Rosebank in its heyday was a small dairying community that grew a myriad of crops which included bananas, pineapples and maize. In its early years the settlement boasted a post office, general store, schools, several halls, butcher, blacksmith and two churches. Bread was delivered daily from Clunes and a daily mail service was running. The dairy product cream, went by road to the Norco Co-op. Pty. Ltd., Lismore, and two or more case mills were in regular operation in the area.

Rosebank Corner-1908

Grazing of beef cattle and the rearing of vealers eventually took over from dairying. The last dairy farm in Rosebank was run by the Stan Heywood and this closed in 1984. Coffee and Macadamia orchards are now the main agricultural pursuit of the area. Today (2012) Rosebank has changed somewhat but remains a peaceful little Hamlet surrounded by rolling lush green hills with an idyllic lifestyle for its farming community. Below is what we have learned about the history of this area,so far.

In 1839 The Border Police became the first law established in nearby Lismore and by 1844 there were 32 mounted police established in the northern districts of NSW. The Border police consisted of convict troopers and Aboriginal trackers who were mounted and armed with cut down muskets. They received no pay but were clothed and housed by the Government. They were responsible for ensuring that the settlers, squatters and cedar cutters paid their licenses and tried to prevent the unrest between Aboriginals and the settlers. When foot police took over in 1847 the Border Police was abolished. An officially gazetted police force was not established until 1862.

Early Timber Cutters & Prospectors

Early Timber Cutters clearing the Big Scrub by hand

In the 1840s early cedar getters and squatters were being attracted to the areas creeklines in search of Red Cedar which was known as Red Gold. The cedar was prized for furniture making and in great demand. Gold fossicking also attracted prospectors and squatters to the creeks. These early men were considered to be “The Men who blazed the track”.

In 1843 timber cutter camps were set up at Bexhill (Bald Hill) and Terania and these cutters were the advancement of settlement in Rosebank. The camp at Bald Hill provided access to Coopers, Boomerang, Little Dan & Little Coopers Creeks. From historical records it seems the early timber cutters were a very hard working mob who set about to clear the rainforests and brush that once covered our foothills. By 1861, 90% of the great rainforests known as the Big Scrub had been cut down, burnt out and destroyed, all in a very short space of time and by the 1890’s the only rainforests which remained were in the more inaccessible areas.

Big Scrub

A quote from Clement Hodgkinson, a private surveyor working for the Government in the late 1830s:

“I must here make a digression to attempt to convey to the reader some idea of the very peculiar appearance of that kind of vegetation to which the colonists have assigned the unmeaning name of brush. It grows on the richest alluvial land, and consists of trees of almost endless variety, and very large dimensions, totally differing in appearance from the ordinary Eucalypti and Casuarinae, which grow in the common open forests of Australia, for the brush trees in general possess a rich umbrageous foliage of bright shining green. The peculiar appearance of the brush is principally caused by the countless species of creepers, wild vines and parasitical plants of singular conformation, which, interlaced and entwined in inextricable confusion, bind and weave together the trees almost to their summits, and hang in rich elegant flowering festoons from the highest branches. The luxuriant and vigorous character of the brush, on alluvial land, in the northern part of the territory of New South Wales, cannot be surpassed in any tropical region.”

Large Red Cedar-Red Gold

Giant rainforest Figs of the Big Scrub

It has been recorded that the early settlers children, would often spend a lot of time playing on the edges of the rainforest and amongst the rainforest tree vines in the big figs. The kids called these vines their monkey ropes. As children played in the shadows of the Big Scrub they would amuse themselves with the native flora and fauna, collecting yams, blackberries, orchids, stags, elkhorns and mushrooms and watching the bower birds and lyrebirds sing and dance. Fishing for perch, catfish and cod in the creeks was a great pastime. Another favourite pastime was the collection of bird eggs known as “bird egging”.

A.A. Leycester was an early adventurer who seems to have spent a lot of time exploring and admiring the natural beauty of this area in its pristine years. For many years he collected specimens of birds, animals, reptiles and insects which he sent to London and the continental museums. He claimed to have discovered the Richmond River Lyrebird (Menura Alberta — now known as the Albert’s Lyrebird) However the acclaimed naturalist Gould is credited with the discovery of the Lyrebird in 1842.

Early Selectors & Settlers

The initial timber-cutters built rough slab and bark huts to work from. They were not permanent as they did not own the land. Frogmouth fireplaces were a common feature of these early bush huts. Cudgerie slabs were preferred for walls and the shingle roof was the norm. Hessian lined the interior walls and roof which were often lime washed. Earthen floors were common. Cutters arrived with axes, brushooks, a shotgun, clothes, food and bedding, a camp oven and a billy. Supplies had to be acquired from Lismore so it made it very tempting to eat the local bushtucker. Wompoo and Wonga Pigeons were considered to be the best eating of all the pigeons.

Manual labour to clear the scrub was undertaken initially with brush hooks to knock down the entangled vines before timber could be felled and the whole area fired (burnt).The early timber cutters usually worked in pairs with single bladed axes. Cross-cut saws were often used to finish the cut. Timber mauls were used to hammer wedges into the cut to stop the saws from jamming. Once felled the tree was cut into 8–12 foot(2.4–3.6m) lengths before being squared. Logs were squared by cutting off a flitch from each side so as to prevent them from rolling around on board the ships during transportation. A marking hammer was hit into the ends of each log to brand them with the cutters initials before they were hauled off by bullock teams. Logs were then either floated by river to Lismore after torrential rain or hauled by bullocks to Bexhill or Mullumbimby.

Early Slab Huts

On the steeper slopes another method was employed to remove the scrub. A large ‘Drive tree’ was selected upslope and all the main trees downslope of it were partially cut. The drive tree was then felled creating a domino effect and thus saving time in cutting each individual tree. It was said that the noise of the falling trees was an amazing sound to bear witness to.

1852–73 A ‘queer fellow’ was reported to be living a wild nomadic lifestyle on the Nightcap ranges and its creeks. He called himself the ‘Mountain Cat’. The Aboriginals called him “Minnog” — which means ‘a crazy fella’. He was John McGregor (Scottish Jock) a prospector. In 1873 he was 60yrs old and lived on bandicoots and pademelons, yams and roots. His hair was yellow and in knotted tresses to his shoulders.

In the 1860’s the increase in growth to the area saw many further impacts effect the natural environment with the introduction of exotic crops, animals, pets, weeds.

Rosebank Rifle Club

In 1861 The Robertson Land Act was passed in NSW allowing free selection of blocks with a deposit of 25%. Full payment was required within 3 yrs and conditional requirements meant blocks were to be cleared and occupied with improvements. Failure to meet the conditions meant forfeiting the land. Dairying became our major industry following free selection and it was generally known that “a good farm was a cleared farm.” Competition for pastures was not compatible with the natural environment and as pigs, poultry, calves, home gardens and new crops/pastures were introduced the native wildlife became unwelcome quests. Pademelon, quolls, dingo and goanna were hunted and they retreated to the remaining forested patches in the mountains for their survival.

