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Traditionally inhabited by the Goori Aboriginal People, this area inland of the New South Wales north coast on the Richmond River surrounded by lush forests was originally noted for its fine timber reserves of cedar and pine. Squatters had been grazing their cattle in the land around Lismore from the early 1800s, and by the 1840s had been granted a number of licences for pastoral runs, and subsequently built homesteads. One of these runs, owned by William and Jane Wilson, was named Lismore Run and would be the inspiration for the town’s name.
Travelling along the Richmond River on their schooner 'Sally', Cedar cutters arrived in Lismore in 1842 signalling the start of a boom industry in Lismore. The new timber industry was complimentary to the existing farming industry, as the cedar cutters cleared the land creating further farming land for the graziers. However, the as the timber felling licence for the area only covered industry on the land and not settlement, the cutters and their families would not set up homes in the area until the Robertson Free Land Act in 1861 allowed them to settle on their land and significantly brought further farmers and more diverse industry to the town including several successful Dairies.
As rural farming in the Greater Lismore region hit a downturn in the 1940s following the World Wars, the population Lismore city would swell as residents left their farms for a more metropolitan setting and the town was officially gazetted as a city in 1946. Today with its surrounding forests and lush hinterland, Lismore is the town centre of an area known as the 'Rainbow Region' thanks in part to its history of eco-tourism and its geographical proximity to the Alternative village of Nimbin. It has a strong arts and culture community and was the hometown to such contemporary music talent as lyrical troubadour Darren Hanlon and rock group Grinspoon.