Lower Richmond

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Gourmet's Guide to Lismore & District

Chapter 9

Lower Richmond

Evans Head

Ballina - First Contact
Ballina - The Feros

Ballina - 1930s & Beyond

Evans Head

In 1885 the Kytherian Athanasios Dimitrios Kominos (Skordili) leased 2000 yards of foreshore for oyster-growing on the Evans River estuary, at the same time a mysterious G. Demetrius took out an adjoining 2000yds. How he (they?) worked the leases is a mystery, but the 1891 census shows three Greek males and one female in the County of Rous, one of whom could have been an overseer of the oyster beds and/or Comino’s resident agent. If not Demetrius, he could be the Cretan Nikolaos E. Vogiantzis (Voyiatzis/Boyaze) who was recorded as the overseer of the Comino leases in 1898, although operating from the Comino restaurant at 36 Oxford Street at this time. He based himself at Bohnock on the Manning River around 1900, but finally settled in Taree following a dispute with the Cominos in 1917 over management of the leases. The female was ensconced at Casino and may have been his wife who perhaps kept house there while he regularly commuted to Evans Head. Casino was a town of 779 people at this time and probably more convivial for a wife left alone than the closer town of Coraki, where 274 people were still trying to civilize the place. [The other two males were identified as living at Ballina and are likely to be the Perrys.]

Conversely, Comino may have had some arrangement with the Paddons. The Paddon family arrived in 1877 and pioneered oyster cultivation at their Iron Gates property around 1880, gaining national recognition as the first to apply scientific guidelines to the business (notwithstanding the Vogiantzis/Comino claims for this honour.) Their oysters were bagged and taken over a ti-tree/corduroy layered sand track to the wharfs at Woodburn for shipment to Sydney. How they kept the things fresh (alive) during the prolonged period between harvesting from the oyster bed and consumption at a Sydney table is a mystery.  At the time of the Paddons' arrival the total population of the Richmond district was only about 4000, with Casino, then the chief town with 300 people, Ballina with slightly less and Lismore with 275. Thereafter however, development was rapid and Lismore won the race to become the regional capital.

The growth of the oyster industry was in large part due to the endeavours of Athanasios and, upon his death in 1897, by his brother Ioannis (John), both dubbed ‘The Oyster Kings’. They broadened the concept of the 'oyster-saloon' and made the name ‘Comino’ almost synonymous with this type of restaurant, eventually dominating oyster marketing in NSW and supplying into southern Queensland. The oyster at this time seems to have been the staple diet of half Australia, with most cafes offering the things curried, stewed, devilled, fried and scalloped, pureed as a sauce for most meals, as 'Oyster Patties' or 'Oyster Pies', or even au natural for the uncivilized.

John Comino ultimately owned five shops in Sydney and seems to have had a financial interest in many others in country towns, most featuring 'Comino' in their trade name. His nephews, Mina and Nick Antonios Comino later of Lismore, continued the practice of staking new arrivals and were the silent partners in many businesses. Whether Peter Comino, who established the first Greek oyster saloons in Lismore (1903) and Casino (1904), was connected to Athanasios’ family is uncertain, but other Cominos who passed through were. Peter sourced his oysters from Brisbane and ‘Little River’, aka Evans Head, although the ‘Oyster Kings’ probably had pulled out of the Heads by then, possibly after the Fisheries Act of 1902 reformed the oyster industry, forcing lessees to make major improvements to sustainability or suffer confiscation. However, they continued to hold numerous other leases along the New South Wales coast, which could have included the Wooli Wooli River, 30 miles south of Yamba, also known as ‘Little River’, around where the Paraskos Bros of Woolgoolga acquired oyster leases, perhaps earlier Comino possessions. At the time of his death in 1919 John Comino owned over 40,000yds of oyster leases, from the Clarence to the Shoalhaven.

Until about 1920 Evans Head was still virgin heath country with walking tracks connecting the houses of the dozen or so oyster farming families. Around 1905 the Paddons opened a boarding house from where they retailed their oysters and dished them up as the main course to their guests. The Rosolen family, survivors of the Marquis de Ray’s New Guinea expedition, and amongst the foundation families of New Italy, south of Woodburn, established Evans Head’s first store in 1920 and the first restaurant in 1925. In the meantime the Paddons had diversified into Lobster wholesaling, eventually supplying the Brisbane markets after the opening of the single gauge rail line through Casino and Kyogle in late 1930. And 6mths later Jim Paddon reported one of his largest ever hauls of Schnapper, all of which went to the Sydney markets, implying the locals couldn’t match city prices during the Depression, despite the North Coast having an edge in standard-of-living over destitute Sydney.

Through the Depression, but mainly the summer holiday season, James Paddon & Pinneger remained the major retailers of fish, lobsters and oysters, offering fresh-from-the-sea Schnapper for 6d/ld at the same time the Lismore retailers were charging 7½d. Dick Paddon’s Fish Shop arrived on the scene in 1932 offering the classic ‘meals all hours', while John Rosolen continued to run his upmarket refreshment rooms and Mrs Crawford remained at The Kiosk until Kennedy Bros took over in 1932. In 1933 the Australian sculling champion, Snowy Burns, opened a café and in 1934 came Humphrey’s Oyster Saloon and Morgan’s Café in Oak St. Oddly, the Depression had little effect on a viable Surf Life Saving Club, having 278 members in 1932 and 254 in 1933, the majority from Casino, while the club at Brunswick Heads, a similar resort famed for its oysters, had folded in ~1930 and wasn’t revived until 1935.

Into this crowded market came Nick James Crethar, with his brother Harry of Lismore as a silent partner, when he built a shop in Oak Street in early 1935, although family folklore has it that he could have been intermittently trading here from ~1930. The café was only viable during the summer holiday season and it’s believed that Nick closed the place during the winter months and returned to Lismore to work with Harry. In late 1937 he sold out to John Nick Feros who went on to become an Evans Head identity with a diversified range of interests.

Johnny was a nephew of the Feros of Mullumbimby and a cousin of the Feros brothers of Lismore, Byron Bay and Ballina. He was born in the village of Mitata on Kythera in 1912, the eldest of three sons of Nick and Elessa Feros, and sponsored out by his uncle Alex in 1927. His father is believed to have spent 10 years in Australia, working with Alex and Basil at Mullum and Sydney, before returning to Kythera in the 1920s and begetting the last son after Johnny and his brother Peter had already left for Australia. He had warned Johnny that Australia was a strange country where people ate white bread, advice which Johnny appreciated when he had to enlarge the bakery during WW2 to meet the demands of the hungry airmen from the giant RAAF Base (not to forget the enlarged safe to accommodate the cash flow.)

Johnny and Peter worked all over the place, including stints as cooks for cane cutting teams in the fields of north Queensland, before arriving in Lismore in the early 1930s to work for uncles Basil and Alex Feros. Their uncles relocated to Sydney in the mid 1930s, at which time Johnny moved onto Casino for 6mths or so before settling at Evans Head, where he operated his cafe in the main street for the next 40 years. Peter is believed to have worked with Johnny for a while before he too moved to Sydney (and is believed to have been later deported for some odd reason!)

The café’s main custom still came from the summer holiday crowds and it wasn’t until the arrival of the WW2 RAAF base that it became a viable business all year round. Prior to this Johnny followed Nick Crethar’s convention of closing the café during the winter months and going back to his earlier itinerant lifestyle as a cook with the cane cutting teams, but this time closer to home in the plantations around Broadwater and Murwillumbah. [Curiously, pre war Evans Head only had a permanent population of about 250 yet supported another café (Phyllis Cribb, later A&R Holmes) and an Oyster Saloon (Richard Paddon) all year round. The Paddons still had a big commercial/wholesale operation.]

In 1938 Johnny lost his first wife Myra (nee Mills) to a bite from a Death Adder, leaving him in a difficult situation with his 1mth old daughter Elessa (Marie). Marie was subsequently raised at Murwillumbah by her Mills grandparents who were helped out financially by their neighbours, John and Stephen Comino, and other members of the Murbah Greek community. Subsequent marriages produced five more children. Johnny grew away from the Greek community, partly because of his isolation down at Evans Head and partly through his style of doing business.

John Feros ~1925

John and Myra Feros,
Evans Head ~1935.

(Photos courtesy Marie Mills)

From the time of the establishment of the WW2 RAAF base, Johnny’s Cafe in Oak Street was a landmark and hangout for generations of people, young and old, and until recently the arcade where the café once stood carried the name Johnny’s Arcade. Evans Head became the largest RAAF training base in Australia and at its peak during WW2 was allegedly home to more than 5000 personnel. It was also the major bombing and gunnery range in Australia and remained so for many years post WW2. The Fishermen's Co-operative was formed in 1946, followed shortly afterwards by the introduction of deep-sea trawling for prawns. The industry rapidly expanded, with up to 50 trawlers operating at times.

Over the years Johnny also acquired a lot of property around the village, including the site at the corner of Oak and Woodburn Streets where a complex of shops was developed and, in the 1970s, he built the block of flats in Park Street next to the Illawong Hotel. The tubular furniture and cabinet manufacturing business he started in the late 1940s, which included the design and construction of his own billiard tables that could be found in almost every hotel in the region, grew into a substantial company.

In the 1970s his entrepreneurial flair led him to branching out into the manufacture of pinball machines, which were placed in numerous amusement arcades, pinball parlours and cafes up and down the coast and on the tablelands by his company North Coast Amusement Machines’. At the same time he bought another café in Casino, which was run by family members, and one at Woodburn, which he leased out. His company ‘North Coast Chrome Products’ manufactured the cradles and cabinets for the machines at his factory at Evans Head. He went to his reward from the Heads in 1994, aged 83.