As pademelons were common, trapping of pademelons and wallabies provided an income for the children who received 2 or 3 pence for each scalp from the local police officer. It is amazing to think that these animals, some of which are endangered today, were seen in their hundreds emerging from the Big Scrub at dusk. They were seen as pests in those early days as they would eat out newly planted crops of maize and vegetables. Organised pademelon hunts were also common place. Today, thanks to the care and effort of voluntary wildlife groups the pademelon and wallaby populations of the area have re-established.

Early Pioneers memorial at
Rummery Park campground

James James the early
mailman outside his home

Pademelons were not the only animals that were hunted almost to extinction locally. Winnie Davidson recollects that “sometimes men would come with bags wanting to get a koala but Grandfather would tell them they were protected”. Luckily the Koala has survived and can still be seen on the farms around Rosebank. Today of course they are protected, but due to their greatly reduced habitat they suffer from such stress related diseases as chlamydia and retrovirus. Landcare groups and lifestyle farmers have been responsible for the successful reforestation of many of the local farms in an effort to provide improved wildlife corridors for the endangered species of our area.

The Mail and The Historic Nightcap Track The need for a direct mail route from Lismore to the Tweed led Edmund Coleman, John McLeod, Jas Black and John Hindmarsh on a 10 day search to find a suitable track over the Nightcap Range.

In 1871 surveyors identified a track over Nightcap Range to link Lismore with Murwillumbah that allowed cedar getters access to previously isolated forest.

In 1873, the Commissioner and Engineer for Roads, Mr W. Bennett, organised a party to inspect the route that had been found and begin its construction. It was named the Old Tweed Road or the Nightcap Track. The Nightcap was named as a corruption of the Night Camp that was used by the District Surveyor. Soon after its opening a telephone line was also erected which provided the first telecommunications link between the Richmond and Tweed Valleys. In 1875 Alex C. Simpson was awarded the first contract and twice weekly he would traverse the Nightcap Track. He was followed by James Graham (once weekly) in 1876, in 1877 James Cox, in 1879 Charles Burry and in 1882–87 James E James known locally as Jimmy Jimmy or Jimmy Two Times, secured the weekly mail contract. James was taking the post by originally by horse and then by a horse drawn wagonette over the Range three times a week. From 1888–89 Samuel Beardow was the last mailman. After this the Nightcap mail track was discontinued and mail was then taken by horse coach from Lismore via Brunswick Heads. A section of this historic Nightcap Track is preserved today as The Historic Nightcap Track Walking Trail.

In the late 1870s & early 1880s as cedar getting became scarce in the Richmond Valley the timber cutters then turned their attention to the natural stands of Hoop Pine and rarer timbers. The timber industry began moving onto the foothills of the Nightcap around Rosebank and the remaining inaccessible parts of the Big Scrub was felled. During this era most of the old growth eucalypts on the ridgetops were left untouched as the timber cutters were mainly interested in the red cedar. The giants eucalypts of the Whian Whian were logged much later, initially by the selector Hepburn and his sons.

The First Selectors

Alfred Slade newspaper clipping from the Northern Star published in the VJ

In 1879 Alfred Slade was reported as finding his way to Rosebank through the scrub from Lismore with a compass and eventually settled where the school stands today however in 1884 Peter Williams was accredited with being Rosebank’s first selector. He selected ‘Rosewood’ a 204.5 acre block just east of the Rosebank Store. Other reports indicate that the cedar getters also arrived at Repentance Creek from Goonengerry & Mullumbimby in 1886.

Rosebank’s Early Selectors for the period 1884–94 include;

  • Rosebank Rd; John Staggs, Mathew Arthur, J Morris, Peter Williams, Alfred Slade, James Armstrong, John Elliott, Joe Fellows, Moses King, Tom & Ebb Elliott (the Elliot Brothers), W.H. Lever, W. Maher.
  • Fox Rd; Alex Quirk, John Schultz, Fred Morris, John Hicks,Thomas McKenzie.
  • Emerson & Ridgewood Rds; James Emerson, George Hindmarsh.
  • Dunoon Rd;
  • Repentance Creek & Upper Coopers Creek Localities; George Quirk, Frank Ryder, John Martin, Ernie Crofton, John Robbins, Thomas Wood, Keith Hepburn, Tom English.

Stone walls can still be seen around Rosebank

As the area was cleared by the early selectors many new settlers were attracted to the area to establish dairy farms and a network of small villages began to emerge. It seems some of the early settlers were migratory, as they came to the area as tenant farmers or as share farmers working for the original selectors. This is when many of the old stone fences were built in the area as the paddocks were cleared for farming. Many homes were then built around Rosebank and several pioneering families were emerging.

Timber cut by the Selectors was used for various uses around the farms and included; Beach, Teak, Cudgerie & Rosewood which were saved for building, Teak was also used for fence posts and open fireplaces & laundry coppers as it was a fast burner, Blackbean for post & rails and as firewood for the fuel stoves as it was a slow burner

Some Teak trees were left on the farms as individual specimen trees due to their aesthetic qualities.

From the late 1800’s the chief industry was dairying. Creameries were set up at the Old Armstrong Homestead and on many smaller landholdings. Beef and sheep farms had also entered the market.

1887 Gold Nuggets were found in Little Rocky Creek and it was proclaimed a goldfield.

In 1888 Peter Williams’ daughter accepted the job as the first postmistress and asked that the Post Office be named Rosebank. In those early days Rosebank and Corndale were both known as Upper Coopers Creek. The first PO was located in the residence opposite of where the Rosebank Shop is now sited. Much later in 1915 the Northern Star commented on the naming of Rosebank “ Perhaps no other centre throughout the Richmond River district is so appropraitely named. Its appellation is certainly warrented, and its is a garden of roses in our midst. Roads appear to intersect the main hwy (Rosebank Rd) at every few hundred yards. It is a little centre, which radiates its chars over a beautiful stretch of country. Cottages and farms are dotted all over the landscape as far as the eye can see. The homesteads are invariably enclosed by substancial fences and in many instances neatly constructed stone wall boundaries are noticed. ”

Painting of the Armstrong Homestead at Oakleigh

The Armstrong Homestead-Oakleigh

Armstrong Residence-Turkey Creek Rising

Another Armstrong Homestead-Hill View

Armstrong Residence-Hillcrest

Hand milking in the early days
Photo courtesy of the VJ

Vegetable growing
Photo courtesy of the Tickle family

Rosebank Public School

Rosebank School and walkway

Rosebank School gardens

Rosebank school lunch tables shaded by the large old Camphor

Banana growing
Photo courtesy of the Tickle family

Rosebank Public Hall

In 1889 James Armstrong moved to Rosebank with his wife and four children. Five more children were born in Rosebank. James purchased Oakleigh (300 acres) at 195 Rosebank Rd from the original selector Mathew Arthur. He added another 200 acres to his estate which he purchased from the original selector W.H. Maher & another 400acres from the original selector E.J Crofton. The property at Oakleigh became the home of his son Charles and later belonged to Shirley Armstrong. After Shirley died in 2004 the property was sold out of the family to Elizabeth & Alan Greet in 2005.

