, it was a bit of a worry. Because in 1979 Ellen and I arrived just as the protest up at Protesters Falls was starting to wind down. Yes September 7, 1979. And it was a big challenge to their values because you can imagine that their fathers were chopping trees down and here was these idiots from the city, who didn’t know a thing about the country, sort of saying ‘Oh you can’t chop trees down, trees are wonderful,’ and it was just a huge challenge to their values. There was even a group set up called The Concerned Citizens of The Channon which, you know, the whole idea was to do something about this problem of the “new settlers”. There was a classic, I suppose, clash of values really. But of course over the years, people are people and that all sort of died down.
Were there places where you met up with others?
There was no pub in those days, that was just the old derelict butter factory. No, it’s an interesting question; I think that would be a very interesting question to explore. I’m a, basically, a task oriented introvert, I was just nose down bum up on this property and those things didn’t really worry me. But I’m sure there are people around the area who might have thoughts on that. Some of the older kind of … the older new settlers if I can use that term. There’s still a lot of them around. Yeah.
Now that would be a really interesting question to explore. I mean there’s a bloke called Noel Everingham who used to be the local … he had a truck – he was a banana grower, formerly a dairy farmer, then went into beef, him and his sons were growing bananas there. But Noel had a truck and if there was something that you wanted to bring out from town, some timber or something, Noel would bring it out. And so you just get to know people and have him up for a cuppa ‘Come and have a cuppa tea Noel.’ He was quite interested in what everyone was doing. You see the good and the bad and there’s that initial reaction I think.
And I think by the time the pub went in, which would have … oh not even sure when that was, but a bloke called Gary Maserana who owned the shop, a bit of an entrepreneurial sort of bloke, thought he’d turn the old butter factory into a pub. And interestingly that created a kerfuffle because there were a lot of people, a lot of the new settlers, thought a pub would bring drunks and, you know, perverts. I stayed right out of that, I mean, I thought ‘What’s wrong with a pub?’ People were saying the road toll would go up… they were, the alternatives were, leading the charge. Yeah, I remember one of the young blokes who lived here at the time, he’s now left, but I remember he was very strongly against the pub I know. So there was a lot of bad blood that was a little flare up opened old wounds I suppose.
Is there anybody much farming around here now?
You don’t see many of those old names owning property now. The only one I would say would be Steve and Maria Austen, they must be up here, they obviously weren’t the originals but they’re further up the valley. They’re farming cattle. Interestingly their son’s a vet, went to uni and did very well; he’s a vet in town. It’s all lifestyle around here now. Lifestyle with a, you know, a few cows or a horse or two or there’s Andrew down opposite – Mimosa Park – he’s got a lot of cattle. He bought it from a bloke who was a real farmer but Andrew himself goes out and does fencing. Not too many people in this area make money from cattle. You need a lot of cattle to make what you would consider a decent living. But you go back to the Concerned Citizens, that’s thirty years ago or more. Those old timers have moved on.