THE majestic Clarence River is a focal point for the entire Valley and plays host to a range of aquatic sports.
THE majestic Clarence River is a focal point for the entire Valley and plays host to a range of aquatic sports.

Capturing the Clarence



A NEW book on the Northern Rivers, North Coasting, features superb photographs of the Clarence Valley and its people.

The book is the work of photographer Lee Pearce, who lives near Ballina. He has been photographing the region for more than 30 years.

Pearce has a long association with the Clarence Valley.

"I photographed the first audio-visual presentation for Big River Tourism in the 1980s," Pearce said.

"It showed to thousands of tourists in the visitors' centre for more than 10 years until I photographed an update in the nineties."

Many of those photographs are reproduced in the book which covers from the Clarence to the Tweed, and charts the transition of the region from untouched wilderness to the best address in the country.

Pearce has been taking photographs for 50 years and learned his craft as a staffer on several Sydney newspapers and magazines in the 1960s. He has roamed the world freelancing for magazines in Australia and England. He travelled extensively in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the South Pacific, photographing riots, film stars and rock bands.

In the early 1970s, while based in Sydney, he received an assignment from The National Times to photograph the first Aquarius Festival at Nimbin.

"I did the job, which was an eye-opener, and then spent a few days travelling through around the mountains and beaches, and thought 'this is for me' and I've been here pretty much ever since."

In the 1970s, he co-produced The Bush Telegraph, which was a black and white rural magazine produced from Bangalow in 1976-77.

Inspired by the natural beauty of the area, he has always photographed landscapes, people and wildlife of the region and these pictures were published in a highly successful set of colour books, The Northern Rivers of NSW, in the 1980s.

North Coasting, Life on the Northern Rivers of NSW starts with a section called In the Beginning, which depicts the landscape and wildlife as Captain Cook would have seen it.

"I've included some historical pictures from the 19th Century, there's some fascinating stuff in the historical societies' collections," he said.

"Added to my 30-year archive of people and activities and festival shots the book actually spans three centuries. I haven't seen anything like it published before.

"I wanted to do something that defined the region I live in. Regional identity has always been a problem in Australia. In the countries that have influenced Australian culture, the United States, in roughly the same area, has 48 states, whereas we have eight states and territories. In the UK, there are over 30 counties in an area the size of Victoria."

The book depicts a drive around the Northern Rivers at the beginning of the 21st Century.



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