Armstrong Cottage - The Gorge

Armstrong Cottage - Brinworth

The Armstrong Family were noted as promoting community pride and when James and his wife left the area in 1907 they were presented with a plaque as a gift from the Rosebank community for their kindness and stirling worth.

James Armstrong was an not only an early settler but also an original selector who cleared several large acreages along Rosebank Road in the vicinity opposite of where the school now stands. James also owned land near Turkey Creek and later donated land to the Rosebank Hall. The Armstrong Family went on to purchase many other properties around Rosebank, including ‘Hillcrest’ at 185 acres on Brynes Rd which later became their son’s William (Bill) G Armstrong. William also owned the land opposite his brother Tom in Lychee Drive where Ironbark Wildflowers is now located. Tom owned the farm opposite the school at 325 Rosebank Rd, Charlie’s home was Oakleigh at195 Rosebank Rd where the magnificent old Armstrong Homestead still remains. It is thought that James Armstrong’s original cottage was believed to have been built down near Yankee Creek at 265 Rosebank Rd where a macadamia orchard now stands. Here he built a mill and a dairy. The old cottage was refurbished much later on in the early 2000s.

Another Armstrong property was ‘Brinworth’ (100 acres) was also purchased and finally went to Ken Armstrong, who was William Armstrong’s son or nephew. This still requires clarification so if you know please let us know so that this can be recorded correctly.

The ‘Gorge’ on Dunoon Rd was shared farmed with the Armstrong’s by Allan Brooks. This property is now owned by Jan Upton.

‘Turkey Creek Rises’ (115 acres) at 126 Repentance Creek Rd bordering Turkey Ck had John L Sellick as a tenant farmer for the Armstrong’s and

‘Hillview’ (114 acres) was also tenanted to Parameter & his son.

James Armstrong & his son William (Bill) were noted to have walked their racehorses over the Nightcap Range in the late 1800’s, to win the Brisbane Cup with their horse “Sirus”. James was also noted as the first chairman of the Byron Bay Butter Factory in 1894.

1890 a Diptheria epidemic swept the district.

In 1891 The area for the Rocky Creek Dam site & its catchment were proclaimed a water reserve.

In 1891 The Rosebank School was built. The children who had horses would ride to school and pick up their friends along the way. It was important for those who were walking to be home well before the shadows fell as this was when the dingoes would emerge from the forests.

Rosebank Public School History

Rosebank PS is a delightful little school set in a beautifully treed 2 acre landscape. It provides a great environment to teach the local kids of the area. Rosebank PS put together a charming booklet for their Centenary which gives the history of the school. It is available from their library and is a great read if you are interested in local history. Below are a few extracts from it.

The following is a list of teachers from the inception of the school to the present day:

1891 Emily Cooke, 1924 Bruce Duncan, 1892 Jacob Mortimer, 1926 Hugh Neal, 1895 Francis Griffin, 1928 John Buckley, 1897 Emily Neyle, 1939 Arthur Cains, 1907 Percy Peard, 1943 John O’Neill, 1911 Percy Gilbert, 1948 Reginald Cartaar, 1912 Edward Mallett, 1951 Samuel Ellyard, 1917 Dorothy Kneipp, 1954 Fred Thompson, 1918 William Haug, 1959 Desmond Farrell, May Hughs, Richard Fuller, Ray Crane & 2011 Mark Scollon

The organising committee for the erection of a school building in 1891 was James Armstrong, Geo. Hindmarsh, John Staggs, Wally Rushforth and John Emerson. Their efforts resulted in a school building being erected, on Lot 116, purchased from John Staggs, and functioning under Emily Cooke in 1891. It was a 2Oft. by 12ft. (6m x 3.6m) building and opened with thirteen children. The builder was Thomas Loft. At the end of the century a weather shed was added on the western end, carpenters being Foster and Jackson. Just after the century the building was enlarged by Alex Duncan and Les Gaggin.

The enrolment reached its peak in the years 1900–1907, when at one stage 60 children were enrolled. At the close of World War II, an assistant teacher was appointed, the school having two teachers until 1957.

Petitions from local people started in 1947 for a new school building, which was constructed of two rooms in 1950, the official opening taking place on the 9th March, 1951. The contractor was Harry Cave. In 1952, a weather shed was suggested, and with departmental timber and voluntary labour, it was completed in 1954.

Two fig trees of different varieties were planted in an old bean stump by James Armstrong and Bob King on the southern side of the school in 1892. They now make one rather majestic tree.

Camphors were also planted in the school grounds as shade trees. A large old specimen still remains today.



In 1896 The first steam powered cream separating station was set up in Rosebank opposite the school. Before this cream was separated with a hand separator. Cream was then sent to the butter factory in 6 or 10 gal cans to be made into butter. Horse drawn carts would deliver it to Bexhill, then the cans were loaded onto the train on route to the Norco Factory in Byron Bay. Dick Crisp became one of the first cream carriers to Bexhill until Norco built the buttery in Corndale to service the Rosebank area.

The first manager of the new separating station was Alfred Smith followed by Earnest Smith and finally Alex Gibson. The milk from approximately 15 local suppliers was separated from the cream at the factory and the cream was transported by horse wagon to Bexhill Station on route to the Byron Bay Factory. The separating station was later closed in 1902. The local suppliers included; James Armstrong (2 dairies), Alfred Slade, James Emerson, Peter Williams, John Staggs, The Henderson Bros, Thomas Nolan, Edward Moses, Christopher Fraser, Charles Stewart, John Want, Eugene Cawley, & Joseph Tindall.

From 1890–96 The 620 acres of land that had been dedicated and preserved from selection was opened up, cleared and burnt. The scrub reserve originally ran across Rosebank between Coopers and Boomerang Creeks. Another 200 acres joined it both north and south along Coopers Creek and this land was regularly used by the locals for picnics in the bush. The remaining remnants of the reserve was further reduced to 53 acres and then cut up as soldiers settlements after the war. Alfred Mortimer gained 94 acres of this reserve to the east of Coopers Creek.

In 1897–98 The Rosebank Public Hall was built on land donated by James Armstrong.

In 1898 A Sawmill was built by Duncan & William Campbell and was later sold to Alexander Duncan in 1904 who sold it again in 1908 when it was relocated to Dorrigo. I am unsure where this mill was located so any feedback would be grateful.

1899 200 pademelons were shot in one shoot and another 7 weeks later another 40 were shot in Eureka.

In 1901 Paspalum grass was introduced to the area as the native grasses such as Kangaroo Grass, Foxtail and Couch were unsuitable for the dairy production. Paspalum had the potential to compete with the vigorous weed growth in the cleared Big Scrub areas. In 1906 ki kuya grass, native to South Africa was also introduced.

