TRANSPORT: North Creek Ferry, c.1905.
TRANSPORT: North Creek Ferry, c.1905.

North Creek was once a thriving community

ANYONE living in the Richmond River area (or at least in the Ballina area) knows where the North Creek is to be found - it is that waterway which enters the Ballina Bar with the Richmond River but upstream continues along its own way under the Missingham Bridge near East Ballina.

But what and where is Upper North Creek?

There are many places with an "Upper" attached to the name but these are usually associated with a River, e.g. Upper Main Arm at both Murwillumbah and Mullumbimby, hence Main Arm, which is now a locality in its own right near Mullumbimby!

Upper North Creek is in fact the headwaters section of the North Creek and the settlement which once had this name is now incorporated into Lennox Head (which was once the "poor sister" of Upper North Creek!).

When the cedar cutters came to the Richmond they settled near the River entrance at what later became known as Ballina.

The best cedar visible at that time was along the North Creek so they made their way along the northern side of the Creek, moving in a north-westerly direction.

As the trees were cut down and taken away by the waiting ships it was discovered that there were areas of rich volcanic soil which would make good agricultural and pastoral lands.

With the introduction of the Robertson Land Acts in the 1860s there was a rush to select land in the area.

With settlement came the request for a school, a post office, and various other facilities.

The only access to the land settlements at that time was via the North Creek. Most people, including women, knew how to row a boat.

One of the settlers was appointed postman and he had to row to Ballina to collect the mail.

To avoid confusion with the North Creek location at Ballina the new area was called "Upper North Creek".

So it remained for many years - in fact, many of the locals still refer to it as Upper North Creek, or simply North Creek.

Sugar cane was the first main crop and this was taken to a wharf on the creek for loading onto punts. Initially, there were a few small local sugar mills, but later the cane was taken to Broadwater.

As difficulties were often encountered when moving into the river near the Ballina Bar it was decided to build a canal - thus the Ballina Canal came into existence.

The cane punts could then simply proceed down the canal from the creek and pass into the river north of Ballina and so continue on to Broadwater.

Because of the difficulty of having to row to Ballina every time one wanted to obtain supplies, a track was made across private properties and on to East Ballina via what is now Skennars Head.

The track was originally only a bridle track, but later was widened for carts. Later, it was agreed to provide a ferry across the upper reaches of the North Creek.

Some years later a bridge was built. In the early 20th century, a bus route was established from Byron Bay to Ballina, along the North Creek Road and over this bridge.

For many years children travelled on this bus to high school at Ballina.

The North Creek community was an active one - a new school and school residence were built on the hill near the North Creek Road and the Anglican Church was built next to it.

There was to have been a hall but this was never built as by that time Lennox Head was growing fast.

Now poor old North Creek has been forgotten and even the Upper North Creek Road has a new name!

Very few "locals" remain in the district to remember the rich farm lands which now grow only houses!


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