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In April 1856 a description of the Richmond River District was written by a correspondent of the Sydney based Empire newspaper (Trove 26.4.1856). It says:

"When it is stated that the valley of the Richmond and of its tributaries extends for fully 100 miles inland, and that it includes nearly 200,000 acres of the richest description of alluvial land, a great portion of which is in its natural state clear of timber, and that the various rivers and creeks are navigable for a distance of from 80 to 90 miles, those facts alone are sufficient to point out the eligibility of the district for the employment and subsistence of a numerous population. When to this is added the fact that no part of the Colony presents greater inducements to capitalists for the breeding of sheep and cattle, a fact well known to those individuals who have invested their capital in the rearing

stock in this district, it is obvious that a country possessing so many advantages cannot long remain unnoticed and comparatively unknown"

The correspondent also states why the mouth of the Richmond River is called Ballina:

"The mouth of the Richmond River, or as is termed by the natives "Ballina," is situated in latitude 28 degrees 45, or thereabouts"

The site for the town of Ballina was first proclaimed by the Department of Land and Public Works on 6th November, 1856 (Trove 6.12.1856). The first town lots were offered for sale by public auction at the Casino Police Station for Ballina on 15 September 1857 (Trove 16.7.1857) and for West Ballina and East Ballina on the 20 November 1857 (Trove 7.10.1857). 

By late 1857 there were already discussions as to whether the area would remain in NSW or be annexed into Moreton Bay Queensland. A public anti-separation meeting was held on 12 Dec 1857 at Mr John Eyles Inn at Ballina. The farmers of the Richmond River were keen that it remain within NSW which it was (Trove 27.12.1857). 

In October 1859 Mr John Roberts, a Presbyterian minister wrote to the Empire newspaper with an account of the religious, education, moral and legal situation on the Richmond River (Trove 17.10.1859).

Regarding religion he said: 

"As to religion, there is not, at present, a minister of religion stationed on the river, and, consequently, there are no ordinances of religion regularly performed here. ..............At present they are not, generally speaking, inclined to  attend the ordinances of the Gospel, much less are they prepared to support a minister of tho Gospel, properly and

respectably, nor, indeed, in any way at all".

Regarding education he said:

"Now, as to education, it is a melancholy fact that there is not a school in any township on any part of this river. There

are several townships here, such as Ballina, Blackwall, Lismore, Casino, and some other localities, in each of which there is a large number of children rising up without any secular or religious instruction, on the Sabbath, nor on the week day. As to the morality of the people on this river, it is such as is generally found to be the case, where there are

neither religious nor educational means of instruction provided. I have no pleasure in entering into the particulars of the ungodliness which prevails in these localities, and which are likely to extend, unless they are speedily checked by the preaching of the Gospel, education, and magisterial interference"

Re the legal situation:

"As to the legal condition of the place, there is no police magistrate here ...........  At present there are only honorary magistrates, men of business, fully occupied, without much time to study the law, and to attend to cases, to be found on or near this river. In cases of the most aggravated assault, there is no redress to be had without going perhaps a hundred miles for it, through the bush, or by water, which is to many persons too expensive, both as to time and money, even if they knew the bush track ; and the result is, the injured parties endure injustice, or take the law in

their own hands, rather than go on a journey of a hundred miles, which will occupy them several days, to appeal to a Court of honorary magistrates, where they are not certain there will be a sufficient attendance of magistrates to form a Court. I have heard of cases where parties were too seriously injured by assaults to go so far. I have heard of other cases in which persons had neither horses nor boats to go to Casino, the only place where a magistrate sits. I have also heard of persons foregoing their claims to just debts, because they could not command the time and money to go so far to claim their right"

In response, in August 1860 Ballina and Lismore were appointed places for the holding of Courts of Petty Sessions (Trove 11.08.1860).

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