A Brief History of

CASINO & DISTRICT


Walker Street Casino : Photo taken by Bert Webster

Casino's recorded history began in 1840 when squatters Henry Clay and George Stapleton drove their herds over the Richmond Range from Tabulam and settled on the Richmond River. To their 30,720 acre grazing run they gave the name "Cassino".

In 1844, Clark Irving purchased the run and renamed it "Tomki", but the settlement at the Falls, which was one of the few places a bullock dray could cross the river in safety, retained the name of Cassino. This was later changed to Casino, the first official use of the name appearing in a report to the Surveyor-General by licensed Surveyor F. S. Peppercorne following his survey of the site for the town in 1855.

The stations immediately encircling Casino were Wooroowoolgan on the south side of the river Runnymede to the north and Tomki stretching downstream. This initial period of settlement introduced the pastoral era, which was to prove the mainstay of the district for many decades. Timber, dairying and beef cattle have each played their part in the development of the district.

The cedar-getters opened up the country but, with the progressive removal of the Big Scrub, it has become necessary to manage the remaining forests, both hardwood and softwood, by sound forest principles including the progressive expansion of Softwood plantations.  The activities of the NSW State Forestry Commission and timber mills ensure that timber will always be an important segment of the town's economy.

The development of the district for dairying came slowly, being deferred, until clearing started by the cedar-getters had spread through the Big Scrub. Impetus was given firstly with the subdivision of the big squatting stations and later with the formation of the Casino Co-operative Dairy Society Ltd.

The beef cattle industry, being somewhat later than dairying, has assumed great importance in the past sixty years.  Some of the early expansion of this industry followed an overseas demand for tallow. Boiling down plants became part of operations of early stations. The production of tallow as a means of disposal of surplus stock was virtually abandoned during the Crimean war and the beef industry, for many years, was substantially restricted to the supply of local needs. With the growth of overseas demand for Australian beef however, the industry has successfully entered the overseas market with the major meat works, the Northern Co-operative Meat Company Ltd. developing at Casino.

The steady growth of the population of the town in is indicative of its progress and prosperity. The population of 1,486 in 1891 had grown to 3,455 by 1929 and is today approximately 11,000 in the Casino township area and approximately 20,000 in the Richmond Valley Shire area.

The town is built astride the Richmond River 25 metres above sea level and is very fortunate in being the only town in the district, which is free from flooding. Its climate is sub-tropical with pleasant summers and warm winters; the annual rainfall being 1065mm

Casino was termed the "Hub of Summerland" in the 1970's because it was the key rail and air centre for the Summerland area. It is on the main Sydney to Brisbane railway line and was until the recent closure the junction for the Lismore and Murwillumbah line. It is also the junction of the State Highway and principal main roads. The airport is only one kilometre mile from town and up until recent years was serviced by daily flights to Sydney. Now the airfield is used only for small planes.

Casino's strong ties with the beef industry have not faltered over the years. The town has been dubbed the "Beef Capital". The community celebrates and enhances the title with an annual  "Beef Week" festival held in the month of May. With a positive approach to tourism and a reputation for warm and friendly people Casino's future is well assured.


Main body of this article was adapted from
"Casino - The "Hub" of Far North Coast of NSW"
Published in 1971

Casino & District Family History Group: Exceptional resources held.