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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.
Ray Flanagan, Leigh Davidson, Carol Perry & JJ Bruce’s Stories

Ray Flanagan, Leigh Davidson, Carol Perry & JJ Bruce’s Stories

By on Jul 1, 2013 in Dharmananda | 0 comments

Go to: Introductions | Dharmananda: from individual title to a multiple occupancy | WWOOFers | Growing food | Neighbours | Introducing Carol | The early years: creating community | Neighbours | Channon Markets | The Fire Brigade | Generational change and building community | The farm’s history | Bananas | Old roads | Finding a sense of belonging | Mr deSorzi | The Ivans | Back to the early days | Being a local

The Fire Brigade

Leigh: What about the Fire Brigade? JJ’s in the Fire Brigade.

JJ: Yeah I was thinking, I’d been actually reflecting on being a member of the Fire Brigade and how that places me in the old community compared with the new community. I guess I’m a product of a generation that’s come in – where were people buying in. And like Leigh was saying, people who are more affluent buying property. So ever since I’ve come I’ve never really been aware of being part of a minority group in any way.

I was fairly insular in family life in the first years of my time in the valley and so it was a very insular existence anyway. But when you guys have just been talking I was thinking that I do have connection to those people who are the old families and so I guess that gives me a certain amount of acknowledgement in those older circles.

Leigh: It’s interesting though that, I’m just reflecting going through a few fire brigade type things in my mind. I remember – going way back might have been late eighties, early nineties – there was a bit of concern up the valley about the fire brigade about fire and they had a lousy old truck couldn’t even get up the hill, up Red Hill up on Wallace Road. It always spat the dummy half way up and people said ‘God you know we’ve gotta get our own.’ Back in those days I think George Robinson and Ray Robinson, they were the Captain and Vice Captain, they were old timers and one of the old families. And I remember we had a meeting down at the hall and they spoke and it was all these people from up the valley who are ‘alternatives’ and ah, those guys said a few things, and there was this thing ‘well we’d like to join the fire brigade. That was when it was very much the fire brigade was them, not us. And ah, what happened was…

Carol: And a burnt hippie is a good hippie….

Leigh: [All laugh]. That’s what was said was it?

[Carol laughs]

Leigh: Anyway, it was interesting what happened. Someone from somewhere – the word went up through the hierarchy that people up Terania Creek are interested. And what we got was a fire trailer, that Russel….

Ray: Oh yeah.

Leigh: I think he still has it up there. Said ‘you guys can get this old fire trailer that we did up’ and that you needed a four wheel drive to pull. It was just a small thing and anyway, I think that was the start. It really needed a lot of work, we got that going, but then I think that made a connection and then people starting joining. Well I know Francis John Hutch at Bodhi farm, he’s the Captain. He’s the local Captain so things like that you know – that, I think, was probably a bit of a merging.

Carol: Well it’s interesting, the external threat always brings …

Leigh: … people together, yeah.

Carol: … people together, doesn’t it and fire is a very good example.

And Ray you were obviously talking to some of the locals, the men I assume, did you have any relationships that were less divided?

Ray: I didn’t really have a lot to do with most of the older settlers. Ah, I had a bit to do with Noel in the early days and we talked about those from next door, Peter Ivan. They never really changed their attitudes to us. The ones that really did turn against us were the people I hadn’t really had much to do with anyway.

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