Ballina & Richmond River GenWeb
The names Woolwich & Deptford were both proposed by officials, but neither name stuck. On the 7th November 1856, the cedar cutter settlement on the mouth of the Richmond River was proclaimed 'Ballina'.
Some of the Aboriginal words & their meanings include:
* "Bullenah" or "Boolinah" - 'Place
of many oysters'.
Ballina is now a 'place of many oysters'. The fact that this was so in early times is evidenced by the plentiful oyster shells found in middens around the Ballina district.
Ballina was also well known as the site of an Aboriginal massacre in 1852. (More about this can be found in "The East Ballina Massacre", further down the page). An elderly gentleman named Mick Howard often told tales about Aboriginal warfare: 'Local Aborigines' defended themselves against the 'Clarence Aborigines'. The warfare had taken place behind Dann's Lane, South Ballina, in the sandhills. This would have been in the late 1800's. He said that South Ballina was the site of fighting. The location gave the locals the advantage. It was easier to throw weapons downhill than uphill.
Some believe the naming of Ballina to be a combination of all possibilities. The area may have been known as 'the place of many oysters' until 1852, when it may have changed to the similar word for 'the place of blood & wounding'. It is likely the European word "Ballina", known from Northern Island, was then adopted.
Brief History of Ballina
The first inhabitants of the Ballina area were the Aborigines of the Bunjalung tribe. Food such as: oysters, fish, eels, carpet snakes, wallabies, possums & flying foxes were cooked on hot coals. Nuts & yams were cooked in hot ashes. As with many tribes, wichetty grubs were a delicacy. Shell middens are today scattered around the Ballina area in evidence of the Aborigines' culnary delights.
On August 26, 1828, Captain Henry John Rous discovered the Richmond River. He anchored the frigate H.M.S "Rainbow" at the mouth of the river & travelled upstream with two lieutenants in a pinnace, as far as Tuckean Swamp. They notes thick undergrowth, tall palm trees & the huts of Aborigines. The Richmond River was named after Captain Rous' brother's best friend, the Duke of Richmond & Lennox.
During the next 14 years there was no further European influence. The discovery of good land across the Blue Mountains, combined with favourable seasons saw settlers occupying those areas.
Cedar-cutters worked their way through the cedar on the South Coast & Manning River. By 1836 they had reached the Clarence River. The Aborigines called the cedars "wudgie - wudgie" trees. In 1842, friendly Aborigines told Steve King & Joe Maguire (Clarence cedar-getters) about the wudgie - wudgie trees further north. A whale-boat was loaded onto a dray pulled by bullocks. They travelled overland north to Pelican Creek & then rowed down to the river entrance. Cedar tops were evident in the "Big Scrub".
Before the end of the year the story of white settlement in Ballina began. Steve King returned with his family & other cutters on the tiny schooner "Sally". They sailed up the coast from the Clarence. The ship made its way to the foot of the present "Lighthouse Hill" at East Ballina. Some set up camp at "Prospect", where there was a freshwater stream & high ground for camping. Others continued upstram to Gundarimba.
The Settlement of Ballina
The first cedar was cut at Prospect & floated down North Creek to the East Ballina sawpit. Here it was cut into filtches (logs).Other cedar camps were established at Emigrant Creek (named after the emigrants Tom Brandon & Henry Williams), Duck Creek (Uralba), Teven, Tintenbar & further up the river. As round logs did not pack well in ships' holds, the timber was squared with axes for easier transport.
The sailing ships destined to transport cedar away from the Richmond, brought rock as ballast from Sydney. This rock was used along the waterfront at Ballina. Many ships were wrecked on the trecherous changing bar with no lighthouse. In 1855, Captain George Easton became the first pilot officer. He ruled the comings & goings of all ships, saving many lives.
As the cedar was cut out, farming pioneers further bought, settled & cleared the Big Scrub to allow fro cattle grazing & the growing of crops. About 50 years after initial settlement, stone walls were extended out from the river mouth in a bid to make shipping safer.
The first land was offered for sale at Ballina in 1856, at the Casino Lands Office. By 1860, dairying & general farming had become the way of life for settlers.
The Native Mounted Police were formed in 1848 in NSW. The Mounted Police members were from subdued tribes & were under the command of European Officers. The Native Mounted Police enforced European law on tribes with which they had no bonds. In 1853-4, at an area close to the present day East Ballina Golf Course, the Native Police slaughteres at least 30 - 40 men, women & children while they slept. It is believed that some Aborigines from north of the Tweed River had murdered some Europeans & that the murderes had fled south towards the Richmond. On the night prior to the raid, the Mounted Police stayed at Ainsworth's Public House, 'The Sailor's Home'. That is, the European troopers stayed in the Hotel while the black trackers stayed outside. At 3 am the Mounted POlice rode out to where between 200 to 300 Aborigines lay asleep in camp. The troopers & trackers surrounded the cmp & opened fire. The Patrol then headed north.
white settlers of East Ballina were disturbed by the
unprovoked attack on the friendly natives. They reported
the massacre to the NSW Government to no avail. Eventually
the settlers were told to mind their own business unless
they wanted trouble.
The Arakwal people were a South Ballina clan numbering about 200 people during the early development of Ballina Township. During the early 1860's a mass poison atempt was made. Poisoned flour was given to the Aborigines to make damper. They took it to their camp at South Ballina for preparation & cooking. The old people & children of the tribe refused to eat the damper as it was a new food. Upon waking the next morning, survivors found nearly 150 adults dead.