|The Clarence river, Tuesday afternoon|
I must have done the return trip from Brisbane to Sydney by car a dozen times over the years. It's a grueling drive but I always look forward to the journey through the sugar country along the Clarence and Richmond rivers, from Grafton to Ballina. It's just a beautiful part of the world - the broad, slow flowing rivers dotted with small towns and iron bridges, oceans of sugarcane against the hazy ranges to the West. And of course, lots of vintage architecture reflecting both the Queensland tradition and southern styles, in various stages of repair and despair.
This time I was alone in the car and took the opportunity to make little detours along the way. But I only had time to look at a handful of houses and had to resist the overall streetscapes and commercial buildings, including some impressive colonial-era hotels. I consider it a mere reconnaissance trip and vow to return one day, spend a bit more time and finish the sightseeing. Perhaps a family biking holiday, time will tell.
As a brief historical background, the district was raided by cedar getters in the 1830's and agricultural communities were established along the rivers over the following decades. Once cleared the land was used for general farming and increasingly for sugar cane. Some of the towns became important river ports and were serviced by steamers from Sydney and other cities long before roads were established. As with most rural centers the wave of mechanization and motorization lead to a steady population decline and some of the towns now have a fraction of the population of a hundred years ago.
|The Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) mill in Broadwater, |
First out is this rather rare and well-maintained "M- roofed" gabled cottage, spotted close to the highway in Ulmarra. This is a doubled-up version of the two-room colonial gable typical for the late 1800's, see the below example from Woodburn. A brick fireplace warms the core house and a separate chimney services the kitchen under the skillion extension to the rear. This is a real gem and it warms the heart to see it in such great shape.
|"M-roof" gabled cottage|
|Dutch gable roof with stepped verandas, on brick piers|
|Colonial gable with exposed brick chimney, Woodburn|
|The Manager's bungalow on the river|
|M-roofed colonial cottage|
|Derelict bungalow, with "thunder box|