FIRST HOSPITAL: Tarmons House on St Vincents Hospital site, East Lismore.
FIRST HOSPITAL: Tarmons House on St Vincents Hospital site, East Lismore. contributed

History: Take the time to learn about the past

THESE days it is not uncommon to see people walking or jogging along the footpaths of Lismore.

Some even ride bicycles or motorised skateboards along the same footpaths, which is possibly illegal.

Residents soon learn not to back out of their driveways in "busy" streets!

The walkers and joggers are of course to be commended for taking this form of exercise.

However, many continue on oblivious to their surroundings while they listen through an ear-piece to music or a talking-book.

How much better it would be to look a little more closely at their environment - they may learn something from it!

For example, in 1997 a study was done on the East Lismore block bordered by Wyrallah Road, Ballina Street/Road, Dibbs Street, and Dalley Street.

It is quite interesting to look at this study and to compare it with the same area now.

There have been many changes which would be missed by the unobservant.

The area was interesting in the 1990s as it was a good example of subdivision, massive drainage works, and changing land usage.

But other changes have now occurred.

The area was originally part of Lismore Station and the track to Lismore township from the Coast passed through this, along what is now Wyrallah Road.

Cutting across was another track or stock route where cattle were driven to be sold at the Saleyards.

This track also took impounded animals to the town pound which was at that time situated across Ballina Road near what is now known as Pound Street.

A piece of the stock route was later cut off at Dalley Street and the remaining piece became Stock Street.

[This last name is in itself controversial, however, as James Stocks owned some of this land by the time it was named and some say it is really Stocks Street, named after him!]

Much of the area was subdivided in the early 1900s.

One major subdivision was established by Spencer Cottee, of Cottee Cordials fame.

He called his subdivision "Avondale", said to be after the name of the first aeroplane to land in Lismore.

Apparently it landed somewhere on his property.

The street which was originally called McKenzie Road is now called Avondale Avenue.

The Catholic Church bought a large piece of land in the same area with the intention of building a hospital and possibly a small church.

At the invitation of Bishop Carroll, three Sisters of Charity were invited to come and open the hospital, which they did in 1921.

This property included the building which they called Tarmons and it was here that the first hospital was established with 12 beds.

The building later was used as nurses' quarters and is still being used by the present St Vincents Hospital authorities.

The word Tarmons means "sanctuary" and was first used in 1857 by the Sisters of Charity as the name of their first hospital in Sydney at Woolloomooloo.

The house at St Vincents Hospital in Lismore is now called Tarmons House and is used as part of the regional Mental Health Service.

A sanctuary indeed!

The drainage system in the area is another feature of this East Lismore block.

Apparently there was a large natural spring coming out of the nearby hillside.

To control this and allow subdivision, a system of drainage leading to the River was developed.

Sections can be seen in most streets.

Then there are the houses!

If a little attention is given as you walk or jog you might learn quite a lot!

CONTACT: Prepared by Geoff and Margaret Henderson for Richmond River Historical Society, 02 6621 9993. Museum at 165 Molesworth St, Lismore is open 10am-4pm Monday-Friday; Research room open 10am-4pm Monday and Wednesday.

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