1902 Bushfires — dead animals in creeks affect drinking water.

1902 Shooting season opens on Feb 1st for game including wild duck, curlew, plover, pigeons, doves, scrub turkey etc. Open season for quail is May11–Sept 14th. Locals started worrying as game is being entirely wiped out. Two teenage brothers were reported as shooting Koalas in the Whian Whian nearly to the point of extinction.

The original Post Office and General Store

One of the original Butcher Shops

The original Butcher Shop as iit stands today at Rosebank corner

The original Blacksmith Shop as it stands today at Rosebank corner

1903 The first Rosebank General Store was owned and opened by Thomas Cross. Following shop owner operators included Gerad Noble, W Sendon, SE Vidler, J Wiltshire, JF Sheridan, W Anderson, Jack Wright, Mossie Brandie & Co, Arthur Lane & TR (Roy) Exton in 1957. Roy also took on the role of postmaster when the post office moved across the road from the original Post Office site at the Mann residence. More recent owners of the store included Julie & Mick Beason, who leased the shop to Lois Vickery-Hall, Glen & Mark Dark, Peter & Gail and the Rosebank Coop. The Rosbank Shop closed in 2011 after Micks death.

1903 also saw the first Butcher Shop open in Rosebank by VD Evans and later operated by HL Saville, Elliott & Dawes, TG Toy, AC Chittock, LM Funnell, J Wright, Robbins & Turner, Paddy & Wally Parkes (brothers), Don A Campbell, DA Campbell Jnr & E & D McQueen were still running it in 1957. Rosebank has had 3 butchers shops over this period, one of which burnt down. The final location of the Butcher Shop saw the Butchers residence built next to it and this current location is opposite the present day Rosebank Shop and is being used as a residence. Meat was originally delivered twice weekly in a horse drawn butchers cart from the Butcher shop where the meat was slaughtered on site.

The Blacksmith shop was located across from the Rosebank Store next to the butcher shop & its residence. Jack McBride opened the original Blacksmith Shop where he shod horses. Barnie Downy then took over and grew the business to include repairing ploughs and other farm machinery. All of these dwellings can still be seen in Rosebank today, many are now private dwellings.

In 1903 the Blacksmith Shop was also opened on the Rosebank corner next to the Butcher Shop. The first owner was Arundel & Whitehall, followed by C Ahens, W Fowler, B Manning, WJ Cooke, J Paterson, F Graydon, O McBride, Arthur Downie and finally Barney Downie. The Backsmith Shop can still be seen next to the old butcher shop.

1903 was also the year that the telephone service was extended to Rosebank.

Bread was now being delivered three times a week from Clunes.

1903 A cyclone hits Rosebank breaking a 9 yr drought. Drought & rain pattern is 1866–75 plenty of rain over 9yrs , 1876–85 is 10 yrs of drought, 1886–94 rain plentiful over 9yrs, 1895–1903 8yrs of drought.

Early rainfall stats . Courtesy of he Village Journal

The original Repentance Creek Schoolhouse as it stands today

The Methodist Church as it stands today on Rosebank road

1904 Repentance Creek School opened on 1 acre of land donated by Martins on the banks of Coopers Creek opposite the Repentance Creek Hall. It is located at 450 Repentance Ck Rd. The teachers residence was built shortly after on the same acre of land. The old schoolhouse still remains today and is in very good condition under the care of the Gyuto Monks. The church that can be seen on the same parcel of land was moved there from Eltham for use as a dwelling.

1905 The Methodist Church was the first church to be built in Rosebank and was shared with the Presbyterian church goers. It served as the Sunday school and provided many popular community events. By 1908 the congregation had grown and the Trustees considered adding a Vestry.

This church can be seen at 475 Rosebank Road and has now been converted into a private dwelling.

1905 The first of the motor cars arrived. Motorised buggies drawn by draft horses stayed until after World War 2 in 1945.

1908 The Dorroughby Hall was built by volunteer labour on land donated by Robert Arthur of “Glenview”.

In 1910 a Corroboree was held at the Modanville Aboriginal settlement.

Along with settlement and logging came the increase in bushfire to the area. In 1911, newly felled scrub caught fire at Koonorigan near the Channon and again in 1913 a huge sawdust heap caused another large bushfire. In 1926 The Channon and Terania Creek were seriously affected by the disastrous north coast bushfires which according to the Northern Star “swept over hundreds of acres of partially timbered country”. In 1948 a large fire burnt out the Nightcap Range and Terania Creek. No major fires have occurred in Rosebank since then.

The last bullock Team load from Repentance Creek delivered to Mullumbimby

W.B Hephburns' logging lorry

The Hephburns' motor lorry fully laden

The Hephburns' logging tractor
purchased in the 1920's

Giant logs at the Hephburns

Rummery Park logging in the Whian whian SF

In 1910 Timber cutters were still working on the Nightcap Range and the last loads of red cedar hauled by bullock teams were taken to Mullumbimby. The teams belonged to Buckland and John O’Neil and the logs were cut from Coopers Creek.

During 1910–20 Normal birth in Lismore Hospital was provided. Before this birth was normally at home with the help of a midwife or nurse.

In 1914 The Whian Whian was declared a State Forest and in the 1920’s a plant nursery was built at Rummery Park (then Boggy Creek Workers Camp). Ancillary buildings built included stores & maintenance sheds, cooking galley, pump house, toilets, 2 cold showers and a ramp for servicing vehicles. All were painted in State Forest green.

1914 The Gallipoli War

1915 W.B .Hepburn, an original selector, and his son Keith were hauling cedar logs from the Whian Whian with their bullock team. They owned 26–30 bullocks for their hauling operations. Logs would be brought back the family home ‘Kilmanock’ on the Minyon Rd, above Repentance Ck to their depot. To do this they would travel along the narrow ridgeline just east of Minyon Falls. They called this ridge the Razorback. Mr Hepburn & Keith were the first to log the old growth giants of these ridge tops around Minyon Falls, Snows Gully, Rummery Park and the Minyon Break area. The Hepburn’s purchased their first tractor for logging in the 1920’s. From their depot the logs were cut and taken to town in their new motor lorry which was purchased around 1925. The timbers they sought included; teak, bean, scrub ironbark, bean ebony, sasafras, blue fig, elm gum, rosewood, white & yellow stringy, tallowwood, turpentine, bloodwood, carrabeen & lillypilli. The bloodwood and tallowwood were cut to use as posts in post and rail fencing, while blackbutt was cut for the rails. The big hollow logs found opposite Rummery Park were cut into sleepers and telephone poles were cut from stringy bark, tallowwood and bloodwood. The Rainforest around Minyon was logged for blackapple which was used to make banana cases and Blackbean was logged from Repentance Ck for veneer. After 1936 the Hepburn’s logged turpentine on Blue Fig Rd for use in the piles and posts at the Byron Bay Jetty. They also logged the Lost Valley near Peates Mtn for the giant brushbox and blackbutts. When still using their bullock team, the Hepburn’s made a snigging track into the Minyon Valley to haul out one giant red cedar tree that was worth 100 pounds. Quite a find considering the basic weekly wage was 4 pounds. Keith Hepburn stopped logging in the 1950’s. Another large blackbutt that was felled took 3 trucks to move the log to the depot.

