I think it is so interesting how the Internet is transforming public art and public spaces. Take the Inside Out Project: form a group, take portraits, upload them, Inside Out sends them back. Wow! free, vibrant, interesting and engaging public art.
The good folk of Bangalow have taken up the challenge and have transformed the red brick Post Office into a canvas that celebrates locality, diversity, individuality and community.
Here is another Carl Ehlers photograph from the 1880's-90's. It is a picture of the Grafton Convent of the Sisters of Mercy and the old Villiers St Punt (ferry) that linked Grafton and South Grafton before the bridge was built in the early 1930's.
A lot has changed over the last 130 years, or has it? The river flats are much broader due to sediment from land clearance and of course the punt is long gone, however, the cutting through the river bank still exists and beneath the red
brick of a 1950's renovation to the Convent, the original building still stands.
Many thanks to the Clarence River Historical Society for permission to use photos from the Carl Ehlers Collection. Click here to visit the Clarence River River Society, one of Australia's oldest local history museums.
This chap isn't just going surfing he is a going 'stand up paddle surfing'. The sport originated in Hawaii where it is known as Hoe he'e nalu. You cannot go to the beach over the last year without seeing at least a couple of people past the breakers paddling backwards and forwards. I often think they look like Venetian Gondoliers but of course without the Gondola. The boards are much wider, often made of timber and of course you need a paddle.
The 'paddlers' still catch waves but it strikes me as a more specific exercise routine than regular surfing.
A stand-up paddle surfer doing his thing,. Yamba is in the distance.
The 500m walk from Angourie Shop to Spooky Beach is spectacular! Paperbark-tree swamps, fern filled gullies, Bangalow palms and ancient Lianna's twisting through the ever-changing canopy like Python snakes are encountered along the way.
The walk back after a swim is even better as there is a lentil burger and milkshake lunch to enjoy at the end of the journey.
While out snapping the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic on Saturday, I had the chance to pay my respects at the memorial to Mauri Kautto, husband and father, renowned cyclist and builder. The memorial is located on a very busy roundabout where South Grafton's main street and the Gywdir Highway intersect so it was an ideal moment to have a close up visit with the road closed for the big race.
Mauri died in March 1998 from injuries received in a horrific cycling accident and was mourned by a large section of the community. I knew him through the construction trade; my father knew him much better. He was an old school builder/businessman whose word was his bond. He specialised in concreting which is very hard work but he was a hard working and very fit man.
He is also remembered by the Grafton Cycling Club by annually holding the Mauri Kautto Teams Time Trial, time trialling was his cycling speciality, for a large amount of cash.
It is a great location for the memorial as every year the Grafton to Inverell passes by and opposite is McKittrick Park, which up until very recently had a bitumen cycling track that Mauri would've competed on.
Cyclists in the big race approach Mauri's memorial.
Today the 51st running of the world famous Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic is taking place. It is a 228km road race that leaves the coastal plain, climbs the gruelling Gibralter Range before passing though Glen Innes and out onto the North West Slopes and Inverell. Besides the Gibralter Range other spots that test out the riders include the Waterloo Range and the infamous Wire Gully, just 18kms from the finishing line. Pictured is the Elite Class, first to leave the start in Grafton's main street, but here they are traveling on the Ryan St, South Grafton, still under control by race officials.
The fastest ever time was 6hrs 6 seconds by English cyclist Paul Curran in 1985. The conditions are excellent today, warm but not windy. To read about more interesting things that have happened over the last 50 years click here.
Only 226kms to go!!!! Best of luck to all involved.
Broadwater is a small town on the Lower Richmond River that is dominated by it's sugar mill. Everyday day thousands of cars and trucks pass by it on the busy Pacific Highway.
In the late 1970's the industrial conglomerate CSR (Colonial Sugar Refining) decided it was no longer commercially interested its 3 mills in Northern New South Wales, Harwood on the Clarence River, Broadwater on the Richmond River and Condong on the Tweed River. The mills were bought by the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative Ltd i.e the farmers that grew the sugar. The business thrived (it's world class sugar due to the slower 2 year growing cycle) and was celebrated as an example of producers doing what a corporation couldn't, make a profit for them that actually did all the hard work!
