TOP 70: Northern Rivers' Most Influential #11-21

11. Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth.
Chris Hemsworth. BANG SHOWBIZ

HOLLYWOOD actor Chris Hemsworth and his wife, Spanish actress Elsa Pataky, are the reason why millions of American now know there is such a place in Australia called Byron Bay.

They moved here in 2015, and while they may be the hottest (and most famous) couple on the Northern Rivers, they still enjoy taking their three children to community events, music festivals, parks, for a walk on the beach or just having a beer at a local pub.

Hemsworth's 'bromance' with Matt Damon created quite a stir internationally last year, with both stars having fun at music festivals around the area.

As the face of Australia's tourism campaign since 2016, as Thor in The Avengers franchise, as Kim Hyde in Home and Away and as the unforgettable Kevin Beckman in Ghostbusters (2016), Hemsworth has made his mark as a leading man that can make millions laugh.

His new film projects are Bad Time at El Royale (out October 12), an untitled Avengers film due in 2019 and a Men in Black film currently shooting in which he plays Agent H, also due next year.

His trademark feature, besides his good looks, is his 'occa' sense of humour and his ability to make fun of himself.


12. Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin.
Ben Franklin. Marc Stapelberg

A NEWCOMER to the Northern Rivers, NSW Nationals MLC Ben Franklin moved to the Far North Coast in 2015 after being elected to the upper house from the lead spot on the ticket.

Having just announced he will run for the seat of Ballina at next year's state election, Franklin poses a formidable threat to the Greens, who are hoping to retain their first ever regional lower house seat at the next election.

But the Nats want it back.

Franklin has already built a profile in the Ballina electorate, and represents a new generation of Nationals who are in tune with environmental concerns while maintaining the party's pragmatic approach to economic development.

The son of teachers, he grew up on the banks of the Murray at Barham but won a scholarship to elite Cranbrook for his final two years of school.

He built considerable "insider" political skills in his successful career as National Party state director from 2008 to 2015.

He has been described as the man who "professionalised" the party and one of "the best political operatives" in the state. He presided over the party's first every community pre-selection in the seat of Tamworth, which was replicated last year in Lismore.

In January last year he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Northern NSW.

Fortuitously for his bush credentials, he also happens to be the great grandnephew of poet Banjo Paterson.


13. Christopher Dean

 Christopher Dean.
Christopher Dean. Graham Broadhead

PHILANTROPIST Christopher Dean and his wife Lynda made their fortune when they built a business based on tea tree oil from a small plantation in Ballina, which then became a global success.

Mr Dean realised the dream of his step-father Eric White, who was fascinated by the antibacterial power of tea tree oil and convinced of its applications in modern society.

When Mr Dean returned to Australia with an infected toenail, contracted while trekking in Africa, doctors from around the world told him it could not be healed.

But Mr White applied applied a few drops of tea tree oil and cured it.

Mr White was considered to be ahead of his time as he recognised the health benefits of the oil of the native tea tree, and had pushed for a Crown lease to develop a product.

His persistence paid off and he was eventually granted a lease of Ballina land on a Thursday, giving the brand its name.

After 30 years, in 2006, the Thursday Plantation business was acquired by Ingeria Health for $40 million.

Mr Dean is now the chairman of Organic India Private Limited, which cultivates, collects, processes, manufactures, and markets organic products for supporting sustainable farming, wild crafting, and village/tribal agricultural communities in India.

The Deans have been involved in donating to and supporting the Northern Rivers Community Foundation.


14. Dirt Girl

Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace.
Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace. Lesley Apps

DIRTGIRL creators Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace's passion for educating and encouraging people to love and respect their environment is having a massive impact here and around the world.

The launch of their show Dirtgirlworld on the ABC in 2009 had an immediate impact as children's eyes were opened, and in turn their parents, to the fun that could be had outdoors, getting grubby in the garden.

It went on to be broadcast in 128 countries and Dirtgirl and her friends continue to amass a green army of followers worldwide through social media and other programs created at Cate and Hewey's Whiporie property.

Dirtgirl's popularity has also provided these eco-warriors with clout to affect change locally and at state level.

They have worked with councils on recycling programs and provided toolkits for councils across NSW to adopt and encourage families to rediscover the benefits of backyard composting.


15. Lions

Detail from the Lions public artwork.
Detail from the Lions public artwork. Terra Sword

WITH drought relief efforts now in full swing across much of Australia's eastern states, one organisation guaranteed to be in the thick of efforts to help struggling individuals and communities will be the Lions.

Living and breathing the Lions' motto "We serve", members in Australia and abroad roll up their sleeves to help their local communities as well as fundraise tirelessly to affect change in medical, humanitarian, environmental and social areas.

And Lismore plays a big part in the global success of Lions, having been the starting point for the service club's spread across Australia.

Following a meeting in the US with members of Lions Clubs International, Lismore businessman William Tresise formed the Lismore Lions Club in 1947.