Nick and Helen are his only children remaining at Evans Head and still involved in the catering game through their inheritance of the Woodburn café. His daughter Marie is still obliquely connected to the café business through her inheritance of the two-storey building at 148 Walker Street, Casino, which she now leases out. This building has two rented flats above the Country Road café.

Evans Head was the main holiday outlet for those at Casino and Kyogle, a tradition established by a Kyogle identity as early as 1905. It remained a quiet backwater through to the 1970s; the fishing fleet, fisherman’s co-op and RAAF bombing range being its mainstays, apart from the summer holiday makers and day trippers whose numbers grew progressively with the post war growth in motor car usage, but today it is allegedly the fastest growing seaside town in NSW.



An oyster saloon was established here around 1905, but the first clearly identifiable Greeks were 17yr old Sid Mick Laesos, aka Megallos and Conomo (Megaloconomo), and 20yr old Con Peter Caridis when they took command of the café next door to Watt’s Pharmacy on Richmond Terrace in mid 1908, then giving the place a makeover and an official relaunch on Regatta Day, 7Oct1908. It looks like Sid was the gaffer, with the business registered in his name, while the lesser-experienced Con manned the kitchen. Sid (the brother of Angelo Mick Megaloconomos (Caponas) of Stanthorpe, the brother-in-law of Harry Tsicalas of nearby Warwick) had landed from Kythera in 1902 and completed a long apprenticeship with Peters & Co (Spiro Peter Panaretto) at Inverell prior to this journeyman phase of his course, while Con had played truant from the Peters & Co classroom after 11mths. However, they only lasted 6mths or so, probably due arguments over the washing up. Sid moved onto Gunnedah and Con onto Wagga, leaving Peter Harry Flaskas with their Elite Cafe in Bugden's Building. 

Flaskas had landed as a 23yr old in 1902 and spent 3yrs in Sydney until moving to Brisbane where he acquired The City Oyster Palace near Her Majesty's Theatre in Queen Street in Jul05, marrying Hannah Conroy of Ipswich that same year. In late 1907 he took up employment with his Cordatos cousins in Casino and in Aug08 moved across to Lismore to work for Peter Comino until coming to Coraki in early 1909. Shortly after the death of their 3yr old daughter in Oct09 they moved to Bundaberg where Peter initially worked for John Comino (earlier of Lismore) until taking up employment with the Bundaberg Dairy Co-op.

Richmond Terrace 1909
(All buildings between and inclusive of Sheridan's Store and the Commercial Hotel destroyed 1911)
(Courtesy Mid-Richmond Historical Society)

Thereafter the Greek presence is a mystery until George Khlentzos (aka Hlenzos/Clenzos) turned up in late 1910. But he was wiped out in Jan1911 when half the CBD along Richmond Terrace was swept away in a fire, the most disastrous on the North Coast after that of Murwillumbah in 1907. He lived above the shop and lost everything, except the shirt and trousers he managed to put on before escaping and 11 pence he found in the rubble afterwards. He was uninsured but hopefully had savings in the bank. His detached kitchen somehow survived total destruction and here he lived and continued to trade as a fruiterer for a while, at least until the clean up started and rebuilding commenced. His new shop was completed in Jul11, but 5mths later he sold out to Mrs Stanford and presumably drifted to Lismore where he was identified as a cook at the Olympia Café in mid 1916. In late 1916 he opened his own business in Woodlark Street, Lismore, and subsequently made the fatal mistake of going into partnership with the savvy Athena Andrulakis, who had brought the next Greek presence to Coraki in early 1914.

George possibly has some connection to Peter Emmanuel Hlentzos (Baugris), who was in the district at the time. Peter, born in Christoforianika in 1896, was a classic Kytherian wanderer, landing in late 1912 and spending a few years in Sydney and Bombala learning the trade and the language prior to spending short periods moving between Cooma, Quirindi, Lismore, Bangalow, Grafton, Ballina, West Wyalong and Hay, before finally settling at Cooma in 1920. Maybe also connected was the earlier Kytherian Peter Vasili Clenzos who spent about a year in Lismore and Casino in 1909 before making his way to the cane fields of North Queensland.

Anthea Andrulakis seems to have acquired an oyster saloon on Richmond Terrace, freehold or leasehold uncertain, around Feb1914, just after her return from Sydney, and a few months later leased it to her long-time associate, Theo Dimitri Bangi (Vangis). He was born on Kythera in 1877, but at 9yrs of age left to live and work in Egypt and Athens before landing in Sydney in 1907. He had been in Lismore for 2yrs working for Peter Comino when he acquired, or took over the management of, the Andrulakis fruiterer’s business further down Woodlark Street upon Athena’s move to Sydney. He relocated to Bangalow around mid 1912 to open an Oyster Saloon, probably in an Andrulakis building, and passed the Lismore business to Athena’s son, Forte Christian Lakis. He handed the Bangalow business to Athena around late 1914, and came here to take proprietorship of the Richmond Cafe, giving the place a makeover and introducing the latest solid marble soda fountain... to offer drinks at 3d a glass. (Competition came from Chemist O.D.Ward of The Coraki Pharmacy who had provided an AMERICAN SODA FOUNTAIN where Cool Drinks can be obtained all hours of the day... in Dec11.)

An early Bangi employee was Jack Conomos (Ioannis Megaloconomos) who turned up from Lismore sometime in 1916. He had landed as a 16yr old in 1911 and wandered around Musswellbrook, Scone and Tenterfield before arriving in Lismore to work for Andronicos Bros & Comino in early 1914. He is probably the same Jack Jim Conomo, son of Dimitri and Andriana (nee Megaloconomos), who went on to establish the Crystal Palace Cafe at Glen Innes around 1920, trading as Conomos & Frangis, the latter probably a corruption of Frangeskakis/Frantzeskakis. In 1922 he sponsored his sisters, Natalia and Maria, who married the respective George Peter Crithary and Nick Emmanuel Kalokerinos at Glen Innes 2yrs later. (Also connected was Anthony Notaras of Grafton who married Jack's first cousin, Ianthe Megaloconomos.) In the early 1930s Jack re-established at Barraba, from where he moved to Boggabri in 1940 to take over the cafe of George and Natalia, in the meantime marrying Irene Kalligeris, the sister of Con and Peter, the Cinema Czars of Boggabri. (The Critharys then moved across the road to open a newsagency in their own freehold building, but in 1950 also joined the ranks of the Greek film entrepreneurs by acquiring the Victory Theatre at Toronto.) (And by the bye, Con Kalligeris married Eleni Andronicos, the daughter of Con and Stamatia, nee Tsicalas, the sister of Harry and George.)

Bangi moved onto Wauchope in late 1916, selling the business, by then known as The Richmond Café, ...‘The Leading House in Coraki’..., to a mysterious Con Bousgas/Drougas of Tripolis in the Peloponnese, who could have some connection to Apostolos Sotirios Druzas who turned up on the ‘Richmond River’ in early 1910 and remained for nearly a year before moving onto Brisbane. Druzas was born at Tripolis in 1875 and landed in Melbourne in 1904, possibly on his second trip to Australia, and made his way north in late 1909. He and the Carkagis brothers of Ballina and Mullumbimby can perhaps be credited with the subsequent settlement of many Tripolitzans in the Richmond-Tweed region.

Bangi subsequently joined the Greek theatre club, operating a cinema in Wauchope’s Gleeson Hall, thence one at Werris Creek and another in South Brisbane before settling in Sydney, where he married an Australian girl in 1923. (Possibly connected is Edwin John Bange who had the Coraki Picture Theatre through the 1940s into the 50s?)


Coraki 1917
(Recruiting drive top and
flood bottom)

Both Sheridan's and Claffy's Buildings
destroyed in another fire Feb1919.
(Neither housed a cafe.)
In 1917 A. Cork sold his Refreshment
Rooms to E. Davis. Location Unknown.
Location of Chinese Greengrocery
unknown. (Sam Sing sold to Wong Tow
in 1920.)
In 1919 J.F. Moses relocated his
Coraki Cafe
to new location on
Richmond Terrace near
'The Ballina Small Goods Shop'.
(In 1926 his place was known as
Mose's Restaurant and
Small Goods Shop.)

M. Turner opened Refreshment Rooms
at unknown location ~1920.
In 1930 the building housing
G.V. McKenzie's cafe on the corner of
Attwood and Richmond Terrace went
up in smoke. This was the only building
on the block to survive the fire of 1911.

(Photos courtesy
Mid-Richmond Historical Society


Around mid 1917 Bougas/Bousgas moved out and handed over to the mysterious C. Chellis, who could be Christos Chellas (Tselas) who arrived from Tripolis in 1912 and finally settled in Orange. In 1918 came another mystery man, M. Malano, who remains an elusive character but could be a typo for the Kytherian George Ioannis Malano who was definitely here in 1918. George was born in Milopotamos in 1884 and landed in 1913 after 7yrs in Chicago where he had been based during his many years working as a stoker on ships plying between England, America and Australia. By 1916 he was managing partner of the Coffs Harbour Jetty Cafe with his brother-in-law, Peter Glytsos (Gleeson), trading as Peters & Co, but in mid 1917 they went their separate ways and George wandered off to Wingham for a year or so before acquiring the Coraki business. In early 1919 he and his fellow villager, Peter Nick Megaloconomos (Conomos), decided to test the market at Kyogle, passing the Coraki cafe to J. Geise.