At the turn of the century the Co-operative signed a deal with Delta Energy to turn and burn the sugar cane trash into steam/electricity; sounded great in the on going desperate times of climate change.
Well its all gone kaput as the price of renewable energy has bottomed out. Broadwater Co-Generation has gone into receivership to the tune of at least 50 million dollars but it is obviously a hell of a lot more as Condong was also converted into 'Co-Gen' as well. Should it be subsidised by the taxpayers? Was it a hare-brained scheme to begin with?
It is very hard to reconcile our collective desire to do the 'right thing' by our planet and our insatiable desire for electricity (and profit). Maybe it was worth a try but I wonder who will pay in the end?
The Ulmarra Shire Council was once had the distinction of being NSW's smallest Local Government in population terms, with just over 1000 residents. In 2000 they amalgamated with the Nymbodia Shire to form the Pristine Waters Shire. In 2004 the Maclean Shire, Copmanhurst Shire, Pristine Waters Shire and Grafton City amalgamated to form the Clarence Valley Council.
This sign is on the stairs to Back Beach, Minnie Waters is one of the few vestiges left of the Ulmarra Shires existence.
The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Grafton from Berdmonsey, London in 1884. The Convent adjacent to the Clarence River is both a busy but also very peaceful place. To celebrate their 125th year in Grafton, Sister Judith Weiley RSM led the establishment of the Archive Room and Museum.
It is a fascinating place with collections of letters, photographs and incredible memorabilia from the last 127 years. It is open to the public by simply contacting the Convent in Victoria St Grafton.
This is a picture of M.M. Angela Curtis 1843-1888. She was one of the original group that traveled on the Orient from London to Sydney and hence to Grafton to establish the Convent and begin to educate the poor Catholic children of the Clarence Valley. She is described as "gentle, cultured and artistic" and a "noted teacher". Mother Angela was a gifted letter writer and the archives are indebted for her "invaluable history of the Sisters early days in a strange land."
Meet the last surviving feral goat on Cape Byron, lets call her Nellie! She is the newest inductee into CVT's North NSW Hall of Shame(shorly some mishtake here: ed).
But Nellie is a remarkable survivor, avoiding capture when the National Parks Service removed the herd in 2003. The clever girl went to ground with the odd reappearance, before beginning a series of defiantly regular rambles since June 2011.
The herd of goats had been there for a long time. I suspect that they originally were used to keep the vegetation down from around the Lighthouse. In the 1970's when the Surfers/Hippies arrived in Northern NSW there were lots of rumours about the goats being barbecued for food.
She obviously has a few fans, a Mr Bensley is reported in the Byron Shire News on June 15th as stating;
""He (Bensley) said many locals are attracted to the goat’s “personality”.
“People feel very protective of this goat,” he said.
“There’s something about the personality about this goat – it managed
to evade the (National Parks and Wildlife Service) rangers.”"
I am also glad Nellie has survived. Australians have always admired anti-authoritarianism and cheered for the underdog. Nellie represents survival not only in the face of the bureaucratic/monolithic National Parks Service but also her precarious existence on those salty steep windswept cliffs.
The lonely existence of no others of your own kind for company, only gawping, nostalgic, snap happy tourists: and you're always looking over your shoulder.......
Nellie's lonely windswept home
Northern New South Wales Hall of Fame, the list so far....in no particular order...
1. The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour
2. The Last Feral Goat on Cape Byron
Where will I go next, I'm definitely thinking purple!!!!
Every great lighthouse needs a great lighthouse keepers house, Cape Byron has 2! The foreground building is the Old Keeper's House and has been converted into the obligatory cafe/tourist info/gift shop. The building has been conserved well but needs constant maintenance in this abrasive location.
The far building was the Assistant Keeper's House. It has been turned into 2 self-contained and very pricey rentals. But what a place to stay and you don't have to leave when they lock the gates at sunset!!!!
A couple of times a day the National Parks Service have small group tours of the Cape Byron Lighthouse that include the all important lantern. I was envious as I watched the Ranger use a very old key to unlock the door and reveal the traditional circular staircase that 15 people were about to ascend. Oh well!, we can save that visit for another day and use it as a reason to return to the spectacular Cape Byron.
