This house once existed at Sheltering Palms, a settlement swept away by Cyclone Pam in 1974, and is one of the slides to feature in Frank Mills’ presentation at the Ocean Shores Art Expo.
This house once existed at Sheltering Palms, a settlement swept away by Cyclone Pam in 1974, and is one of the slides to feature in Frank Mills’ presentation at the Ocean Shores Art Expo.

Elements focus of expo

Earth, water, fire and air have all taken a turn at battering the region during the years.

Snow even put in an appearance once, with The Tweed and Brunswick Advocate reporting “so much snow on Mount Nullum that it could be seen in Murwillumbah” one day in 1923 – and it is this effect of the four elements on the community that local historian Frank Mills will focus on in his presentation for the Ocean Shores Art Expo on the weekend of August 27 to 29, with its theme, The Elements.

Though Frank was not around 23 million years ago to see the eruption of the volcano whose central remnant is Mount Warning, he has seen more than his fair share of natural disasters during his long years of community involvement.

Sheltering Palms was the evocative name of an idyllic settlement of holiday cabins and a scattering of houses on the north of Brunswick River until the day in 1974 when Cyclone Pam did her thing.

And today not even the tiniest trace of that settlement remains.

Frank was there helping evacuate everyone as wardrobes and washing machines bobbed about in the water, thrown out of their houses when waves swept ruthlessly through doors and windows.

And, with the access road destroyed, that was the end of a golden era.

Frank has been there helping out in many of the major floods to have swept through the district.

“In my 30 or 40 years at Main Arm I experienced so many floods,” Frank said.

“And they were of long duration because this was many years before the bridges were built.

“In one big flood that I went out to with the SES I picked up the body of a man wrapped around a tree who'd washed off the back of his truck near Upper Main Arm School.

“I loaded him in the back of my vehicle and took him back to Mullumbimby.”

Then there was the day in 1986 when a heath fire was approaching Byron Bay, giving serious cause for alarm as it threatened the town, before being brought under control.

“We need to look back before we can go forward,” is Frank's dictum and the theme of his presentation.

The Elements presentation, with the many wonderful photographs that Frank has collated to illustrate the story, will add an extra dimension to the pleasure of viewing the art work at this year's art expo.


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