Clunes: A village preserved
LIKE many villages, the general store is the heart of the village and Clunes is no exception.
The Dixon family may have only been operating the combined general store, post office, bottle shop and cafe for three years, but by the nature of the business, almost every villager visits them daily.
Clunes was named after Robert Mortimer Clunes, an early engineer in the local dairying industry.
Clunes takes pride in their history and village life, with the sign as you drive in to the village announcing, Preserving Village Life.
Like most villages in the Northern Rivers, the township was settled by Europeans in the late 1800s.
I was lucky enough to run into Rod Gibson at the general store (where else?). Rod's family have lived in Clunes since settlement and his great grandfather donated the land for the school which opened in 1883.
Rod's grandson is about to start school at Clunes Public School and he will be the sixth generation Gibson to do so.
According to Rod, the original settlers were mainly Irish Protestant and at one stage there was only one Catholic resident, the baker, "Paddy" McNiff who used to joke that he could wipe out the lot of the protestants with one bake!
Clunes was a temperate village (no alcohol). and is also nicknamed "The Holy City" because of the number of fine early Australian churches in the village.
There was a hotel, but on three occasions it burnt down.
Today, villagers gather for annual events such as Christmas Carols at the Common and the annual Clunes Ball that raises money for the local hall.