Shelly Beach land safe after an 18-year battle

AFTER 18 years of determined lobbying, 48ha of bushland near Shelly Beach at Ballina has been preserved for all time.

The land was last year gazetted by the Federal Government as a Crown reserve and yesterday it was officially named Allawah Bushland Reserve by Bundjalung custodian Susan Anderson.

"The name Allawah means 'peaceful resting place'," Ms Anderson said

"Indigenous tribes would spend the cold months inland and in the hot weather would come here to the sea.

"They would camp here and cleanse themselves in the salt water, eat pipis and fish.

"Travelling indigenous tribes would also stop here to rest before moving on.

"There would be big feasts and celebrations here."

East Ballina Landcare Group president Lee Andresen said yesterday was also a celebration of the group's success in having the land gazetted as a Crown reserve.

"The process began in 1966 when over 100 people met to discuss the future of the land which was zoned for future urban investigation by the NSW Government," he said.

"The area was originally 57ha which is the biggest plot of undeveloped land in East Ballina."

Mr Andresen said 48ha was gazetted, with the remaining nine being set aside for recreational use.

"This reserve is not ordinary. It is very special because it includes land with a strong connection with Bundjalung heritage," he said.

Mr Andresen said he had nicknamed the group who began lobbying for the land to be kept as a reserve as the "Shelly Beach Protestors".

"Without them we would not be doing this today," he said.

Local MP Don Page said the area was also the location of a massacre of 40 Aboriginal people by police in 1853.

"It was one of blackest days in our history," he said.

"It is appropriate we should recognise this area as a place of peace."

Shelly Beach protester Fran Byrne said the East Ballina community showed the government the value of the site.

"We wanted it kept for its visual aesthetic and to protect the flora and fauna," she said.

"We knew it was important to protect the site, but we had to prove it and we did just that."

Ms Anderson said the gazetting of the reserve would help a Bundjalung native title claim.

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