SAFETY HAZARD: Ballina Shire mayor Cr David Wright and Alstonville Historical Society Ina le Bas with one of the Norfolk pines to be cut down next week.
SAFETY HAZARD: Ballina Shire mayor Cr David Wright and Alstonville Historical Society Ina le Bas with one of the Norfolk pines to be cut down next week. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Historic pines are set for the chop this week

TWO dying Norfolk pines set to be cut down this week have a direct link to Alstonville's first European settlers.

And in a strange twist of timing, the giant trees will be cut down just one year shy of the town's 150th anniversary celebrations next year.

The 120-year old pines belong to a group of six planted by William Freeborn, son of Andrew Freeborn, Alstonville's founding settler.

Andrew and his brother, Thomas, made their home at what was then called Duck Creek Mountain in 1865 after moving from Kiama to Ballina the same year.

The rugged pioneers endured snakes, mozzies, and a huge amount of labour when over a couple of decades they turned pristine red-cedar rainforest, or "Big Scrub", into a thriving arrowroot plantation followed by grazing land.

Andrew and his first wife, Ellinor Sharpe, also managed to have 10 kids along the way.

His fifth child, William, planted the Norfolk pines on his land in the 1890s.

Over the next century the trees would become giants, standing at more than 50 m high, and visible by fishermen off the coast, who would use them as markers to drop their lines.

But this time next week there will only be four left - the two earmarked for removal are rotting beyond repair at their base and have been deemed a serious hazard by Ballina Shire Council.

The removal operation will cost an estimated $20,000, according to Ballina mayor David Wright.

Ina le Bas, president of the Alstonville Historical Society, said the removal of the trees was a good opportunity to publicise next year's anniversary celebrations.

Kicking off with Alstonville's New Year's Eve fireworks, the plan is to have a major event each month, culminating in September with a street parade.

Two great-grandsons of the Freeborns are also coming from the US, where their grandfathers settled in the early 1900s.

Plans are being made to bury a time capsule at the site of the trees with a record of local events from the anniversary year.



The Honey Badger's sweet connection to the Northern Rivers

premium_icon The Honey Badger's sweet connection to the Northern Rivers

The Bachie has strong links to the Casino and Kyogle areas

Why council meeting drew 'busiest gallery in 100 years'

premium_icon Why council meeting drew 'busiest gallery in 100 years'

Residents riled up at logistics of expansion of retirement village

Why rail trail is more important then ever to council boss

premium_icon Why rail trail is more important then ever to council boss

Northern Rivers Rail Trail is well and truly on the agenda

Local Partners