When the Richmond River area was first settled, the Big Scrub was
the name given to an area of dense forest. It covered about 75,000 acres,
and stretched roughly from Broadwater in the south to Goonengerry in the north,
and from the edge of the coastal strip west to about Lismore.
The valley of the Richmond River was first settled in 1840, when George Stapleton and Henry Clay established a station of 30,000 acres which they called "Cassino"1. Other settlers followed, until both sides of the riverbank between the river mouth at what is now Ballina, and the site of present-day Lismore, were closely settled.
However, the Big Scrub remained unsettled. Cedar cutters were soon active, and many trails led into and through the area, but it was not until 1865 when brothers Andrew and Thomas FREEBORN selected land at what is now Alstonville (under the Conditional Purchase provisions of the Robertson Land Act of 1862) that settlement of the Big Scrub commenced.
1. L T Daley, "Men and a River"