Geise/Giese was a German immigrant who needed a change in employment after losing his hand in a sawmill accident. He in turn sold out two years later to Cornelius Lakis, Athena’s son Foiti, (aka Christian and Constantine), who seems to have re-added the fruit sideline to the café and outfitted the place to cater for large functions, weddings and such. He became Secretary of the Coraki Rowing Club and a leading figure in the business community. In Nov1921 he won the contract to cater for a 270 person banquet to celebrate the opening of the new Coraki Cooperative Butter Factory. Nevertheless, he too was another short duration player, perhaps indicating that it was difficult to earn a quid in the Coraki market, and sold out to Mr C. Lean in early 1922 and moved to Brisbane. At this time there appears to be only two other catering outlets in Coraki, J. F. Moses with the Coraki Café on Richmond Terrace and M. Turner with a café at an unknown location, while Wong Tow seems to have continued the long-term Chinese presence in the fruit and green grocery business. But sometime afterwards Mr Septemis McKenzie arrived on the scene to open or acquire a café in the three-shop building on the corner of Allwood Street and Richmond Terrace (at least until he was burnt out in late 1930.)

Nick Dimitri Crethar turned up in mid to late 1926 to take over from Lean and return a Greek presence, although it’s possible that Harry Nick Crethar could have had interim custody between selling up in Ballina in 1925 and resettling in Lismore. In 1927 Nick’s sister, Artemis, came to Coraki straight off the boat, but a little after her marriage in 1929 Nick seems to have sold up and moved to Lismore, so ending the Greek presence in Coraki (although folklore has it that Nick may have continued to trade here into the early 1930s during his alleged ‘off season’ period at Evans Head.)

By this time Coraki was well into the doldrums, being amongst the few towns on the Richmond to have suffered a population loss between 1921 and 1933, down 10% to 1231 stalwart souls, the Depression census that year recording an unemployment rate of 19%, second only to Ballina as the worst affected town in the region. A feature of the late 1920s was the business desperation, with three attempts to resurrect the Chamber of Commerce, and the banning of all street stalls and hawkers from town, a measure only emulated by Tenterfield amongst all the major towns of Northern NSW. (This was illegal, but didn’t deter the Corakians. In mid 1930 the North Coast Federated Chamber of Commerce sought clarification through Budd MLA. All of the member chambers wanted to ban itinerant hawkers, but they were advised that it wasn’t possible under current regulations.)

(And one of Tenterfield's leading anti-hawkers was George Tsicalas who, in late 1932, whinged to the Tenterfield Star that ... I have resided in Australia for 28 years, and consider I am a British subject ... Where is the vaunted British fair play? These hawkers go from door to door, and say, in effect, "Why buy from the dago," but when the glut has disappeared and fruit becomes dearer, will his lorry continue to come to Tenterfield and sell at a loss? ... Just about six months ago a Chinese was fined £7 for selling one cabbage from his cart in the main street of Lismore. What applies to Lismore must certainly apply here....)

Coraki was poorly served by the unemployment relief grants, having to lobby hard to get £200 from the Federal grant of Christmas 1930 after the money thrown its way during the pork-barrelling grants of the Oct30 election ran out. The money gave 3 gangs of 13 men, made up from the 50 blokes who assembled, a week’s work on the roads, paid at 2/1½d per hr for the 35hr week. (Woodburn got £250.)

On 1Jan34 its 42yr reign as an independent municipality ended when it became ‘D Riding’ within Woodburn Shire, mainly due to agitation from the farmers supporting the place with a disproportionate share of the rates to keep the place functioning. The unimproved capital value, upon which the rates were based, had fallen from £95,041 in 1922 to £39,791 in 1932, at which time there were 229 ratepayers and 488 electors on the municipal roll, living in 242 houses, a decrease of 27 in the last 11yrs. Woodburn Shire itself, almost on its overdraft limit, was looking shaky with 60% of its estimated income for 1934 made up of rate arrears of £5572.

Its major industry, the butter co-op, was one of the naughty factories sprung selling into Queensland during the Paterson Equalization Scheme arguments of 1930/31. Like elsewhere in the dairy industry the factory gained more suppliers over the Depression period as desperates figured share farming was a cheap and easy way of buying a job. By late 1932 there were 294 suppliers, a gain of 6 in less than 12mths. Alas, it was floundering and absorbed into Norco in 1934, bringing Norco’s portfolio to 20 factories, and leaving the Casino Co-op and Foley Bros Proprietary Company as the only competition.

Coraki had the potential to become one of the larger towns on the north coast but the rail and road network passed it by and it lost its prominence as a major port town on the Richmond, while still remaining the centre of commerce for the wider area. The population continued to decline, reaching 650 by the mid 1960s before starting a slow recovery.


The first Greek café didn’t come to South Woodburn until mid 1916 when Nick Peter Theodorakakis opened Theodore’s Refreshment Rooms next to Ciardelli’s Richmond Hotel. He and wife Zaharo (nee Andronicos), with young sons Peter and Theo in tow, landed from the Kytherian village of Kousounari in 1913, going direct to Lismore to work for Zaharo’s brothers at the Olympia Café. It seems Zaharo and the boys followed her brothers to Muswellbrook in 1915 while Nick elected to stay. She apparently took over the management of the Andronicos branch at Denman for a while, but it’s understood she was the Miss Z. Theodore of Coolangatta from whom fellow Kousounarian and Murbah identity, Nick Koukoulis, acquired his café in ~1924. She subsequently had a deli in Balmain where she is fondly remembered for her food handouts in the Depression.

Nick got into a spot of bother with sexual shenanigans and in Jan17 Boosgas/Bousgas/Drougas/Druzas of Coraki assumed command of his cafe, making the 4th feedlot under the Boosgas umbrella; the Coraki one still next Whyte's Pharmacy, another at 112 The Corso, Manly, and another at 865 George Street, Sydney. Nick Theodore probably remained as manager, but it's understood he had joined his family at Denman/Muswellbrook by late 1917.

George Peter Catsoulis and his eldest son Peter arrived in town to take up a cafe  in late 1917, presumably implying Boosgas disposed of his Woodburn business shortly after off-loading the Coraki cafe to Chellis. They had landed from the Kytherian village of Katsoulianika via Toulon in France in 1913, aged 45 and 14 respectively. But while George went to Katoomba for a couple of years, thence Sydney for a couple more, Peter took himself off to Lockhart to work for his Catsoulis cousins before they both met up again at South Woodburn.

It seems Peter was the gaffer by this time. In his ~5yrs at Lockhart he had saved £110 and thought it was time he branched out on his own. Allegedly he had heard on the grapevine of the café for sale at Woodburn for £200, but was more likely pointed in this direction by his Lismore/Casino cousins who found the place for him. He and his father stayed here for about 20mths, selling out for a profit and acquiring a business at Ballina, which was registered in Peter’s name. However, they only sojourned for 7mths, once again making a capital gain upon selling up, before finally settling at Wyong in early to mid 1920, acquiring the freehold and establishing a mixed business.

Woodburn Cafe ~1919
Presumably George Catsoulis top
and son Peter bottom.
(Courtesy Maria Costadopoulos-Hill
http://www.cybernaut.com.au/greeksinoz/ )


Thereafter there is a mystery Greek presence at Woodburn until Harry Lakis advertised in Mar20 that he Wanted known, that the Richmond Cafe is now under entirely new management... next the chemist shop. It was initially under the auspices of Lakis Bros and it could be that Con manned the counter for a period after selling out of Coraki and before settling in Brisbane. Nevertheless, Harry became the main face of the business sometime in the early 1920s and was trading from the Rendezvous Cafe through to late 1932 when he sold out to Peter Cooley (Koultis) of Mytilini and moved to Bangalow. (The mid 1933 census disclosed three Greek-born males in the Woodburn Shire, but who they were is a puzzle.)

Harry went into competition with his chemist neighbour in mid 1922  when the two cafes in town started to go the American route as embryo Drug Stores. The Lakis café became agents for Ballina & District Chemists and Druggists’ Supply Co. Ltd, carrying all classes of Patent Medicines etc..., while W. McLean’s café became the licensed agents for W. J. Bouttell, chemist and druggist of Coraki, carrying a range of his stock of drugs, patent medicines, Kodak supplies etc. The concept doesn’t seem to have caught on in Australia and by the late 1920s the Woodburn cafes had reverted to being pure refreshment providers, although laws requiring a qualified chemist to supervise the dispensing of anything smacking of ‘poisonous drugs’ may have ended the practice. (Note the above photo showing a primitive 'front service' soda fountain draft arm on the counter with, presumably, various bottled essences on the shelves behind, some of which could be 'medicinal' concoctions.)

Corner Pacific Highway and Cedar Street ~1930
(All buildings from the Empire Hotel to Redwood's Store, representing half of Woodburn's business block, were destroyed in a 1936 fire.
Lakis buildings/shops are between the Garage and Cafe. Redwoods is now the site of an IGA Store.)
(Courtesy Woodburn Visitor Information Centre)

Harry covered all bases and was a ‘High Class Tobacconist’, agent for HMV and Columbia phonographs and records, stockist of fishing tackle, and an outspoken member of the Chamber of Commerce, his most persistent lectures to do with moving the Shire headquarters from Coraki to Woodburn. But the wages of the shire staff being spent in South Woodburn, where most of the businesses were sited and where the ucv had fallen from £17,346 in 1929 to £16,447 in 1932, would have made little difference to income, continuing his reliance on the passing highway trade. At the time the work relief schemes of mid 1932 got underway the Woodburn police were issuing ~300 ration coupons per month, after which 100 men got work on the Swan Bay levee scheme, with the financially stretched shire contributing its horse and carts in lieu of money as a condition of the grants. The shire proclaimed 1934 as the turnaround, approving £9000 worth of developments, (17 cottages and 5 shops, almost half of which were at Evans Head), the best year since 1929.

