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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.
Pam and Dino Coiacetto

Pam and Dino Coiacetto

By on Jun 7, 2013 in The Coiacettos' |

Go to: Dino and Pam: family backgrounds | The original farm | From dairying to mixed farming | Weeds to lifestyle blocks | Beans, cucumbers and a lot of bananas | Cyclones and the Tornado | Resumed land, sales and policy changes | Peas, lychees and pumpkins | Bananas in the 1930s | Neighbours | The Future? | Working the farm today | The changing community | Italians and Australians | The growing family | A partnership
The changing community

So you would have seen a lot of different people come in over the years. Can you – when did it start to change with it coming to the smaller land – you know, the lifestyle people? When did you see that start?

Dino: In the seventies it started.

Pam: Late seventies.

Dino: See when we first planted bananas here, there would have been over six hundred acres up here of bananas.

In the area?

Pam: Rose Road here and up.

Dino: From here up, about six hundred, look after I don’t know how many farmers. Now it’s only this little piece here and that’s only, well that’s nine or ten acres but it’s only about three or four acres of bananas because there’s avocado trees in amongst them. And that’s it. There’s nobody else.

And did you have a sense of that happening – that change happening? Did it feel like it just suddenly happened or did you see people…?

Pam: Oh people moving – yeah.

Dino: Yeah because people got out, got jobs, a lot of them went and worked on the council and that and got other jobs working for brickies or one thing and another. They knew at the end of the week they were going to get so much. Here, until you put that cheque in the bank and hope it doesn’t bounce, you’re right. Cause I’ve had them bounce on me too.

Pam: But the community here, there’s no community as far as getting together anymore. It used to be fabulous. But once the…

Dino: The old…

Pam: Well yes, when some of the new pioneers moved in, it broke everything up. We used to have beautiful working bees down at the school. Everyone would go. None of that now, that stopped years ago with the new wave. The government gives them money now. We used to clean up the school, do the mowing, do general everything, look after the books, do all that. That’s not on anymore. Used to have barbecues…

Dino: Raise funds.

Pam: Yeah for the hall and the P&C which would buy stuff for the school you know. That community, that’s been gone now for thirty years would it be?

Dino: Well up this way, years ago I remember I knew everybody …

Pam: It was just a wonderful place to live

Dino: Now I know three people, maybe four, that’s all I know.

Pam: It’s different, just different.

And was there a time near the beginning that you did start to get to meet some of those new pioneers, new settlers? Was there ever a time when you felt like there was an engagement with them?

Dino: In the seventies, well that was it – we’d had our fundraiser for the school. You’d have your beer or …

Pam: Or whatever.

Dino: Your steaks or your wine. But they’d bring their own! Now, it’s a fundraising thing, you don’t bring your own.

Pam. It’s just different, just so different and the community just fell apart. It’s such a shame, it was fantastic. But it’s the same everywhere and now with the cost of insurance and that, the halls will go very quickly. I mean at Tullera down there it’s closer to town, they’re struggling just to pay the insurances. And there’s people there – you know!? And it’s so sad it really is. So sad.

Yes, yep oh the insurance has really done in so much of that community activity and halls.

Dino: Once upon a time you’d fall over and you might twist your ankle and you wouldn’t worry about it and now it’s sue, sue, sue, that’s all it is.

Some of my students are doing some work on the Aquarius – it’s forty years since the Nimbin Aquarius Festival. Do you remember people coming in to Nimbin?

Dino: It’s changed Nimbin, Nimbin’s not the Nimbin it used to be.

Pam: Not that we spent – we did have relatives over there. But Nimbin – we didn’t go that way because we go to Lismore. But we had rellies over there and we’d go over there and it was just the same – you know everybody – knew everybody else and everyone got in and the bowling club was the centre but now it’s just like a line is drawn over there you know? Yeah but … Oh and then with the Protesters Falls and all that, we had our tyres slashed, we had red paint thrown over our vehicle. They were horrible, horrible people. Horrible people!

How did they …? Did they come to your place?

Pam: Oh at meetings…

Dino: We were at meetings at the hall at the Channon.

Pam: I mean in a little place like this! Red paint over your cream vehicle when you come out of a meeting. Come on!

What sort of meeting, why were you at a meeting?

Dino: Oh because these so called “alternatives,” they just wanted to take over everything. You know and do everything their own way, you know? Change what had been going on for years and years and years. So they called it the “Concerned Citizens” and like Protesters Falls, they were logging that area before they came here. (laughs) They’d been logging it for years and years.

So it was that split between the …

Dino: Between the left and the right.

Pam: Definitely. We got on quite well, the communities one and Terania Creek we used to have sports days for adults and children down at the oval you know. When the new wave moved in it wrecked the communities, they wrecked it. And it’s really, really sad you know, it’s a shame, a big shame, yeah.

And did those people that you used to gather with, have they, are many of them still here or did many people leave …

Dino: Oh they shuffled off.

Pam: Yeah there’s not many families left, that’s true. The Channon hall is still fairly active I believe but our hall here – well I haven’t set foot in the hall since when?

Dino: It still goes every now and again you hear of somebody down there.

Pam: But things have changed – it’s the same everywhere. I honestly don’t think that it’s because we don’t like change. I mean we were quite happy to keep going to fundraisers and whatever here, but “oh no you don’t do that” and it was never said very nicely. You know, you don’t want to live like that – it’s alright, just live and let live. They just didn’t at the time. Things have probably changed now, I don’t know. No one takes too kindly to being told that they may not run a barbecue because you’re selling meat or whatever and things like that you know?

What – because it was meat?

Pam: That had something to do with it I believe, yes, yes.

So there was a sense at first that you thought maybe everybody could join in?

Pam: But it didn’t happen. No it didn’t happen.

Dino: I mean we tried to cater for everybody.

Pam: Yeah we did try.

Dino: Even veggie burgers. (laughs)

Pam: Because we tried you know. We wanted the community to come and be a community and also support the school, that’s what it was all about. But it just didn’t happen.

Dino: When they brought their own drinks to a fundraising and then at another one, at a fundraiser trying to sell raffle tickets for somewhere else. They put a stop to that, “Hey, this is our own fundraising, not for somebody else!”

Pam: But maybe they just didn’t know, you know.

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