1950s and 1960s


With the war over, the people of Lismore quickly sought a return to normal life. However, some things were to change forever.

The pre-war reliance on shipping along the Richmond and Wilsons Rivers had taken a serious downturn. The ships which plied the rivers had been requisitioned for the war effort and valuable trade had been lost to railways. The ships used during the war were returned in 1947 in poor condition and in need of renewal, but the costs involved were too high. In the same year the largest shipping line operating on the two rivers, the Northern Rivers Steamship Company, went into liquidation and so ended Lismore’s reliance on shipping as the predominant mode of transportation.

Post war, the youth of the area tended to remain in the larger cities and industrial regions, draining the surrounding rural areas of Lismore. Some areas were to never regain their former populations, however Lismore remained a centre of commerce and by 1947 its population had increase to 15,214.

In the period of post-war reconstruction, Lismore was officially gazetted as a city on 9 September 1946. An official coat of arms including Gaelic motto was granted from the Lord Lyon King of Arms recognising Lismore's Scottish origins. The coat of arms was granted in 1947 with the legend translating to “He who does not progress retrogresses” indicating Lismore's commitment to progress and future development.

The decade of the 1950s saw the growth of clubs. The community found they had more leisure time for drinking and socialising and began patronising their favourite clubs. The legalisation of poker machines in 1956 boosted the incomes of the clubs to the detriment of the local hotels, restaurants and cafes, many of which were forced to close down.

In February 1954 Lismore people were visited by Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty and her consort the Duke were lodged in the Gollan Hotel at the corner of Woodlark and Keen Streets. The Royal couple's Lismore subjects commenced gathering the previous night and by the following day some 5000 people awaited a glimpse of the Queen.

Two years later, Lismore was to receive the first transmission of television from Brisbane via a transmitter on Mt Nardi near Nimbin. A local TV channel was not established until May 1962 when Television Station 8 began its first transmission from Goonellabah. Goonellabah was incorporated into Lismore city in 1958. In that same year Norco bought out Foley Bros., thus securing complete local control of dairy supply and processing, and by August 1962 Norco had established its headquarters in Lismore.

1963 saw the completion of construction of the new Ballina Street Bridge and consequent change of traffic flow, extending business trading beyond the old central business district. To take advantage of this new traffic flow, Woolworths built their new shopping complex in Carrington Street, which was closer to the re-routed Bruxner Highway over the new bridge. In the same year Lismore became the first Australian town to establish a sister-city relationship with the Japanese city of Yamato Takada.

In May 1969 the Department of Civil Aviation licensed the aerodrome at South Lismore. Over a period of several decades of persistence by Council and community groups the Department finally agreed to upgrade the facility to executive level, providing the necessary facilities including electric flare paths, directional beacons and night flying facilities. The aerodrome was seen as playing a vital role in the development of Lismore.

In comparison to the relatively slow 50s, Lismore in the 1960s experienced a boom in development. However, signs of a downturn in the dairy industry had started to show.