The Lakis owned three freehold buildings at Woodburn, two in Harry’s name and one in Athena’s. In mid 1936, with Peter Cooley (late of Hay) well-entrenched in the cafe business, their three buildings went up in smoke along with three others in a fire with a total damage bill of £6000. The bucket brigade of 60 people had no luck, and there was just mopping up to do by the time the Coraki fire brigade arrived. At this time Athena’s building was unoccupied and uninsured, while both of Harry’s were occupied, Cooley in one and a hairdresser/fancy goods business in the other, but only insured for £650. Cooley also was insured but whether it covered the loss/damage of £750 worth of furniture and fittings is a mystery. Nevertheless, his shop was rebuilt and he continued trading at Woodburn until moving to Lismore after his cafe, by then known as The Empire, was wiped out in the 1945 cyclone.


Aftermath of 1945 Cyclone
(Lakis family had sold buildings to right of Empire by this time)
(Courtesy Woodburn Visitor Information Centre)

Thereafter there appears to be no Greek presence until Johnny Feros acquired a café in the 1970s. By then the population growth rate had started to increase after years in the doldrums, at least on the southern side of the river, although the passing highway trade had continued to provide a livelihood to the cafes for many years. The combined population of South and North Woodburn, including immediate environs, had peaked in 1921 with 942 people, reaching a low of 510 in 1960 before beginning a recovery.

Nowadays the only Greek presence is through Bill Gouros from Kalamata, in the state of Messina in the Peloponnese, who began farming at Bungawalgin, between Coraki and Woodburn, around 1960, retiring to nearby Bora Ridge in 2000.

There appears to be no Greek presence further down the river in the sugar town of Broadwater where the population was larger than those of Coraki and Woodburn in the early days. The huge CSR mill at Broadwater contributed to the growth of the village and the labour-intensive sugar plantations. It could have been the largest town on the lower Richmond, but, alas, like Coraki never fulfilled its potential. As early as 1890 Broadwater School had an enrolment of 144, and the mill, working around the clock with two shifts, was providing seasonal work for people living at Evans Head, Woodburn, Coraki, Wardell and Ballina. The town supported four hotels, several halls, churches, a picture theatre and a racecourse. By at least 1906 however, Woodburn was the largest centre, and continued to grow as the commercial centre of the district while   places like Wardell and Broadwater suffered with the lean years of the cane industry. By the 1920s things had stabilized and for the 1924-25 season the Lower Richmond produced 94,000 tons off 5000 acres, although there were 10,000 acres under cultivation, which generated a return of £190,000 to growers and £42,000 to the cutters (28 x 11 man gangs). In reporting these stats the Northern Star noted that the Lower Richmond was a closely settled area with a strong and virile population – a population having true Australian ideas and ideals and being prepared to stand, to the last ditch, for a White Australia Policy, and all that it means. The Richmond growers had always been proud that they had never succumbed to the horrors of Kanaka and Hindoo labour to the extent of their Tweed competitors.



First Contact

The earliest Greek presence in Ballina, and probably the whole North Coast Region, is recorded with the conditional purchase of 60 acres at Cumberland (County of Rous, Parish of Ballina) by Matthew Perry in 1882. He was born in the Ionian Islands in 1833 and is likely to be the Ithacan seaman who jumped ship in Melbourne in 1868. He married Lucy Calder in Lismore in 1885 and begat six children, the descendants of whom have multiplied throughout the region. The 1891 census, showing Matthew living at Emigrant Creek near Alstonville, lists two Greeks living in the Municipality of Ballina, but the second bloke remains elusive. Matthew died in Ballina in 1914, predeceasing Lucy who passed on in 1952 aged 87.

While there's a remote chance that George Nichols, proprietor of the Australian Restaurant in River St, could be the elusive Greek, John George Kalachoff, born at Sevastapol in the Black Sea in 1851, sounds more appropriate, although he wasn’t positively identified in Ballina until 1904. He landed in Sydney from London in 1880 and died at Ballina in 1928, leaving 4 sons and 2 daughters. He was recorded as a fish vendor in Ballina through to his death, perhaps retailing through a cafe. His son George became a bootmaker and saddler in Bangalow while his son Spiro later settled at Kyogle as a baker (but is probably the Sperie Kalachell reported as being in financial trouble at Coraki in 1934.)

Around 1905/06 a bloke simply identified by the surname Constantine, possibly Greek, was running refreshment rooms in River Street, but seems to have moved on within a year or so. Coincidental with his disappearance, the 27yr old Arcadian, Dimitrios Spiridon Karakatzis/Karkanztis/Karkazis, arrived from Sydney, via short sojourns in Bathurst and Bega, in Oct07 to introduce a Greek Oyster Saloon. (In February that year he and Alex Lakis, Athena's eldest son, were in the employ of Anthony Comino of Pitt St., Sydney, when they got in a spot of bother in trying to extract payment from a customer unhappy with his stewed oysters.)

Dimitri (Jim) acquired Masters' Ballina Oyster Saloon and Refreshment Rooms in River Street on behalf of Carkagis Bros, but 12mths later moved onto Maclean with his younger brother, Sam, passing the Ballina business to his elder brother, Peter, who came across from Mullumbimby and began trading as P. Cargagis. Peter, born in the village of Rizas/Rizes near Tripolis/Tripolitza in 1874, landed in Sydney in 1907, but family folklore (and the book 'I Zoi en Afstralia' - Life in Australia) has it that he and Jim had an earlier visit to Australia, part of which was trying their luck as a gold prospectors at Marble Bar in WA.

In 1910 Carkagis Bros sold both outlets and Peter returned to Mullumbimby with Jim and Sam to purchase the business of Theo Patras, his employer in 1907. However, he only stayed through to about 1914 before separating from his brothers and re-establishing in the Tripolitsian enclave on The Corso, Manly. Shortly afterwards he left the business in the hands of compatriot Antonios Louison and returned home to Rizas upon receipt of the unfortunate news of his wife's death.

Panayiotis Spyridon Karkanztis ~1913
(Courtesy 'Life in Australia'
which states Peter and Jim landed in 1898 and implies they were staked into the Mullumbimby and Manly businesses by, and perhaps became partners in, the Anglo-American Co, founded in Sydney in late 1912 by fellow Tripolitzians, Antonios Iliopoulos (aka Loizos and Louison) and the Soulos Bros - Peter and Con Panopoulos. By 1914 Anglo-American was boasting 4 shops in Sydney and 1 at Manly.)
They were all closely interconnected. Jim Carkagis re-landed in 1902 and ~3yrs later acquired a cafe at Bathurst in partnership with a compatriot, Angelo Dimitri Karanges, aka Tarifas/Bourtzos/Burgess (and probably Boosgas/etc), which they passed to Con Soulos ~1907. In 1914 Soulos passed it to George Pappas who took over the Carkagis cafe at Mullumbimby in 1922.
But the Carkagis Bros were the odd men out in this neck of the woods, being swamped in a sea of Kytherians. The vast majority of their compatriots from the villages around Tripolis were the pioneering Greek regional group in the USA, dominating in much the same way the Kytherians came to monopolise Greek businesses throughout NSW and Queensland.

Because of WW1 and aftermath, Peter was unable to return until January 1921, by which time he had remarried a fellow villager, Vasiliki Chiaculas and had one son, Spiro, born in 1918. They re-established themselves at The Corso and in early 1922 were joined by Jim and Sam after they sold the Mullumbimby shop to George Pappas, although Jim seems to have been a silent partner from time to time - with a separate cafe at Circular Quay in the mid 1920s and a partnership with George Soulos in a cafe next to the Enmore theatre in the late 1920s. Nevertheless, Carkagis Bros traded at The Corso for the next 13yrs before returning to this region in the mid 1930s to take over the Canberra Café in Lismore from Jack Feros. By this time Peter’s family included Dimitri (Jim 1921), Eugenia (Vera 1922), Elias (Lou 1924), Vasilios (Bill 1926), Maria (1928) and Pamela (1929). Jim and Sam never married and Peter’s descendants are now the only bearers of the Carkagis name in Australia.

The most substantial café in town from about 1912 to the early war years appears to be that of the Syrian Charles Koorey with the Cosmopolitan Café in River Street, rebuilt sometime after a fire in 1909 and boasting that ‘It is the largest and most up-to-date place of its kind outside of the Metropolis’. His likely brother, G. Koorey, had a draper’s shop next door.

The first Kytherian was Kharalambos Kritharis (Crethar), the eldest son of Vretos and Efrosine (nee Coroneos), born 1887 in the northern village of Karavas. He reached Sydney in late 1907 after a stay in Athens and came to Ballina in early 1909, allegedly acquiring a fruit shop in River Street, about where Wallace & Co now stands. But at that time there were six fruiterers and two refreshment rooms in town and Harry is not listed under any until recorded as proprietor of an Oyster Saloon and Cafe in 1911. More than likely he was an employee of Peter Carkagis and bought the business when the Carkagis Bros moved to Mullumbimby in 1910. In that year he was joined by his 18yr old brother Minas (Menus) and in early 1914 by his 17yr old brother Angelo. Menus however, returned to Greece in 1913, probably prompted by the Balkan Wars, and subsequently served with distinction on the British destroyer ‘Latona’ and on the staff of Vice Admiral Kerr in Salonika for the duration of WW1, earning many commendations for his services as an interpreter.