I still have a few posts to go on Cape Byron but my last will be another Icon of the Northern New South Wales; and it's an unexpected animal!. Can you guess! Click here to see my first icon: predictable but still correct.
Designed by the NSW State Government Architect Charles Harding and built in 1901 from prefabricated concrete blocks the Cape Byron Lighthouse is one of Australia's most visited. There is a small free entry museum inside that has an excellent collection of memorabilia from both the lighthouse and Byron Bay.
I was shocked to read the front page of the Northern Star (the regional daily newspaper) about a horrific accident in the 1950's when a car reversed through the fence and plunged over cliff killing most of the occupants.
Meet Hardissa, a lovely lady in the sort of store that demonstrates the transformation of Bangalow from agricultural village to international destination ( well Byron Bay is just down the road!). She told me her parents were Sephardi Jews who emigrated from Morocco to Israel in the 1950's and then she emigrated to Australia in the 1970's. "We are all so blessed!" she gently repeated over and over again as we purchased our packets of spices and the hottest chilli sauce imaginable.
Bangalow is a pretty village located between Byron Bay and Lismore in the Richmond Valley. It was once the centre of a thriving dairy industry. As dairying declined and coastal tourism boomed the main street has transformed from the usual collection of small family owned shops; butcher, baker, chemist etc into very pricy boutiques and cafes; organic or locally sourced is the de rigueur signage.
As I sat in one of the aforesaid cafes enjoying a spectacular breakfast and superb coffee I noticed that the clientele rushing in for a skinny soy cap to go were very well dressed and immaculately groomed, was I in Paddington, Toowong or Chapel St Melbourne?
The cafe was in a lovely old row of shops and I am sure it used to be one of those old country jewelers who had clocks in their windows, repaired watches and sold young farming couples their engagement rings.
The biggest change to Bangalow was the diversion of the Pacific Hwy to the outskirts fifteen years ago. This picture would've been impossible in the old days. It is a much more peaceful Byron St these days.
The Bundjalung Nation has lost an elder in Ruby Langford Ginibi, or as she once claimed her name: Ruby Wagtail Big Noise Anderson Rangi Ando Heifer Andy Langford.
I found reading Don't Take Your Love To Town a seminal moment in my understanding of the plight of Aboriginal Peoples in the 1940's-80's.
Langford Ginibi was a proud and active elder of the Bundjalung Nation. She was born at the Box Ridge Mission, near Coraki in 1934 and lived in Bonalbo and Casino before moving to Sydney. Her story is that of a rural/urban struggle to survive and raise a family.
If you have never read this biography or any other of her books I can strongly recommend them.
I was lucky to once meet her and then heard her speak to a group of young people, I hope they were listening!
The Post Office has been extended over the years with the addition of a graceful clock tower and front office. South Grafton used to have it's own postcode, 2461, but it was taken away 10 years ago and now comes under Grafton's 2460.
The Yamba Community Garden is a brilliant new development that is based on the European idea of the allotment garden but also focuses on being a community facility where members can help out and then pick from the common areas. It was established in Wattle Park through a $50,000 grant from Northern Rivers Food Links and $10,000 from the Clarence Valley Council. At 6 months old it is an amazing development that represents what a community can do if they put their mind and effort into.
In 1964 John Landy decided he needed an attraction to get more people to stop at his Pacific Highway banana stall. Eureka! Lets build the world's biggest banana. Not only did it become the leading tourist attraction in Northern NSW but he began a craze Australia wide for 'big' objects that still sees no sign of stopping.
Over the years hundreds of thousands have called in to have a banana milkshake or buy a souvenir from the vast emporium that contains every form of plastic or furry banana design imaginable.
These days it is so much more than just a big cement banana, you can ice skate, watch a puppet show or gorge yourself at the candy factory (watch out Violet Beauregarde).
To find out more Click here for the Big Banana Website. Click here for a website devoted to Australia's 'Big Things", from toilets to ants, marijuana joints and worms this website has got the lot. What a cultural display! It makes me proud to be an Australian! (pass the yoghurt please!)
A highlight of any visit is to walk through the banana. The one thing that all visitors do is have their photo taken in front of the gargantuan fruit. .