Just as the natural environment of this area has been dramatically impacted by European settlement, so also have Aboriginal people been forced to adapt to radical change.
Places like Cabbage Tree Island located some 20km upstream in the Richmond River estuary from here provided a refuge for Aboriginal people.
This provided a base from which the community could still maintain its connections to Country. In the video below Uncle Lewis Cook speaks of these and of the significance that East Ballina still has for the local community.
Cabbage Tree Island provides an important focal point for community connection.
In the recording here Uncle Lewis describes how as children they used to make the long trip up the estuary to Cabbage Tree Island by using the tides and improvised sails to help them along.
As well the stories recorded specifically for this project, the local community values a selection of historical recordings that speak of community life around Cabbage Tree Island.
One of these is a recording with Uncle Douglas 'Duck' Cook from 1983. Here he speaks of how the community adapted to life on the island by growing sugar cane to bring in an income to supplement their reliance on local bush tucker food harvested from the estuary.