Doug (Keith’s younger brother) and Marcia Hepburn ran the Telephone exchange from The Hepburn Homestead for the Repentance and Upper Coopers Creek areas. They opened the exchange after each mornings milking had been done. Doug would also lead tourists to the base of Minyon Falls sometimes doing 3 trips on a Sunday for which he charged 50c.

Fox/Maso Road Selectors

Fox Rd was home to several original selectors who worked in timber for many years and started some of the original timber mills and dairies. Some of these early selectors included the Morris Family at 103 Fox Road. Morris was Stan Heywood’s Grandfather and after clearing the land he built a slab hut and began dairying. Later the farm was sold to the Snape Family who became renown timber getters.They built a mill on their farm near Boomerang Creek and later purchased Duck’s Mill in the Whian Whian. They would travel along Baldwin & Telephone Rds to reach the Duck’s Mill. In those days these roads were called Sawmill Road and the Minyon Scenic Dr (Nightcap Range Rd) was called The Old Tweed Road.

The Quirk Mill

The Quirk's logging truck-The Blitz

Joe Quirk-aged 21

The original horse & buggy
mail service at Clunes

The original cooking galley
at Rummery Park
Photo: NPSW

Alex Quirk was also an original selector. His son Joe Quirk & his wife Virginia were keen timber getters and they also built a sawmill which was used for the production of banana cases, mainly cut from blackbutts. Joe also worked as a carpenter and built a tennis court on what is now known as Maso Road. Darrell Quirk, Joe’s son, also became well known as a timber getter and was licensed to cut poles from the State Forest. He was well known for his blitz lorry that he used to haul logs and supply many homes with building materials that he milled. Darrell became the Rosebank fire captain for 14yrs but was a volunteer in the fire brigade for 28yrs. His wile Elaine was also a member and was deputy captain for 8 yrs. Their sons Mark, Scott & Steven were also members of the brigade.

Darrell Quirk and Paul Snape had contracts to remove reject timber from the Whian Whian and assisted logging on many private properties. They were the last known loggers of the area. Darrell & Paul both used Duck’s Mill. Paul Snape stayed in Rosebank all of life and died in 2004.

Another family member and selector, George Quirk had a farm on Repentance Creek Road and was the first to have a wireless (radio) in the Rosebank area. The Quirk homestead is located where Tuckeroo Temple stands today and the original bails are located next door.

Jack Schultz & his sons Lou & Fred were also early selectors on Fox Road along with Don Campbell. A case mill for bananas was built on the Campbell’s farm when they sold it to Harry Baldwin & his sons Earl & Jack. Relics of the old mill can still be seen on the side of the road today. This part of Fox Road was later named Baldwins Road. The Baldwin Family later sold to the Reeve Family who named the farm ‘Reeveer Park.’ They are reputed as having planted 156,000 native trees and the property is now a Wildlife Refuge.

Another early settler on Maso Road was Tom Patterson who sold to Charlie Fox (hence the road name). Charlie grew bananas. Bananas flourished in the Rosebank area for some time after as more farmers planted the crop.

Jack & Olive Matthews were not selectors but were early settlers who built their home at the end of Fox Rd (now Baldwins Rd) in 1946. They have relatives who established quite large estates nearby. Frank Matthews has written his memoirs of Rosebank which includes a map of where the early settlers lived.

Nearby but back on Repentance Creek Road Tom Restall lived with his family in a small cottage. Tom was a well known ‘hauler’ and owned a team of bullocks which he put to use in the timber industry.

1917 saw the establishment of the first Forestry Commission of NSW, but it was not until the 1940s that new improved mechanical logging systems and improved transport, that major timber harvesting began again.

1920’s Boom on property prices and many of the pioneering dairy families seize the opportunity to sell out.

In 1922 The Old mail service which was delivered by horse and buggy was replaced and delivered by car. This service was known as the ‘motor mail’ and was delivered by Cecil Prestell followed by W Collins, Arthur Latimer, Bert Pollock, Wilbur Smith & Jack Gibson. Our current Postie is Didier Marceau.

The original horse and buggy mail men included William Locton, Harry Crisp, David Rankin, Charlie Williams & Walter Boyd.

Repentance Creek naming: The is a bit of a mystery as to how Repentance Creek was named as there appears to be several ideas. The first story tells how an early bullock team went over the edge of the Razorback Ridge on Minyon Rd and the hauler repented at having lost his bullocks,

The second story tells of another bullocky who managed to get his bullock wagon bogged in the creek. He lost his temper and flogged his bullock team and after repented as having done so.

A third story tells how in the early days a timber cutter branded his logs of red cedar and left them piled on the creek bank waiting for flooding rains. Another cutter sawed off the ends of the logs and put his own brand on them and then rolled them into the creek for floating to the Lismore mills. A dispute arose where the initial timber cutter told the cheeky thief that he should repent his actions.

Regardless of which story you prefer the name of the creek was called Repentance Creek as there appeared to have been a lot of repenting going on at that time.

The original Repentance creek crossing was well known as hazardous until a causeway was put in. It was replaced by the existing concrete culvert when the Repentance Ck Rd was re-aligned in approximately 1965. Originally it ran around the other side of the hall. The Repentance Ck Rd was not sealed until around 1975 and Upper Coopers Ck Rd/Minyon Rd didn’t receive a sealed surface until around 1982.

Repentance Creek Public Hall sign

The original Repentance Creek Hall
Photo By Bev & Bruce Stewart

Repentance Creek Hall

The hall as it stands today

In 1923, land for the Repentance Creek Hall was donated by S & H Martin and fundraising commenced to raise money to build the hall, this included dances that were held in the barn of J. Robbins. During the 1930’s enough funds had been raised to pay Shipman & Wills 500 pound to commence construction of the hall. The floors were built out of teak and the stage was lined with rosewood. Volunteers were there to help. The Hall became a very popular venue for events such as euchra tournaments, fancy dress dances, the social balls, juvenile balls, physical culture classes, games nights, TV nights, cordial & biscuit sales, indoor bowls, table tennis, bazaars, New Years Night celebrations and the annual spring fair which saw the judging of produce, including vegetables, flowers, breads, jellies, fruit cake, boiled eggs, pickled pork, cakes and poultry. In later years the hall held such events as the 2 Big Scrub Festivals, the Tropical Fruits Festival, monthly dinners, yoga, judo, hapkido, spinning & weaving classes, private functions, kids movie nights and The Minyon Market Bread & Barter Fair. The Hall was also used as a polling booth and by the Church of England’s Women’s Guild, The Ladies Auxiliary and in later years the pre-school on 3 days/week. The Hall has had many improvements over the years including a supper room (kitchen), disabled access ramp, verandahs, fencing, paving and landscaping. The hall piano was also a great asset and it seemed everyone enjoyed functions in the Hall, especially as many early settlers rode their horses to attend the functions. The Hall committee were also very active in lobbying the Councils about the road conditions.

