Focus sat down with Bellingen local Darcey Browning to find out a bit more about his many years in Bellingen. Don’t worry … we won’t ask him about the roads …
What is yours and your family’s connection to Bellingen?
We moved to Bellingen in 1951, where we lived in a tiny two bedroom weatherboard shack in Kalang; my father worked in the timber industry.
One of four children … how our mother provided for us all, with so little. We all bathed in the same little tin tub – nothing was wasted in those days, and heaven help the last out of the tub if the soap was left behind. The water was then used to water the veggies. No power; no phone.
What do you love the most about living in the Bellingen shire?
Well, Bellingen has certainly changed over the years, but the beauty, diversification and great average climate would answer that one.
Tell us about what you used to do for fun around Bellingen in your younger years?
Having grown up in Bellingen from five years on, as a kid we were free to walk or ride our push bikes everywhere. As hobbies, we would go shooting (as young as eight), fishing and collecting bird eggs. We used to enjoy pinching corn, fruit, watermelon and other produce from the farmers. They didn’t mind; we were free. Things were tough back then.
How has Bellingen changed over the years?
Since 1950, Bellingen has changed dramatically; once it was all timber and dairying – now almost gone. Everyone knew each other. The city has somewhat replaced the country … a walk down the street, and you never know who you’ll meet. Bellingen is now a very diverse and divided community. I will always miss the old days in Bellingen but as we grow and change, so does that around us.
Can you tell us a bit more about your farm?
Pauline and I purchased our farm in 1969 – a dairy farm. We milked cows for 20 years, starting at 4am and not knocking off until 7pm, 365 days a year: “a farmer’s work is never done”. We now run beef cattle and work with timber on the property, and we also do some contract work. The small family farm is now a thing of the past.
What advice would you give to people looking to move to Bellingen?
The beauty of the place and the idea of living a quiet rural lifestyle can be enticing, but I suggest renting for 12 months before purchasing.
What’s your favourite place to go in the area?
The section of the Bellingen river called the gorge up the top end of the river. Also, the Rosewood River, with those undeniably beautiful Bangalow Palm flats and crystal clear pools – and let’s not forget the breathtaking Never Never Creek.