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Looking for Ballina’s original timber cottages


Zoe Satherley
9 August 2010
Southern Cross University social history researcher Karyn Rendall has a passion for the past and is looking for people living in old Ballina houses. Very old houses.

To be precise, Karyn would love to hear from anyone who lives in or owns a Ballina house built before 1900.

The Ballina woman, who has lived in the local area for the past 20 years, is undertaking a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) research project on the history of these old homes – some of the earliest built in the region.

“Basically many were just little square timber cottages with iron roofs. They were often made of local timbers, like red cedar and had a central hallway, a front door, a back door and four rooms,” Karyn said. “But there were also other styles of houses built in these early periods of our history and I am interested in all of them.

“Of course most have been renovated and added on to over the years, but the basic structure will probably still be there.

“I am interested in finding out all I can about this period in Ballina’s history and the types of houses ordinary people lived in during that era.

“I would love to know who the builders were and what materials the houses were made of, their design, who lived in them … everything really.

“I would also love to talk to people who have any connections with that period in Ballina’s history or those who have old historic photographs from that era, especially of old or original timber houses and buildings in the town.”

Karyn said the main aim of her project was to investigate and document the history of a sample of the remaining historic timber cottages in Ballina and consider what these houses could tell us about the social history of the area at the time.

The study will include a physical investigation and archival research of each house to find out as much information as possible about the home and its occupants. The project will include photographs of both the current houses and any available images of houses in their original form.

Floor plans outlining existing structures and, where possible, descriptions of the original structure and any changes that have been made will also be included.

It is hoped that through record searches of local repositories, information can be gathered on the original occupants of each house plus information on those who constructed the homes.

“Interviews with current owners will provide a further source of information and offer insight into the ways in which residents connect (or not) with history, through ownership of these historic houses,” Karyn said.

Karyn’s research project is restricted to the Ballina area only. If you have any information you are willing to share with her, or have a house you think might fit her study, contact her on 0416 247 803 or via email on

Photo: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) student Karyn Rendall is wanting to contact people who own or live in pre-1900s Ballina houses.