Their father had been a lighthouse keeper at Karavas and died in 1907 as a result of a faulty discharge while dynamiting fish, a supplemental source of income for his large family of 15 children.  More of his children and grandchildren later settled in Australia, particularly in Lismore and district where the Crethar clan became the most numerous of all Greek families. Harry, who became a good friend of Matthew Perry, was a popular figure in the town and when he died during the Spanish Flu epidemic in Ballina in 1919 was one of the rare people to warrant an obituary in the Northern Star. Throughout 1918/19 the Northern Star was recording a Spanish Flu death rate of one person per day at times.


Crethar's Cafe ~1912
Harry Crethar with man's best friend.

(Courtesy 'Life in Australia')

A few years later Angelo moved to Lismore and started the family’s long association with that city. Menus however, returned from soldiering in 1920 and the folklore goes that there was some controversy over the division of the spoils from Harry’s Will. Allegedly Angelo got the bulk of the estate and thereafter there was bad blood between the two. Kosher or not, the Ballina Oyster Saloon had morphed into Crethar’s Sundae Shop by late 1919 and was registered in Angelo’s name, but 3yrs later was advertising as Crethar Bros Refreshment Rooms, even though the company registration remained A. Crethar & Co. It’s hard to get a handle on Angelo’s business machinations; then and later he had a whole series of convoluted trade names, partnerships and other odd management arrangements. In early 1922, after a 6 to 8mths sojourn in Brisbane, Menus settled in Tamworth (where he married the Beauty Queen Maria Vangi), but whether he retained any share in the Ballina business is a mystery.

Their cousin, Harry Nicholas Crethary, arrived in town in mid 1920 and seems to have been installed as manager, although there’s a vague understanding he was an equal partner in the business. He was certainly managing the business in 1923 after Angelo moved to Lismore. He sold the business to Comino Bros, on his own or Angelo’s behalf, in Jul24 and also moved to Lismore, possibly via a sojourn at Coraki. Another likely cousin, George Peter Crithary, worked intermittently in Ballina whilst based in Lismore and Casino over the period 1918-22.

  Crethar's Sundae Shop 1920
George Peter Crithary far right.

(Courtesy Gloria Weston)

Also from Karavas was Nick Angelo Coroneos (Crones), who landed as an 18yr old in 1923 and came directly to Ballina to work for Angelo Vic and/or Harry Nick. He spent 18mths here before moving to Lismore and becoming one of Angelo’s long-time managers and later his partner in various ventures.


 'The Garden Room'
Crethar's Sundae Shop

Christmas 1919.
Believed to be Angelo Crethar
sitting foreground.

(Courtesy Gloria Weston)



In late 1919 came Peter George Katsoulis and his father to establish a rival Greek café, the Bon Marche Fruit & Candy Shop in the centre of River Street. They had abandoned Woodburn after only ~20mths, but trading at Ballina doesn’t seem to have been much better as they had moved on to Wyong near Gosford within 7mths.

Bon Marche Fruit & Candy Shop ~1920
(Courtesy Ballina Library)


They managed to off-load to Mrs Kendall in early 1920, but shortly afterwards she passed it to another Karavitiko, Andrew Nick Venardos, who had come to town in late 1916 to work for Harry Vic Crethar. He was 20yrs old when he landed in mid 1910, perhaps with Menus Crethar, and had spent all his time in Sydney working for his brother Jim (Stamati Barnardo) in a large café in George Street, until being prompted to come to Ballina. He sold out to the Feros Bros in Dec23, eventually settling in Warwick with the Warwick Cafe, marrying Chrisanthy Diacopoulou and begetting Doris who wed Jim Alex Samios of Kyogle, both taking over the Bellevue Café in Warwick in 1959. Andrew’s brother Peter married Kyranee Zantiotis, the sister of Ernie and George of Casino. Their son, Stavros, later came to Casino, sponsored by Ernie and George. Everybody interconnects.

Andrew’s brother, Dimitrios Nick Benardos, who landed from Karavas in early 1906, old-aged at 27, had a short sojourn in Ballina in early 1910 between leaving Murbah and establishing a shop in Sydney. He initially had spent 2yrs in Sydney and then seems to have become a farmer around Bundaberg for a year or so until moving to Brisbane and thence to Murbah in late 1909 to work for Theo Andronicos.

They are probably both connected to Theo Dimitri Banardos who landed in 1910, aged 26, and went straight to Casino to work for the Cordatos. He remained for 2yrs and then wandered all over the place until finally settling at remote Moulamein in 1927.

And they in turn are probably connected to Dimitri Anastasios Zantiotis who landed from Karavas in 1910, aged 17, and came to Ballina around 1913, remaining for a couple of years until returning to Sydney to work for Dimitri Benardos. In the mid 1920s he and brother Andreas introduced the Zantiotis to Gunnedah, where their descendants still run the Busy Bee Café. They are cousins of the Zantiotis who established at Casino in 1936 and whose descendants also remain well-known citizens.

Yet another Karavavito in the area at the time was George Nicholas Diacopoulos, the brother-in-law of Andrew Venardos, and maybe working for Andrew when he was recorded in town in late 1920. He landed in mid 1912, aged 18, and was on walkabout for many years until a more lengthy stay with his cousins at Gosford around 1921 and thence to his own cafe in Grafton. His cousin, Nick John Diacopoulos, was 14yrs old when he landed in 1914 and went direct to Lismore for a year or so, eventually settling at Gosford around 1920 where he and his brothers subsequently built the giant complex called PNA House in 1950. (PNA = Peter, Nick and Angelo)

Kritharis, Coroneos, Vanges, Diacopoulos, Souris, Tzortzopoulos and Zantiotis make up the main families of Karavas, from where almost three quarters of the remaining population migrated to Australia and America after WW2. The Kytherians were the main Greek regional group around the Richmond, but within the Kytherian cohort the Karavitikos dominated.

By the early 1920s the manpower intensive café/restaurant/oyster saloon concept seems to have been losing favour and most proprietors were changing the orientation of their businesses, concentrating on the simpler formula of providing confectionery and light refreshments for the holiday makers rather than meals to the home market, although the traditional grills and hot meals remained on the menu. An advertising blitz through the Northern Star, with a daily circulation of about 7500, reached most of the Far North Coast’s potential holiday makers and café customers. The Crethar Bros transformed into Crethar’s Sundae Shop and the traditional Australian ‘refreshment rooms’ increasingly emphasised their ‘summer confections’, although continuing to highlight the 'restaurant' side of the business more so than the Greeks. Stirling’s Premier Restaurant, taken over by Hurford of North Lismore in mid 1920, and Morton’s My Colonial Refreshment Rooms, taken over by a bloke named Weekley around the same time, continued to serve traditional fare. The market was getting very competitive. Interestingly, at the time the Crethars moved out two other refreshment room proprietors, Oddie and Piggott, also relocated to Bangalow. By this time Ballina’s growth rate had levelled off, having lost a lot of its shipping trade to Byron Bay, which also had the advantage of a rail line to feed its port with growing trade to and from the Richmond hinterland. Between 1911-21 Ballina’s population grew 34% (2061 to 2768), but over the next 12yrs could only manage a growth of 10%, while overall the Richmond came in at 25%.

Ballina – Feros

The Greek changing of the guard occurred in 1925 with the Comino Bros leaving town in late 1925 following a disastrous housekeeping report from the local health inspector, leaving Feros Bros as the only Greek presence in town, at which time strong River Street cafe competition was coming from the refreshment rooms of Mrs Riley (who guaranteed Fresh Oysters Daily), Mrs A Lattimore (advertising that Australian’s help Australians, so why worry. Lattimores are Australian, so come to Lattimores…), G.H. Burns (opposite the Bank of Australasia), Fred Surtees with the Ballina Fish, Oyster and Bait Depot near the Centennial Hall, Hair's Refreshment Rooms (Mrs A.E. Hair & Co claiming The only place in Ballina where the LILY hygienic paper cup is used, and Mr Hair urging people to try his Famous Machine Made Bread), and H.O. Williams with a cafe somewhere or other (possibly trading from the Old Bank Refreshment Rooms), while Mrs and Miss Murray had the East Ballina Kiosk, Mr Wells with a kiosk at the Ballina Baths, and Mrs Lattimore also with a kiosk outlet at South Beach. The following year Maloney Bros opened The Growers Cafe and Mrs B.E. Dooley opened the White Rose Cafe near the Commonwealth Bank, while Hewitt's fruit, confectionery and tobacco shop arrived to compete with McDonald's... the Fruit Man of River Street.

The Cominos were Nick and Chris, two of the seven sons of Peter George Comino (Galanis), of Dourianika on Kythera, who established themselves progressively at Armidale and Guyra from the turn of the century. This anecdote from the Comino Reunion Book may explain their short Ballina sojourn: “Nick Comino arrived in 1923 and settled in Guyra until late 1924. But then with his brother, Chris, they established a small business in Ballina. They were both young and carefree. Rumour has it that they both wanted to attend an evening of entertainment at the local Town Hall. However, only one could go as the other had to stay and mind the shop. Nick decided to sneak out the back door without telling his brother, whilst Chris sneaked out the front door, also without telling his brother. It was only after they met one another at the door of the Town Hall, after the performance, that they realised they had left the shop unattended all night. Needless to say they went broke....”

Mrs M. Duff, whoever she was, stepped in and picked up the pieces of the Bon Marche in early 1925, renaming the place The Bon Ton Sundae Shop. But she too found trading difficult and sold out to Nick Peter Panaretto towards the end of the year who proclaimed the place Ballina's Leading Refreshment Rooms, just before custom increased with the summer holiday season. Nick, 15yrs old when he landed in 1908, had spent about 10yrs in Sydney before heading north, and is believed to have come here after a few years in Brisbane. However, he too seems to have experienced a slackening trade and sold up a year or so later to move onto Tenterfield to work for George Tsicalas, leaving a mystery presence in the Ballina shop.

