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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

Finding and establishing the property

So, we started looking further afield to actually get away from that and we’d been looking around the Nimbin area – and that of course hadn’t had the festival yet – and we were looking at clapped out banana farms and things looked very depressing. Anyway we came up this road one day on the way back to Mullum and there was an old guy on the side of the road called ‘Old Bob’, he lived in a real shack.

Ray: A box.

Carol: A box, actually a tin, did you all say all this?

Ray: No I didn’t.

Carol: He lived in a tin box and he said ‘oh you might be interested in this land’. So we looked at the land.

Leigh: Where was the tin box?

Ray: Opposite, near Bruce’s shed on this side of the road.

Carol: Not so far along. He slept on like slats with bags and…. Anyway if you went there you got a bit felt up. He was into that too. [all laugh]

Ray: He wasn’t that old. [laughing].

Carol: No and he used to ride around – he had a really tall horse and he’d ride around on his horse and he’d say, ‘I’ve seen a lot from this horse. You should see what those hippies do under trees,’ and stuff like that. So anyway – he was a bit of a perv – so he did show us the land. Even though it was really degraded land and – there were no trees on it – it was bald, it was really bald, the fences were all fallen down – but it didn’t have that sort of depressing look of people still trying to run failing banana farms – because it was agisted with beef cattle at the time. We saw all the water, you know the creeks, the internal creeks and the creek frontage and we knew there’d be a lot of good water supply and there was enough flat land and undulating land and so on, forest, so we decided to get that land. Well it was, I forget how much it was but it was something like nine and a half thousand. Is that right? And they threw in an old Land Rover. But at the time we didn’t have it – nine and a half thousand was a lot of money in 1970 too and we didn’t have it. So we went away to Laos to work in Vientiane at the school and, we earned, both of us working, quite a salary and I actually didn’t see any of my salary for the two years because it just came back and paid for the land.

So we’d been on the land about six month and a whole lot of people were here, like dope smoking people… What happened?

Leigh: This is when you came back from Laos?

Carol: No when, when we, we went away and somehow one fellow was here and he brought a whole lot of his cohort on and they just really used the land to grow dope and they called it the Rainbow Box. And they did nothing and we left them a really functioning …. What was the car we had, it wasn’t a Land Rover it was ….?

Ray: Ah – Willys.

Carol: Willys, yes, four wheel drive, tools. Dudley had been to a lot of farm auctions, he bought tools. Anyway the tools were given away, the Willys was left as a wreck, nothing happened except that they dug up the river paddock and plated a corn crop and then dope in the middle. And whilst we’re away, because the payments are coming back – do you, is this what you want to hear?

Jo: Oh this is great.

Carol: Whilst we were in Laos because it often took two weeks for a letter, so the payments. Lester Brian was our Solicitor and he had a whole story of his own. But he was very on-side and sometimes the payments didn’t come through. And this fellow tried to use this fact to get the land from us, to actually take the land. It was very, very unpleasant. And Lester Brian actually used his – you know the legal funds they have to, to….

Leigh: Trust funds.

Carol: Trust funds! The legal trust funds to make the payment for us until our payments came through. He was an incredible ally.

Leigh: He stuck his neck out.

Carol: That’s right. And when we came back they had pretty much, I think they had scattered because they knew that we wouldn’t be happy campers when we came back. So I came back from working in a school, having a woman to look after my child, a gardener, a driver – not that you would let him drive you anywhere but….  [laughs] to living in a tin shed with no running water and you know ….

Leigh: Shitting into a hole in the ground.

Carol: Yes. No toilet and just living in a tin shed that you see down there.

Jo: How many children?

Carol: I only had one child. Yes, so then we just started trying to get the community together and … what happened…… [pause]

Ray: Dudley’s mother moved up here for a while didn’t she?

Carol: She was here on and off, yes, Dawn, she had a caravan here that’s right.

Ray: Mmm, mmm.

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