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Alstonville, NSW

Quiet town now part of NSW hinterland growth between Lismore and Ballina.

Alstonville is a pleasant hinterland town which lies between the larger centres of Lismore and Ballina. Surrounded by rolling hills where avocados and macadamia nuts are grown, it is primarily a service centre for the local population of around 5,000.

Location

Alstonville is located 733 km north of Sydney, 10 km west from the Pacific Highway and 19 km east of Lismore.

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Origin of Name

An early settler, John Perry, named his house after his wife Annie Alston. The name became a byword for the area and it was a simple step to name the town Alstonville.

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Things to See and Do

Summerland House Farm
The House With No Steps was started by the quadriplegic Lionel Watts in 1956. It was created specifically as a place where physically and intellectually disabled people would acquire skills that would allow them to enter the workforce. The Summerland House With No Steps project, which started in 1972, is one of the most successful of all the House With No Steps projects - there are now 160 of them on the east coast of Australia. It offers its disabled trainees a range of skills. Summerland House Farm currently employs over 90 people in the Alstonville area. Spread over 172 acres (70ha) it is now an avocado and macadamia farm with monthly local markets and a number of tourist attractions designed to appeal to the whole family including mini golf and a farm tractor tour. They have shops where produce can be purchased - and it really is excellent produce ranging from plants to fresh foodstuffs (the tomatoes are amazing). It is located at 253 Wardell Road just south of Alstonville. Check out http://www.summerlandhousefarm.com.au for more details.

Crawford House Museum
Located on the way out to Summerland House Farm at 10 Wardell Street is the town's excellent museum with its displays of "objects, archaeological materials, photographs, oral histories and texts which tell the story of Alstonville and surrounding districts. Baby scales used by Nurse Thomas, a wedding dress now on the Powerhouse Dress Register and women’s handicrafts featuring not only tatting but yatting form part of our significant collection." Originally the home of William Ambrose Crawford, a fine example of an elegant Federation-era northern NSW timber house, it was built in 1911 and remained in the family until 1982. Willliam's daughter still lives in the town. It was sold to the Ballina Council in 1982, used as a baby health centre, and then in 2001 leased to the Alstonville Plateau Historical Society. It was officially opened as a museum in 2004. For more information check out their website: http://aphsmuseum.org.au/. It is open Friday 10.00am-4.00pm and Sunday 1.00pm-4.00pm. Other days by appointment.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Victoria Park Nature Reserve
Located 8 km south of Alstonville, the Victoria Park Nature Reserve is a 17.5ha rainforest reserve with an 8ha remnant of subtropical rainforest. There is a pleasant boardwalk through the rainforest which is part of what was once known as the Big Scrub (some 75,000ha of untouched rainforest) which stretched from the coast inland. There are 68 different tree species in this small area including the 'Big Fig', a massive Moreton Bay fig. If you are lucky you might see red-legged pademelons, potoroos, water rats and possums. There are excellent information boards which describe how the local Widjabul Aboriginal people, of the Bundjalung nation, used the plants of the rainforest. Check out http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nationalparks/parkHome.aspx?id=N0500 for more information.

Dalwood Falls
Located south of Alstonville these falls are worth visiting for their peacefulness and their idyllic location in the rainforest. Although often referred to as dangerous, they are hugely popular with local youth who enjoy jumping from the sheer cliffs into the pool below the falls. The setting is attractive although difficult to locate because the falls are down a path in the bush and often the only sign of their location is a number of cars parked on the edges of Dalwood Road.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Widjabul Aboriginal people, of the Bundjalung nation who lived successfully off the fauna and flora of the rainforest which extended from the coast over an area of 75,000ha.

* The district was settled by Europeans in the 1860s when cedar cutters moved into the area looking for timber.

* By 1865 Andrew Freeborn and his brother Thomas had settled and were farming in the district which was known by the oxymoronic title of Duck Creek Mountain.

* In 1873, John Perry, the local storeowner and postmaster, who had named his homestead and farm after his wife, Annie Alston, applied the name to the emerging township.

* By the 1880s a town, known as Duck Creek, had grown to service the surrounding farmers. It had six stores and two pubs. The dominant industries were timber, dairy and sugar farming with four sawmills, nine sugar mills and, by 1900, there were four butter factories in the district.

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Visitor Information

There is no Visitor Information Office in Alstonville. The closest are at Ballina and Lismore.

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Useful Websites

The Ballina website - http://www.ballina.info/alstonville - has basic information about the town.

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