In 1924 The Repentance Creek Tennis Club formed with approximately 24 members who decided their club colours would be red & white. Joe Quirk was elected the first president and Mr Francis volunteered to level the court with his 2 draft horses. The court was located below Repentance Ck Hall and leased from W.H. Martin for 10 shillings per year. Ladies paid 5 shillings to join while the gentlemen paid 10 shillings. School children had free access on school days and the rule was that no one was allowed to play on the court with boots on. The last meeting for the Tennis Club was held in 1972, after many years of providing entertainment to the community with basket picnics, socials, raffles, competitions and tennis tournaments.

Tennis was very fashionable in those early years. Other Courts were located at Rosebank, The Armstrongs Homestead and 2 were located along Fox Rd. The Quirks built a court along Maso Rd and another was built at Reeveer Park by the Baldwins. Another was located at a property on Johnstons Ck along Mackie Rd.

1925 Minyon Falls was becoming a popular tourist destination. Tourists would travel in horse and sulky or pushbike to reach the spectacular Falls where ocean views could be glimsed.

In 1927 Some pockets of the land were still being cleared using axes and cross-cut saws and bullock teams were still in use. After clearing, the land was often left for 6 months then burnt off so that it could be turned by hand using mattocks. Bananas were also being planted.

Early days
Photo courtesy of the Tickle family

Dairy droving
Photo courtesy of the Tickle family

The 1930s were the years of the Depression when there was not a lot of money around. Large numbers of unemployed were called in to plant in the Whian Whian State Forest.

Farming provided the main income through butter which was 6 pence per pound and bacon pigs weighing 100lbs fetched 3 pounds. Pigs were taken to Bexhill for loading on the train to Byron Bay. Times were hard. Dairy farms needing extra income asked many of their children to leave school early to help out with the family income. Milking was still done by hand. To make things worse soil fertility was declining rapidly.

Cricket became popular.

Date Unknown; The Manchester Unity independent Order of Oldfellows (MUIOOF) formed to help the needy and unemployed. The MUIOOF still operates today in the Uniting Church Hall in east Lismore where funds are raised for such charities as The Westpac Rescue Helicopter, The Life Education Bus and the Children’s Heart Foundation. Books and a most improved trophy are also donated to Rosebank PS.

In the 1930s The Rosebank Cricket Pitch (known as the Peter Craig Oval) was located in the field adjacent to Yankee Ck on the farm diagonally opposite the school in Armstrong Road. The farm was originally owned by Art Smith. Also during the 1930’s the Juniors Farmers Club was holding very successful annual shows at Rosebank Hall. Children showed cattle, pigs, vegetables, flowers, needlework, cooking etc.

1935–45 World War 2. During the late war years a school bus run commenced along Ridgewood Road.

In 1935 Cane Toads were introduced to Cairns from Hawaii to eat the greyback cane beetle that was destroying sugar cane crops. In 1936 , 41,800 baby toads were released and by the 1970s they had reached our region. The cane toad is now responsible for killing our native species with the exception of the saw-shell turtle which has emerged as its only known predator.

Of interest is that more than 2700 exotic plants have been introduced into Australia in the last 200 odd years & 100’s of exotic animals. Some 31% of declared noxious weeds were introduced as garden ornamentals.

In 1936 Repentance Creek Public Hall Inc was officially opened by Mr W Frith and 400 people attended the opening ball. Located on the Repentance Creek Road on the banks of Repentance Creek, this pretty village hall was partly built by public subscription and the hard work of the early landowners. Sunday services were held here along with the annual August Fair and regular Eucha tournaments. The Ladies Auxillary formed in 1944 to help fundraise through raffles, concert parties, Hall balls, bizarres, dance & cinema nights, and regular suppers. The hall members were a very close community and made their own fun through regular social gatherings and working bees The Hall members also lobbied both Councils re the condition of the roads . Today the Hall is still operating and can be hired for events and functions.

The official opening oft he Nightcap rRange as a National forest

Cars heading up to Minyon Falls for the official opening of the Nightcap Range

The Roman Catholic Church as it stands today on Rosebank road

In 1936, 12,000 ha of rainforest on the Nightcap Range was dedicated as a National Forest with State Forests, the second such forest notified under the amended Forestry Act of 1935. However National Forests were designed to produce timber as well as protect watersheds, develop recreational values, conserve wildlife and utilise incidental grazing. An empty gesture that did not see the Nightcap Range protected and clear felling for banana plantations continued for some time following. By the 1940’s the Whian Whian had several working timber mills. However the Nightcap was becoming a popular tourist destination and it was officially opened by Mr RS Vincent with a ceremony of some 400 people at the top of Minyon Falls in 1936. It must have looked quite a sight as hundresd of cars made their way up the old dirt track to Minyon Falls.

In the 1937 (approx) the Roman Catholic Church was built on land provided by Alec Quirk opposite his home. This church is located at 500 Rosebank Road and is now a private dwelling. I believe this may also have been close to the original Rosebank tennis courts but more research might shed more light on this.

The community was very proud of Rosebank and its halls, churches and local school and regular working bees ensured these were all kept in good order. The Armstrong Family were great community motivators and organised repairs, painting and landclearing around the local facilities including the local playing fields.

In 1938 Electricity came to Rosebank. The official ‘Switching On’ ceremony took place in Rosebank Hall and Mrs Quirk was invited to turn on the electric light switch

In 1939 The main road (now Rosebank Rd) from Corndale to the Armstrong Homestead was bitumen paved. Eureka Road was gravel, Dorroughby Road had a poor gravel surface & was maintained by a horse drawn grader, Emerson Road was still incomplete and Ridgewood Road was not fully traffic-able.

In 1940’s The Old Tweed Rd was re-opened after 70 years of disuse. Originally surveyed and built in the 1870’s it was re-opened under the guidance of 89 yr old Mr Ambrose Crawford who organised a team of volunteers to clear it. Mr Ambrose’s father helped build the first telegraph line over the track. The track took 12 months to clear before it re-opened. The original Old Tweed Rd followed Rocky Ck Dam Rd to the Nightcap Range Rd and continued along Telephone Rd to Peates Mtn Rd, crossing Boggy Ck near Rummery Park. It then followed Peates Mtn Rd and along the old Gibbergunyah Rd onto the old Nightcap Track which lead over the Range to Doon Doon.

1940 The Upper Coopers Creek Hall was built and financed by the locals on land owned by Vic Kopp. Percy Walters was the assisting carpenter. Upper Coopers Creek School was held in the Hall until 1955 when the Upper Coopers Creek School was established. Before the Hall was built the children travelled to Repentance Ck School. In 1983 the Hall closed when the property was sold and the Hall became a private residence.

