Alstonville

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More romantically known as Duck Creek Mountain in its early days, Alstonville today is a tidy, well-established town offering many services. It is the regional centre of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and is handily situated for exploration of both the coast and the hinterland.

The nearby Victoria Park is a 17.5-hectare remnant of the 'Big Scrub', the original all-but-impenetrable rainforest that once covered this entire area. It was the Big Scrub that first attracted Europeans, particularly the beautiful 'red gold' timber from the Australian red cedar, toona australis, which was extracted to the point where barely a mature tree of the species survived. The timber was channelled down Duck Creek to the Richmond River, the shipped to Ballina and the world. Many of eastern Australia's historic houses have cedar doors, windows, architraves and staircases, as well as being furnished with tables, sideboards and wardrobes made from this rich, dark red, durable timber.

It is said that the soil around Alstonville is 12 metres deep, and is amongst the best agricultural land in Australia. It's sad to see that much of it has been covered in brick veneerials but - in place of the now-defunct dairies that followed the removal of the rainforests - plantations of macadamias, avocados, pecans, coffee and landscaping nurseries also thrive.

Alstonville has given its name to a variety of tibouchina, a plant native to Brazil, which has intense puce-purple flowers. The late Ken Dunstan bred the plant that has become synonymous with the north coast town, and which flowers over a long period throughout autumn, adding brilliant colour to the town and the wider region.

Summerland House Farm lives up to its reputation as a quality agritourism attraction, and gives visitors the opportunity to explore the stunning 170 acre property and its fields of macadamia and avocado trees. The Tractor Tour takes you right around the farm with a detailed commentary on farming practices, the history of the area and other fascinating facts, including a glimpse behind the scenes of Summerland House Farm’s packing and distribution processes, preparing local produce ready for the Australian markets.

For those who are inspired by the story of House with No Steps, the farm’s Watts Cottage Museum outlines the truly moving story of the organisation’s founder, Lionel Watts, and his outstanding influence on the lives of people with a disability.

Alstonville Accommodation

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