CLASS MATES: Upper North Creek School students, c.1918.
CLASS MATES: Upper North Creek School students, c.1918.

History: Death of Delia has left gap in recall of events

THE recent death of Fidelia (Delia) Florence Gibbon, aged 93, of Lennox Head, has left a huge gap in the memories of the early days of the North Creek/Lennox Head area.

For many years Delia ran the post office at Lennox and her obliging manner and good humour made the daily mail collection a pleasure rather than a chore. She had lived all her life at Lennox, the eldest daughter in a family of three boys and three girls.

Her parents were from pioneering families in the district.

North Creek (or more correctly Upper North Creek) was founded in the 1860s after the Robertson Free Selection Bills were passed. Some of the area had earlier been logged by cedar-cutters but there were still trees to be cut when the selectors arrived.

Land was taken up quickly, usually in blocks of 40 or 50 acres.

Some selectors found the work too difficult, or could not comply with selection requirements. Most however stayed to become pioneer farmers of the area.

Some of these early settlers were Ainsworth, Bryant, Coleman, Forbes, Gibbon, Glynn, Henderson, Hodgkinson, Johnson, Kearney, King, Knudson, Ross, Sharp, Stone, Williams and Young.

Like most settlers in those days, it was not long before a school was established, first of all on the Henderson property where there was a wharf alongside the creek and children could come by rowing boat.

Most children walked and, in wet weather, this was a problem as the "road" was often flooded.

A site was later found further to the east and a more substantial building provided, together with a fine school house.

One teacher who was well remembered by many of the early students was Martin Justelius who arrived in 1908. He was apparently a brilliant teacher and several of his pupils went on to further education, including Kevin Myers who became a high school principal.

Lennox at that time was not much more than sandhills.

A few families lived there but it was not to become a village until it was subdivided in the early 1930s. The North Creek School became a centre for the whole settlement.

School plays were very popular. A block of land was set aside next to the school house which was to be used for a public hall.

This hall was never built. Instead a barn on Meaney's farm further up the hill was used for gatherings, including dances.

Picnics were often held at Lennox where the surf was very popular even in those days.

The dark waters of the lake were not so popular as huge eels could be caught there. Some were so big that when thrown over the back of a draught horse they touched the ground on both sides. On the other side of the school a block of land was set aside for an Anglican Church. This too was a centre of activity in the community. Most of the residents attended services there even if they were not Anglicans and weddings and christenings were celebrated as community events.

Clergymen usually came from Ballina for services. Catholic services were sometimes held in the school house, especially if the resident school teacher happened to be a Catholic.

The post office was located in various places, including the school house, but in 1911 the Myers family obtained the licence.

Their historic house, built of slab timber, housed the mail until the early 1960s, about the same time the school moved to Lennox Head.

The population had moved to Lennox and Upper North Creek had faded from productive farms to grazing and housing subdivisions. Such is life.

Prepared by Geoff & Margaret Henderson for Richmond River Historical Society, Lismore.

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