Cecil Jones Memorial Cabin built in 1940-41

Cecil C Jones

Cecil C Jones Memorial Plaque

Cecil C Jones Commemorative Stone (see foreground)

1939–45 Rummery Park located on the Nightcap Range, was the campsite of the state forest workforce when working in the surrounding Whian Whian State Forest. After initial logging the workers established the now magnificent blackbutt and flooded gum forests surrounding the camp. These were planted in the period 1939–1945. The plantations were then thinned to make room for the remaining trees to reach maturity and the logs were provided for industry. As part of their work they also built the roads and management trails that protected these fine forests from the ravages of bushfires. Rummery Park cabin and the forestry camp barracks were erected in 1940–41. Today only the Foresters cabin remains as a reminder of the past as the barracks were moved to Mebbin SF. The remaining cabin is now known as the Cecil Jones Memorial Cabin. In 1968 while still under State Forest supervision the cabin was rented to the public for recreation purposes however NPWS no longer hire it out. NPWS have re-built new shelters to reflect the design of the old era buildings which compliment the old cabin. Rummery Park is now an idyllic campground with a long history.

The Historical Cecil C Jones Memorial Cabin

During the late 1940s and early 1941 the Forestry Commission built several cottages in this forest clearing, then known as Boggy Creek Camp. The Cecil C Jones Memorial Cabin is now the last remaining cottage of its kind in the area. This quaint timber cabin is located at Rummery Park camping ground in the Whian Whian State Conservation Area, near Minyon Falls. The beautiful forest cabin has a memorial plaque, located at the front door, which remains as a tribute to the old forester, Cecil Jones who was known as ‘Jonesy’..

Cecil Jones was the Forest Foreman and lived in his Whian Whian cabin in the forest with his wife and four young children. Another cottage was built for VIPs such as the Forester in charge of the Whian Whian, whose name was Tom Rummery. Rummery Park being named in his memory, as it was a special place for him in his early years when he was engaged in survey work on the Nightcap Range. Tom was also a keen rifleman and was promoted to the position of Forestry Inspector. Tom and Cec planted the big kauri pine and the other large pine trees which can still be seen at the camp today. They were both well known for their conservation efforts within Forestry and were said to have known where every giant tree was located. Cec found the Whian Whian forests to be magical, daunting and formidable. After initially working in hardwood forests his interest grew when he was confronted by the rainforests. He soon learnt all the botanical names of the rainforest giants and could identify them by scent and taste. Cec understood the natural affinity between rainforest and rainfall and he spoke about the catastrophic results that could occur if the natural balance was upset by logging. Cec showed Alex Floyd where many of these larger trees were found as he saw the need to protect them and he was honoured with an Imperial Service Medal for his 26yrs of service and conservation within the Forestry Dept.

When Cecil Jones died in 1993, the Forestry Commission had the memorial plaque made with reference to his wife for its wording and placement. The words chosen were 'the bush has friends to meet him and their kindly voices greet him’.The Forestry Commission also gave permission for Cec’s family to spread his ashes at Rummery Park. A standing stone nearby is where Cec’s ashes were spread.

Cec’s children now live in Sydney and Brisbane, but still visit the cabin on regular trips. Chris, Cec’s youngest daughter remembers their forest home in the Whian Whian with fond regards and remembers when her nephew and brother-in-law cemented the memorial plaque into position. Linley, Cec’s oldest daughter said her Dad wrote a book on his time in the forest, called 'To Enjoy the Interval’. This can be found at Lismore’s Historical Society.

Rummery Park Forresters Cabin
as it stands in 2005
( Cecil Jones Memorial cabin)

The memorial cabin was listed in the CRA Heritage Inventory (UNE) and circa flagged in 1998 as having historical significance, as it “demonstrated part of the history of Forestry in NSW, when from the 1920s Forestry workers lived there during the week while working in the surrounding forests.”

The rustic bush cabin is constructed of red mahogany weatherboards with a gable roof and brick chimney and was also nominated as an icon of social significance. It lies on route on the Historic Nightcap Track.

History shows that the area was heavily logged from the 1830s for its stands of highly prized Red Cedar and Hoop Pine.

The inter-war period was the most active period for forestry use of the camp ground. The Peates Mountain Road (now part of the Nightcap Track) was improved during the depression of the 1920s and 1930s. Sleeper cutters who claimed the timber that was unsuitable for milling camped nearby on the other side of Boggy Creek at Rummery Park. The Whian Whian State Forest area was notified as part of the Nightcap National Forest No. 2 in 1936.

The original site included a cooking galley, nursery/picnic shed, utility shed, showers and a foresters hut. The Whian Whian State Conservation Area was created in July 2003 and covers an area of 2,439 hectares. NPWS redeveloped the area in 2004 so as to reflect and retain a similar arrangement of buildings and open space to preserve the aesthetic quality of the old camp site. This included removal of most of the old buildings and construction of a new cooking galley designed to preserve a similar feel to the original galley. The general layout of the camp ground and spatial characteristics has also been preserved.

The forester’s hut is valued by the local community.

The SCA also has a history of conservation interest and was part of landmark campaign to protect the area from logging. Protesters involved in the Whian Whian Blockade wishing to stop the logging also used Rummery Park camping ground as a base camp and contributed to the Whian Whian becoming gazetted as a State Conservation Area under the NPWS Estate in more recent times.

1945 School Bus transport is provided to Lismore.

Flooded Gum forests

Flooded Gum plantations along the scenic drive near Rummery Park

In 1945 The Blackbutt and Flooded Gum plantations were established at Boggy Creek in the then Whian Whian State Forest after the area was logged.

1947 Charlie Stewart and his family purchased their farm at Repentance Creek from the original selector Martin. The farm was bounded by Coopers Creek on 2 sides with Repentance Ck running through it, making it ideal for dairying. Gregg Stewart (Charlie’s son) took on the farm preferring to close the dairy and go into producing cattle. This magnificent property still remains in the family today and is run by Bev & Bruce Stewart (Gregg’s son). The Stewart Family also purchased property on Emerson Rd where Bruce’s brother Doug Stewart now resides with his family.

In 1948 A huge bushfire broke out and burnt out the Nightcap Range & Terania Creek. No one was injured and storms put it out the next day.

In 1948 a Roll of Honour was unveiled to commemorate local service men and women at Repentance Creek Hall.

Cattle Dips — After the second World War ticks became a problem in the area and cattle dips were built by the Dept of Agriculture to combat the problem. Dipping of livestock became compulsory. Many of these dips were located on or near creeklines and the use of arsenic was the general practise. Side effects on both farmers and the water table saw this practise abandoned and dipping was stopped in 1985.

Rocky Creek Dam

Reeveer Park

In 1949 Rocky Creek Dam began construction after being proclaimed as a water reserve in 1891. This original site was formerly known as Bullfrog Creek to the settlers and 6 dairy farms and a sawmill stood where the dam is sited today. The Widjabul people called this area the Creators Country.

1950’s Dairying really went downhill and to make it worse the Health Dept condemned many of the old bails. Many of the farmers were forced into beef cattle, pigs, maize and banana growing to make ends meet and supplement incomes.