River Street 1925 (Oyster Saloon next Bon Marche possibly the home of Chakos/Psaras/Chicalas feedlot)
(Courtesy Ballina Library)

River Street ~1935
(Courtesy Ballina Library)

In the meantime the Feros Bros had arrived in town to give some longevity to the Greek cafe scene. The ‘brother(s)’ in this case appear to consist solely of Nick Jim Feros and his first cousin Mick George Feros who came from Lismore in late 1923, just after the Great Barrow Wars, to acquire a shop on the opposite side of River Street to the Bon March, quickly adding a wholesale and retail fruit sideline. (Nick’s brothers also moved out of Lismore after the Barrow Wars; George and Tony to Byron Bay and Peter to Toowoomba, leaving Jack to hold the fort in Lismore.) In 1927 Feros Bros claimed ...Two up-to-date shops. Meals all kinds and all hours. Fresh oysters and lobsters daily.... The location of the second shop is a mystery, but the River Street shop boasted itself as The Largest and the Best Refreshment Rooms in Ballina.

Feros Bros, Cnr River and Moon 1929.

Nick and Mick, who came from the Kytherian village of Mitata in 1922, had gone straight to Lismore for about 18mths of on-the-job training in the fruit business prior to being let loose on their own. They were burnt out in mid 1929 along with 12 other businesses in the 'Wigmore' suite of shops, losing all their personal belongings and documents, but continued trading at an unknown location until cornering a new shop on the corner of River and Moon Streets. In early 1930 Nick returned to Kythera to marry Tasia Venardos, both coming back to Ballina 12mths later and in Jan32 offloading a soda-fountain joint in East Ballina (apparently not the Council-owned East Ballina Kiosk). However, it seems a touch of home sickness set in and a year after the birth of twin sons, Charles and James, in 1932, Nick and family returned to Greece where they remained until 1939, at which time all except Charles returned to live in Toowoomba where Peter was well re-established. (At Nick's public farewell in early 1930 he had thanked all his customers for their support over the last 8yrs, hoping that upon coming back he ‘shall find that all conditions are more prosperous and all are happy.’ And upon return in May31 asserted that the Europeans were making headway in getting over the effects of the depression. Early 1930 marked great turbulence in the turnover of all cafes across the region as the Depression started to bite, and by mid 1930 Ballina unemployment was starting to increase exponentially, most of the dole pool initially being ex-navvies laid off from the Booyong-Ballina rail project, some of whom were Macedonians/Yugoslavs, as the job neared completion.)

(Photo courtesy Charles Nick Feros)

One of these navvies could have been the mysterious Chris/Cornelious Chakos who established or acquired the Riviera Café in River Street sometime in 1932, possibly earlier. In early 1933 Chakos (Tsakos?) sold the place to another mysterious bloke, Nick Psarros/Psaros. But there was a cock-up. Chakos owed George Toogood, proprietor of the Ballina Beacon newspaper amongst other interests, ~£8, being the remainder due for 'plant and furniture'. Toogood apparently had a lien on the stuff until Chakos paid up. Psarros bought the place thinking he acquired the wherewithal along with the business, but in a court case in May33 the magistrate ruled that 'no bona-fide sale took place' and gave Toogood the right to remove all the 'plant and furniture'. What happened after that is obscure, but the mid year census disclosed only two Greek-born males in town, both Feros. Psaros, who was identified in Lismore in Jul33 at the reception for Archbishop Timotheos, could be Nick Peter Psaros, 14yrs old went he was sponsored to Australia from Neapolis Vion in early 1930 by the Kytherian Theo Charles Comino of Blayney.

Dimitri Stratti Tsicalas (Jim Chicalas), the nephew of George Tsicalas earlier of Lismore and Bangalow, became a café proprietor in town in late 1933 and perhaps the Psaros/Chakos business is the one he acquired. He was was born in Smyrna in 1908 and came to Australia in 1923, initially to work for his Andronicos rellies at Muswellbrook before working his way up the coast to Casino, where he spent 5yrs prior to this Ballina sojourn. He sold up in mid 1935 and moved off to Gloucester for another 18mths before finally settling in Charleville.

River Street ~1935

In the meantime completion of the new Wigmore Arcade, formally opened at 141 River St in mid 1930, had introduced two new cafes, one each for George Burns and Maloney Bros, offering all the latest mod cons and décor, just as customers were starting to tighten their belts. Mayor Tighe advised that there were registered with the council 80 unemployed in Ballina and these would probably represent 300 people who were suffering through the present depression… Four days later he said that there were now 88 registered unemployed on the books. And at Christmas 1930 he managed to win £100 as Ballina's share of the £2050 Federal relief grant to the 10 LGAs in the Richmond district. (The only other grant came 8mths later when the the mayor received a gift of £50 from Jewallah Singh '...for the unemployed of Ballina.')


Ballina 1931
(Courtesy Ballina Library)

Into Jan31 council staffing was down to 14 people on a work sharing arrangement, while many of the ~100 unemployed, who by then had formed themselves into the Ballina Unemployed Association, were camping in the sheds at the parks and using cricket mats for beds. The ration bill was growing rapidly, but seems to have peaked by July with the issue of 1398 food relief dockets to 350 unemployed at a cost of £1098. The total bill for 1931 came in at £10,056. There were still 350 unemployed on the books in June 1932 when the dole bill struck a new record of 1746 food orders (£1135), but at that time Ballina inexplicably missed out on the first of the grants under the new unemployment relief schemes, perhaps because the council was broke and wasn't in a position to make a contributing share as a condition of the grant. At Christmas however, when there were ~250 unemployed on the roll, council was granted £200 (out of the £1110 applied for) and contributed its share by taking a £200 loan at 3% over 5yrs.

The mid 1933 census disclosed that Ballina was suffering more than any other town on the Northern Rivers, with a combined median income of £59 for male and female breadwinners, way below the region’s median of £78 and below the State at £71. Its unemployment came in at 23.1%, while the regional average was only 9.0% and the State stood at 21.7%. In Jul33 the council adopted the work-for-the-dole scheme, which by the end of 1934 was proclaimed the smartest thing they'd ever done after road work that would have been on the back-burner for many years was completed. But the scheme didn't pick up all unemployed as at this time there were still an average of 75 people drawing the dole at an average cost of £180/mth.

These conditions, in conjunction with his non-English speaking wife's homesickness, were probably the catalyst for Nick Feros’s return home in Mar1933, although Feros Bros continued trading with the assistance of his brother George who came across from Byron Bay, leaving brother Tony to contend with the new Bay competition brought by Ward’s Refreshment Rooms, advertising with the slogan ‘An All Australian Café’. Mick probably needed a hand as he was trying to run the carrier and wholesale side of the fruit business as well as keeping the River Street café functioning with Meals all hours... specialists in oyster suppers ....Try our wonderful Sundaes.... They stepped up the competition in early 1934 by dropping the cost of a three-course meal to 1/3d, the only Greek café in the whole Richmond-Tweed region to do so and probably indicative of Ballina’s reduced circumstances. They also sought the Catholic patronage by offering Special rates for fish and chips every Friday.’ A year or so later George’s nephew, Peter Emmanuel Miliotis, turned up and went into partnership with Mick, leaving George free to return to Byron Bay to give brother Tony a break. 

In the meantime Beddow's Wentworth Cafe appeared in River St in late 1931, while Maloney Bros added to the competition by the erection of another new 'up-to-date-cafe' in early 1932. In mid 1932 Ted Eyles' Premier Cafe, specialising in fish and oyster meals and 'first class fish and chips', appeared between Wallace's Billiard Saloon and the Star office. And all while Burns' cafe in the Wigmore continued to proclaim itself as 'Ballina's Leading Refreshment Rooms'. In late 1933 Burns appears to have relocated to 131 River St, still broadcasting 'High Class Meals All Hours.' But the competition had been reduced by one after the Sneesby's Blue Bird Cafe went up in smoke in mid 1931 in a fire that gutted 5 shops, including Moneysavers' Department Store, with a bill of £10,000. (Moneysavers never reopened, joining its Lismore branch which folded at the same time, throwing another bunch of employees on the dole.)

[And Burns continued to lead the innovation race. In late 1934 he was first in the Richmond-Tweed region to introduce the term 'Milk Bar' to his shingle, giving the locals a taste of the runaway craze that had been spreading from Sydney since 1932. It was 12mths after his lead that the Feros started advertising that A modern milk bar has been installed in the popular tea and refreshment room..., by which time they were becoming essential accessories in all seaside feedlots. (The Burns cafe morphed into the Monterey Cafe and Milk Bar in the hands of the Poulos Bros in 1936, 30yrs after which the next milk bar revolution arrived with the take-away waxed container.)]

Fish and chips remained a staple, while fish continued as a significant contributor to the Ballina economy, 273,405lbs of various species sent off to the Sydney markets in 1932 (but dropping to 225,760lbs in 1933.) Conversely, oysters increased from 338 bags in 1932 to 574 bags in 1933. There were four major leases despite the Chamber of Commerce lobbying the Department of Works to keep the sea-walls free for holidaymakers. But the Department figured the walls under lease were better cared for by private lessees, while the public was doing serious damage helping themselves to free oysters. The final decision in 1932 left the Public... with ...over two miles of good walls from which to collect.... But oyster harvesting became secondary to supplying mangrove sticks to oyster cultivators elsewhere, one contractor alone supplying 250,000 to Port Stephens in 1934.