Today, under the umbrella of Lions Australia, there's more than 30,000 members and 1300 clubs nationally, making it the country's largest service club.

More than $50 million is donated to Lions Australia each year with all funds going directly to causes and people in need.

Lions Australia also provides disaster relief to communities in times of crisis and the Australian Lions Foundation to date has provided more than $134 million in funding grants and relief.


16. Peter Noble

Peter Noble.
Peter Noble. Christian Morrow

FOR almost 50 years, Peter Noble OAM has been active in the music industry and since 1994 he has been a pivotal part of one of the Northern Rivers biggest events: Bluesfest.

The five-day festival has included in its line up most major music stars in the English market and in other languages of the last 100 years that are still alive.

By the time Bluesfest turned 25 years old in 2014, it had won 27 awards including four Australian Helpmann Awards for Best Contemporary Music Festival and Australian Event of the Year at the Australian Event Awards, nominations at the prestigious Pollstar Awards for Best International Music Festival, received 17 further award nominations.

It was the only Australian festival listed in Billboard's 2014 Top 10 festivals.

Sydney-born Noble played in rock, soul and blues bands as a bassist during the 1960s and 1970s, taking leading roles with artists including Clapham Junction and Marcia Hines.


17. Adam Shoemaker

Adam Shoemaker.
Adam Shoemaker. Trevor Veale

PROFESSOR Adam Shoemaker became Vice Chancellor of Southern Cross University just two years ago, and has made a significant impact since.

When he took the role he declared he wanted SCU to become most progressive, connected and student-focused university in Australia.

The Canadian-born professor is seen as innovative and youthful VC, not afraid to break the mould and try new things.

Under his leadership, SCU also took a proactive attitude to the threat of university funding cuts by releasing a foundation document, the New Regional Deal, to build a compelling case for the funding of regional universities.

The release of the 2018 budget vindicated this approach, with $96 million awarded specifically to regional universities, a win described by Shoemaker as "overdue recognition" that universities were a "cornerstone" of the future of regional Australia.

Under his tenure the Gold Coast campus of the university continues to steam ahead, although it's headquarters remain firmly in Lismore.


18. Wayne Jones

Wayne Jones.
Wayne Jones. Alison Paterson

IT'S a long way from being a nurse in Western Sydney to being chief executive of the Northern New South Wales Local Health District.

But the challenge of running the district which involves 6000 staff is clearly one that Wayne Jones has relished since his appointment in May 2016.

Since then, Mr Jones has overseen the $180 million redevelopment of the Lismore Base Hospital including a new paediatric unit, a helipad, new operating theatres, women's care unit, medical imaging services and new inpatient units and a 12-level south tower.

He was at the helm when an additional $52.5 million was announced by the NSW Government in June for the final Stage 3C of the redevelopment, including an enhanced Intensive Care Unit, new inpatient units and new education, training, research and administration facilities.

But he's also has to deal some devastating knocks to the NNSWLHD's reputation, including February's coronial Inquest into the death of Michaela Perrin at LBH.


19. Greg McNamara

Greg McNamara.
Greg McNamara. Jamie Brown

NORCO'S chairman of the board, Greg McNamara has been a director of Australia's largest and oldest dairy cooperative Limited for 20 years.

A member of Norco's Member Services Committee, Mr McNamara runs a 300 head dairy herd at Goolmangar just outside Lismore, in partnership with his wife Sue and son Todd,

Mr McNamara has been a steady hand on the wheel of Norco, and rallied support when the co-operative recently faced losing its contracts to supply clients within the Northern New South Wales Local Health District.

A Board member of the New South Wales Business Chamber, he is respected throughout the sector, Mr McNamara is regularly consulted on matters across the agricultural sector, and in his role as chair of the Industry Advisory Group (IAG) within the Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program (FCCPP).

Mr McNamara is passionate about encouraging farmers to work together to improve farm gate returns by providing advice and resources to farmers and farmer groups looking to establish co-operatives and collaborative business models.


20. Paul Piticco and Jessica Ducrou

Paul Piticco and Jessica Ducrou.
Paul Piticco and Jessica Ducrou. Daniel McKenzie

MUSIC gurus Paul Piticco and Jessica Ducrou are the Secret Sounds team.

Uki resident Piticco used to manage Powderfinger and this week he became the co-owner of Brisbane's new live music venue, the Fortitude Valley Music Hall, with capacity for 3,300 people.

Ducrou lived in the area until last year. She started out at Rolling Stone Magazine in 1991. She went on to partner at IMC booking agency and found the iconic Homebake Music and Arts Festival. She is also the co-owner of Village Sounds Booking Agency which represents scores of Australia's top artists.

Both produce Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festivals.

These power duo is able to sell out Splendour in the Grass in less than an hour, and when northern NSW was hit by flooding after Cyclone Debbie, the couple auctioned off gold passes to Splendour and directed all proceeds to flood relief.

They were also some of the first within the music industry to push Your Choice, an initiative created to address harmful behaviour against women and other people within the musical industry.

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