1950’s saw the introduction of Kikuyu grass to help the declining dairy industry. It rapidly became the dominant pasture with the aid of super phosphates and nitrogen based fertilisers.

1950 Reeveer Park in Baldwins Road, off Fox Road, becomes the areas first NPWS endorsed Wildlife Refuge. Recognised for the work undertaken by earlier owner Mr Reeve and his family who re-planted over 156,000 native trees on the property.

In 1953 Rocky Creek Dam was completed. A rock fill, clay core, dam that allows a high pressure gravity fed system due to its elevation of 187m. The Dam Wall is 28m ht x 220m long with a capacity of 14,000 ML capacity and a 31kmsq catchment. The Lake area is greater than 200ha

In 1957 The Dorroughby Hall was destroyed by a cyclone and had to be rebuilt.

By 1958 the Dairy industry became uneconomical and collapsed due to over production, declining soil fertility, weeds, an aging population and lack of export markets. Farmers children had to leave the family properties in search of work. The remaining dairy farmers were told to ‘get big or get out’. By this time half of the dairy farmers had already left the industry.

In 1959 1080 poison and baits were introduced to combat rabbits.

By the 1960s tourism was increasing and attracting a new type of settler. Multiple Occupancies (MO’s) were becoming popular.

Armstrong Roadside Reserve now Rosebank Recreation Reserve

Dirangah Rocks

An early Terania Cave poster

In 1960’s The usage of the local Repentance Creek Hall was is decline due to the collapse of the dairying industry.

Repentance Creek School closed due to lack of numbers.

In 1963 Mr and Mrs H.C. Elford donated 1.6 acres of their land (bordering Armstrong Road and straddling Yankee Creek) to the community, with the intention of providing a safe place for the local school children to learn to swim. This became known as Armstrong Roadside Reserve and later changed to The Rosebank Recreation Reserve. For more details and the history of the Reserve refer to nearby attraction in this website.

In 1968 The Lismore Historical Society visits a Doon Doon valley farm located below Dirangah Rocks to inspect 2 cave tunnels resembling lava tubes. Their report indicated that they had silted up. Records also note that the older Aboriginal folk would walk through the mountain in this location while the rest of the tribal members would traverse up and over the mountain.

Caves resembling lava tubes

In 1970 The Terania Creek cave was re-discovered by Noel Warne when searching for a missing plane. The cave measured 14m deep x 5m ht x 45m long. The historic shelter is a ‘djang site’ where young men in the later stages of their initiation where taken to gain strength and perseverance as well as to establish contact with the spirit. It is believed to be a Thulu Place — a strong place of the earth filled with energy and a sacred place which has been sanctified and energised by the Ancestors in the Dreamtime.

The 1970’s saw the introduction of bulk milk collection. Bananas growing declines and the beef industry collapses due to changes in trade and export market conditions. Hobby farmers provide a new demand on land to establish orchards of exotic fruit and crops.

In 1970’s a Mystery Man was known to inhabit the Whian Whian. He was a strange one-legged deaf man with a crutch who would hobble off when approached. Locals were concerned he was a sinister character but quickly realised he was a harmless hermit and he became affectionately known as ‘Peg-Leg’. No one was able to communicate with him as he lead a nocturnal life living in the jungle of the scrub. He lived in the Terania Ck area for about 30 yrs but was found desperately ill and died shortly after in 1985 suffering from old age and exposure.

The Big Scrub Flora Reserve

Boomerang Falls Flora Reserve

Minyon Falls nature Reserve

The Terania Blockade sign at Terania Basin

In 1973 the Aquarius Festival was held in Nimbin attracting 1000’s of ‘hippies’ and ‘alternate seekers’. The organisers sought the permission of the Bundjalung Elders to use their land and 800 indigenous people also attended the Festival. This Festival saw a new wave of settlers move into the area taking up land from the declining dairy industry. The ‘rainbow people’ sought a sustainable existence and brought with them permaculture, organic farming and alternate values and living conditions. Their conservation values started forest protection actions and eventually resulted in the regeneration era of the Big Scrub.

1974–75 A ‘Wave of Change’ occurred in Rosebank as land prices rose when dairy farmers broke up their farms into smaller lots and sold to hobby farmers, lifestyle farmers, retirees and investors. Some dairy farms hung on but the cream industry was now gone. Larger farms were sold off for the macadamia orchards. Macadamia orchards were planted and large dams were constructed on creeklines to trickle irrigate this crop. Macadamia production spread from Dunoon where the crop was pioneered.

1975–80 Bruce Stewart was employed to mow all the firetrails within the Whian Whian. His favourite tree was the large flooded gum found on Rummery Rd Management Trail. It still remains today. Bruce also enjoyed the scenery along Blue Fig Management Trail with its magnificent large trees.

In 1975 — 21 ha of the Andrew Johnston Big Scrub remnant located near Beacom Rd was declared a protected area by NPWS.

In 1976 — 196ha of the Big Scrub Flora Reserve on Gibbergunyah Rd was declared a protected area by NPWS.

In 1977 the Northern Star reported an unusual occurrence in Dorroughby. Behind Dorroughby School (now The Dorroughby Environment Centre) is a high point thought to have been an old volcanic vent from 1000’s of years ago. “A long deep crater at the summit was considered to be a death trap due to its great depth. Early settlers Robert Simes & JH Armstrong blocked the hole off with rock assisted by the early german settler Carl Stonehaus.”

In 1977–81 ‘Rainbow Guy’ began the construction of the iconic Rainbow Temple. On its completion the Temple resembled a 4 storey pagoda painted in the colours of the rainbow. The design of the Temple was based on the ancient Star of David and it was built as a meeting place for all people from all walks of life, It is considered a place of healing and inspiration.

In 1978 Boomeramg Falls Flora Reserve was protected in the NPWS Estate as FR No 79999. In1987 it was renumbered as FR No 38 an additional 500m sq was added, followed by a further extension of the area to a total of 9,000m sq.

In 1979 112ha of Minyon Falls Nature Reserve No 27 was declared a protected area by NPWS. This reserve includes Snows Gully Nature Reserve No 38

The total remaining area of the Big Scrub remnants is now only 700 ha in size.

In 1979 The Terania Native Forest Action Group was formed to protect the area from further logging the unique rainforest in the Terania Basin. After initial unsuccessful protests the group decided to peacefully obstruct the logging operations. The Terania Blockade saw the confrontation of conservationists and loggers over the Terania Creek Basin rainforests This clash drew national attention and raised the publics concern for the protection and conservation of Australian Rainforests, as only 1/8th of the state’s original rainforests were still intact and left in their original undisturbed condition. Logging was stopped at Terania in 1980 but it took further protests till the NSW government declared the Nightcap Range a NP in 1982.. This culminated in the Rainforest Policy of October 1982 and the National Parks Preservation Act in 1983 which finally saw the creation of the Nightcap National Park which included parts of the Whian Whian State Forest. There is ample documentation of this blockade available on the net if you are interested in reading all about it.

The protesters that saved the Terania Rainforests are known locally as the first wave of conservationists to the area.