The Feros' were still trading as 'Feros Bros' when Mick’s brother Peter landed in 1939, initially spending a year or so at The Bay prior to coming to Ballina, at which time Peter Miliotis, also from Mitata, moved on to Chinchilla. (But the partnership arrangements are all a bit tricky. George and Tony Feros didn't formally withdraw from the partnership of Feros Bros & Co of Ballina until mid 1938, leaving Mick Feros and Peter Miliotis as the sole partners in Feros & Co. And then in mid 1939 Miliotis withdrew, leaving Mick Feros on his own, presumably until sometime down the track he offered his brother partnership shares. Mick had acquired his cousin Nick's shares in 1936, apparently after Nick had done a quick return trip in 1936 to assess trading conditions, subsequently electing to join brother Peter at Toowoomba in 1939.)

Peter Miliotis’s nephew (perhaps cousin?), Jim George Castrisos (Miliotis), landed as a 9yr old in 1921 and went straight to the guardianship of the Lismore Feros, spending a couple of years at the Marist Brothers School before moving to Brisbane to join his father George and continuing his schooling with Jack and Jim Sklavos, the nephews of George Sklavos, earlier of Mullumbimby. He subsequently simplified the family ‘paratsoukli’ to Miller and married Angela Balson from Mikrasia (Asia Minor) ~1944 Kempsey, sometime before settling in Chinchilla. Jim’s son George, born 1945 Chinchilla, went on to become a highly acclaimed Australian film producer/director and Oscar nominee. He has since contributed many thousands of dollars to the restoration of the large village church, which was built by his great, great grandfather, Fr John Sklavos, the first parish priest. 

Other Feros who came and went include a cousin John Jim Feros who came to Ballina in 1924, staying 2yrs before moving onto Brisbane, where he worked for Samios Bros, earlier of Mullumbimby, thence to Mitchell working for another set Samios Bros prior to ending up in Monto working for Chris Patrick earlier of Coolangatta. Charlie Nick Feros of Dorrigo was here from the late 1930s until his enlistment in 1941, relocating to Lismore upon discharge in 1946 and thence to Sarina in Queensland.

All Feros had their origin in Mitata, one of the oldest villages on the island, but those who came to the north coast were all from the quarter of the village called Sklavanika. Folklore has it that the original Feros families of Kythera were refugees from Spain in the late 1700s and arrived bearing the name Ferenque (sp?). They, like the Crethars of Karavas, serve as an example of the power of chain migration: original family names from Mitata include Feros, Protopsaltis, Samios and Miliotis, all of whom have had a higher concentration in the towns on the north coast than elsewhere in NSW.

Peter Feros sold his shares to Mick in about 1945 and moved to Lismore to go into partnership with his cousin Jack Feros. Mick, who had taken on the lease of The Kiosk at East Ballina in 1944, carried on trading in Ballina as Feros Bros, while the main outlet, The Oceanic on River Street near the corner of Cherry Street, developed a sideline as one of the popular bait shops for the holidaying fishermen. It subsequently became the Pacific Café in the hands of the new owners after he sold up in about 1955 and relocated to Lismore, from where his substantial wholesale carrier business continued to supply many of the Greek shops in the region with fruit and veggies. But Feros Bros remained one of Ballina’s longest continuous trade names as Mick is believed to have established another small cafe/retail fruit outlet in Ballina shortly afterwards. Rumour has it that he loved a bet. He died in Lismore in 1964, at the young age of 50, leaving wife Vasilia (nee Goulouris from Mytilini) and six children.

While The Kiosk at East Ballina remained a popular spot for the public, the proprietors found it hard going in the face of the trade downturn in winter, causing many lease forfeitures over the years. In 1939 the Council rebuilt the place at a cost of £2277, but forfeitures continued, and for a couple of years was even in mothballs as the Council couldn't get one tender until Mick Feros was granted a long-term lease in mid 1944, at a rent of £2/5/- a week for 5yrs. He attempted to get a liquor licence in Feb47, but a protest by the temperance ladies thwarted his ambition, as they and church groups had done to Jack Davis who had made similar overtures during the Depression. (Perhaps the license would have given it viability in winter as a trendy restaurant - as early as 1926 the North Coast Federated Chambers of Commerce chose the place for a talkfest, with a huge contingent of businessmen from all over the region who toasted Mrs and Miss Wells for their exceptional catering.) Mick, who probably installed a manager, didn't complete the full 5yrs and handed over to Mrs Barker in 1948. The Poulos family returned a Greek presence in 1958.

However, the Feros continued to have a kiosk presence in East Ballina through Jack Feros, who took over a light refreshment outlet there in 1948. Being unlicensed to serve meals it was dubbed a 'kiosk', and could be Mick's folklore cafe referred to above. But Jack sold the place to Dick Aston in Oct50 and returned to Lismore, where his wife Vasiliki (nee Samios) died in 1951, prompting his retirement to Byron Bay. 

Ballina – 1930s and Beyond

Further Greek competition came in the form of a hardware business when Andrew Peter Samios turned up in late 1934 to begin a new career in a shop in the Wigmore Building. Nineteen year old Andy, his two brothers, Nick and George, and his father Peter, had landed from Aloizianika on Kythera in early 1923 and gone direct to Narrabri to work for Archie Gavrily. Unfortunately Peter died a couple of months later, putting his sons on a fast track to independence. Upon Archie’s move to Lismore the brothers split up; George moving off to Perth while Andy and Nick decided to put Bellata on the map. In addition to the prestige of a Greek noshery they also gave Bellata a new carrier business, and carted the local football team, of which Andy was a fiery member, as well as wool and wheat for the local farmers. The folklore goes that Andy took great umbrage over any breaches of on-field etiquette, assisting the referee, whenever one was game enough to volunteer his services, to maintain discipline. Sometime in 1931 they passed the business to Theodore & Co and Nick moved onto Garah, north of Moree, to acquire a cafe, again trading as Samios Bros, while Andy returned to Narrabri to go into business with Minas Vasilios Aroney (Magonezos.)

The Aroney & Samios partnership was a Depression-style business in which they moved around the region buying up bankrupt shops and on-selling the stock at auction. Andy had gotten to know the region well during his carrier career and knew which businesses in which towns were shaky. But by the mid 1930s their business was drying up with the economy stabilizing so they had a final swansong at Ballina, after which they dissolved their partnership and Aroney returned to Narrabri to join his brothers.

The Northern Star of 16Jan1935 carried a half page advert by the firm of Aroney & Samios: ‘The successors of the assigned estate of F. D. Felton’s, Storekeepers, Ballina, announce a huge closing down sale... daily until everything is sold... biggest ever known in the district….' They had £4000 worth of stuff to flog, including every conceivable item down to the proverbial kitchen sink. For some reason Andy then figured Ballina was going places, choosing to stay and restock the vacant shop as a general store, but with an emphasis on hardware. Following the divorce from Aroney in mid 1935 he registered the company A. Samios Ltd with a capital of £3000.

He was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, becoming Secretary by the early 1940s. His hardware store, allegedly worked in conjunction with a brother at one stage, was in the Wigmore Arcade building at 141 River Street. When he started up he was one of three general stores that survived the Depression, but by 1950, with a bit of prosperity returning to Ballina, there were six such stores, prompting his move to Stones Corner in Brisbane where his enterprise eventually grew into a substantial hardware and earth moving equipment business. During the war Andy earned the nickname ‘The Cement King’ for his ability to track the very scarce stuff down on demand. He married Maritsa Agritelis, from Smyrna in Asia Minor, in 1937 in Brisbane. Their son George later married Maria Conomou of Kyogle.


Wigmore Arcade Building ~1939
(Courtesy George Samios)

Ballina 1940s
Andy Samios with Staff above and with wife Maritsa right
(Courtesy George Samios)


Arriving about 6mths after Andy were the Poulos Bros, George and Peter Anastasios Georgopoulos of Christoforianika on Kythera. Eighteen year old George landed in 1922 and wandered all over the place until basing himself at Grafton and Bellingen. Peter (aka Archie), 14yrs old when he landed in 1928 spent a year or so at Urunga until settling at Denman, where he worked for fellow villager, Harry James Flaskas, studying the finer points of gourmet cooking for 7yrs before he received a call from George to see whether he was ready to test the palates of Ballina’s fastidious foodies. They duly took over the Burns cafe at 133 River Street, making it over into the Monterey and remaining for the rest of their lives.


Lismore 1967
L to R: Peter, Frosso, Botta and George Poulos, amongst the 450 guests at the Crethar/Coronakes wedding reception at the Civic Hall
(Courtesy Harry Crethar)

By 1950 Ballina was showing signs of growth once more, soon becoming the fastest growing town in the region and, with the growth in motorcar usage, becoming the region’s major holiday resort town. By 1950 there were five cafes (including the theatre milk bar), two fish n’ chip shops and five fruiterers catering to the crowds.

George and Peter sold out to the Italian De Re family in 1966 to enjoy sifting sand through their toes in retirement. Unfortunately, Peter died the following year, at the young age of 52, leaving wife Frosso, son Archie (who now lectures in theology at Moore Theological College), and daughters Helen and Dorothy in a spot of bother. He had married Efrosceni (Frosso) Crethar, born 1928 Karavas, the daughter of Angelo and Theodora Mentis (nee Crethar) but raised by Menus and Mary Crethar (nee Vangi) in Athens. Her father had spent a few years working for his brother-in-law, Angelo Victor Crethar, in Lismore during the 1930s. Frosso had landed with her cousin ‘young Harry’ Crethar in 1948 and married Peter in Lismore the following year. One of the Monterey’s later employees was her brother, Nick Mentis, who travelled back and forth to Kythera a number of times over the years. George died in 1982 leaving wife Botta (nee Lourandos of Lourandianika on Kythera) and children Jim, Archie and Helen. Helen married Sam Fardouly and operated a café in Lismore until moving to Sydney. 

