Lismore volunteers reimagine the Big Scrub


By Chris Speed

Over 600 species of plants native to the Northern Rivers have been planted by volunteers in the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens.

The NSW Northern Rivers was once the largest subtropical lowland rainforest in eastern Australia.

The Big Scrub, as it was known, covered over 75,000ha of land from Ballina in the east to Lismore in the west. It ran from Meerschaum Vale in the south to the Nightcap Ranges, Goonengerry and Byron Bay in the north.

But widespread clearing from the 1840s by foresters chasing good money for cabinet timbers like red cedar, reduced the valuable wildlife habitat to small pockets of rainforest.

According to Rainforest Rescue, only one percent of lowland rainforest remains across the Northern Rivers.

Southern Cross University radio students Narelle Johnson, Mary Skelsey and Chris Speed produced this podcast episode about the importance of the Big Scrub to the Bundjalung people and how volunteer efforts turned wasteland into a subtropical rainforest botanic garden.