Another Poulos family, the lucky Tzortzopoulos of Karavas on Kythera, had The Kiosk on the waterfront at East Ballina for about 9ys. Jim Poulos arrived from Kythera via a sojourn in Piraeus in the early 1950s and worked for a few years at Kyogle before acquiring The Kiosk in 1958, the same year his wife, Garifalia, nee Coroneos, and family turned up. Garifalia was the sister of the copious Coroneos living around the region - Mrs Katina Stan Gleeson of Kyogle, Mrs Anna Peter Crethar of Lismore, and Jim, Peter and Leo of all over the place.


The Kiosk 1960
(at low tide)
(Courtesy Ballina Library)

Through the 1950s to the 70s The Kiosk was a popular spot for squillions of holidaymakers, both day-trippers and tent city residents, and living on site gave the Poulos a lifestyle envied by all. They lived in a caravan next door to the café for a while until the old dressing sheds were converted into a flat. The Poulos were also general caretakers and responsible for the dressing sheds where, for 2d, you could have a hot shower and change in private. They passed the lease to the Caldwells in 1966 and moved into town, establishing a fish shop next door to ‘The New Milk Bar’, near the theatre on the other side of the street to the Monterey. The proprietors of The New, George and Mary Black (Mavromatis), weren’t overjoyed. After working 7 days a week without one break for 15yrs, Jim and family retired in 1973 and moved to Canberra where their daughter Sofia had established herself.

The Kiosk, in the hands of the Caldwell family, expanded with a sit-down restaurant on the river side of the building, called the Luana Room, which became the most popular eatery in Ballina due to its unsurpassed views over the river and township. A piece of Ballina history was lost in 2001 when the Kiosk suffered severe storm damage and the Council took the opportunity to turn it into a vacant lot. The valuable site remains in limbo as Ballina, like all coastal towns growing like the clappers, becomes urbanised and kills off the old Australian beach culture (although tent city is not going down without a fight, with caravan parks becoming the new battle ground for cheap accommodation as house prices soar beyond the reach of many.)

Falia’s brother, Jim John Coroneos, arrived in town in 1954/55 and acquired Johnny’s Milkbar, next door to the Plaza Theatre at 65 River Street, making it over into The New Milk Bar, although it continued to be colloquially known as ‘Johnnys’ for many years. Jim had been in partnership with Peter Conomos in Kyogle from 1922 until selling up in 1932 and returning to Karavas where he married the American-born Maria Mentis. Twenty-two years later something prompted him to come back to Australia with his whole family and buy the business in Ballina. Unfortunately, he died three years afterwards, in early 1957, whereupon Maria and children Marianthi (Mary) and Con returned to Karavas, leaving John and Georgina with the café until they sold to George and Mary Black in 1965 and joined them on the island, where John opened a bakery in Karavas. [Maria Mentis, born 1912 Buffalo, USA, the daughter of Con and Georgia (nee Georgopoulos/Tzortzopoulos), returned to Karavas with her family in 1929. Her brother Nick, born 1916 Baltimore, came to Australia in 1939 and acquired his uncle Theo Georgopoulos’s Paragon Café in Tenterfield.]

Jim’s brothers, Peter and Leo John Coroneos, were also Ballina identities. Peter had arrived in Kyogle in the early 1920s, having been sponsored out by Jim, but later moved to Pittsworth, where the Panaretos, another Kytherian-American family, ran the local cafe for about 30yrs. He worked in various places but always maintained a base in Lismore, where he was a property owner in Ballina Street for many years, at least from the early 1940s. In Lismore he worked variously for Angelo Crethar and Peter Crethary before moving permanently to Ballina in the early 1950s to go into business with his younger brother Leo, at the same time acquiring a block of flats at the eastern end of River Street.

Leo, sponsored by brother-in-law Peter Nick Crethary of Lismore in 1926, had managed one of the three cafes owned by Conomos & Gleeson in Kyogle from about 1930 to 1940 before enlisting from Pittsworth. After the war he returned to work in Pittsworth for a while prior to settling in Ballina in the late 1940s and establishing a tobacconist shop. When Peter arrived they branched out into various enterprises, including a pinball parlour at one stage. Leo, always a dapper, well-groomed bloke, was also an SP bookie as well as having a license to operate at the Ballina racecourse. He married Helen Kalligeros/Kallinikos in the 1950s and continued to terrorise Ballina until the late 1960s when he sold out to Phillip Feros of Lismore and moved to Sydney. Peter, who had been living with them all this time, then seems to have moved into one of the units in his block of flats, where he died in 2002, aged 94.

Phillip Feros, the son of Peter George earlier of Ballina, expanded Leo’s Games Parlour into a milk bar, renaming the place The Dolphin Café, but selling up in 1971 to return to Lismore and take over the family business.

The Coroneos can take the curtain call on the final Greek performance in Ballina. George Black and his wife Mary, the daughter of Peter Nick Crethary and Anna Coroneos, passed The New Milk Bar to their nephews, Alex and Peter Coronakes, the sons of Mary’s sister, Matina, in 1970 and returned to Lismore. Matina took command in 1972, finally breaking the Coroneos connection upon moving to Grafton in 1977 to acquire the Parkville Hotel, where she opened the hotel’s famous ‘Tina’s Gourmet Restaurant’ and ran it for 12yrs before retiring to Lismore. Over the whole period of the Coroneos stewardship ‘Johnnys’ was renowned for its hamburger, modelled on the famous ‘Crethar’ of Lismore.

Coroneo families remain immortalised on Kythera through Koronianika, now a quarter of the village of Potamos, which was established through settlers from the Venetian trading centre of Koroni. They were amongst the earliest groups to repopulate Kythera after the Byzantime Empire regained control of the island in 961AD.

Temporary Ballina sojourners from the early 1950s were John and Maria Kouvelis who took over the Exchange Hotel in River Street (and possibly the picture theatre.) Maria was the daughter of Nick Theo Feros of Armidale, while Jack was the grandson of Jack Kouvellis, the owner of a very extensive chain of picture theatres throughout NSW, the Armidale one believed to have been in Jack Jnr’s management hands at the time of his marriage. They seem to have left Ballina by 1960. Nowadays Spiro Varela of the prominent Murbah family operates Ballina Cinema.


Emmanuel Harry Mavris (Mavromikhail) opened the first Greek café at Alstonville in mid 1922. He was 10yrs old when he left home in Piraeus, spending 7yrs in Egypt gaining catering credentials before arriving in Sydney in 1910. In 1920, newly married, he was prompted to try the country air and acquired a business at Bangalow, but was burnt out 6mths later and moved to Murwillumbah with the Kytherian Emmanuel Jacob Haropoulos (Haros) to take over one of Jack Aroney’s cafes. But when things started to get a bit shaky in the Tweed district with the collapse in the banana industry he passed the cafe to Nick Koukoulis and decided to try the less than thriving metropolis of Alstonville, where he appears to have survived until late 1925 when he was relieved to pass the place to Jack Feros of Lismore, who auctioned off all the fixtures and fittings in early 1926 after being unable to sell the place. The only other cafe in town appears to be the Premier Cafe, across the road from the Amusu Theatre, which was taken over by Mrs R. Daley in Sep23 and was on the market by late 1927 with no apparent takers.

Emmanuel is probably the same 'E. Mavris', head chef at Loosen's Cafe in the late 1920s and proprietor of the Astor Cafe at Katoomba in the 1930s. He arrived in Alstonville with two young children and must have been desperate for a job as Alstonville was one of the few Richmond towns to experience a population loss between the censuses of 1911 and 21, from 1001 to 994, while its administrator, Tintenbar Shire, was the only LGA in the region to wear this distinction. (And with the decline in the dairy industry over the following years the trend continued for the shire, but Alstonville had recovered to 1057 by 1933 before continuing the slide, reaching a low of 576 people in 1966.)

There appears to be no further Greek presence after the Feros exit, although through the 1920s the Kalachoffs of Ballina were residents, (George, a saddler, and Spiro, a baker), until they went their separate ways around 1932, the former to Bangalow and the latter to Kyogle, perhaps via Coraki. At the time he moved out Spiro was trading as Kalachoff & Adams, Bakers and Pastry Cooks, opposite the Federal Hotel.

By mid 1930 Tintenbar, with 62 unemployed on the books, appeared to be the most financially stressed shire in the Richmond region. Three months later the council was informed of the cut back in the Main Roads Board contracts, resulting in retrenchment of a few more employees. Council’s finance was so bad that not only could no new work be undertaken, but great difficulty would be experienced in carrying out work already approved…., joining its neighbour, Byron Shire, in the worry club. (At this time Byron had exceeded its overdraft limit and there was no money for next week’s wages.) Nevertheless, Tintenbar had a big responsibility in the region's road network, particularly for the Lismore-Ballina artery, which was rebuilt at a cost of £21,505 in 1930.

Towards the end of the following year the shire had a deficit of nearly £9000 and... Council dealt at length with the curtailing of expenditure for the remainder of the year ... and councillors unanimously expressed the urgent need for economy. Finally a resolution was carried ‘that owing to the financial position of the general funds, no further work be carried out on other than main roads for the present, and the engineer be instructed to push on with all main road work, particularly on the Pacific Highway…, the MRB being its major source of funds in the face of continuing rate defaults by destitute dairy farmers. They cunningly got the Lismore-Ballina road reclassified as a main road and managed to extract £14,000 from the MRB in late 1932, which gave 2 gangs of 50 unemployed blokes work on constructing the Ballina Cutting. The work was still on-going in late 1934, at which time £17,984 had been expended (80% on wages) and pleas were being made to the MRB for another handout.



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