March is the month to be at Alstonville, in the lush country atop the Ballina Cutting between Lismore and Ballina. March, you see, is tibouchina time in this northern NSW town and the whole town comes alive with the rich purple flower of this hardy native shrub which grows in parks, on street fringes and, seemingly, in every Alstonville front yard. To celebrate, the town holds the Tibouchina Festival, the event of the year.
Alstonville is a picturesque town whose main street is dotted with older buildings hosting cafes, coffee shops, antique stores and craft galleries. The main stores have transferred to the town's two shopping centres.
Before the surrounding land was tamed to provide a variety of crops and sub-tropical fruit and nuts, it was part of the Big Scrub rainforest which was exploited by 19th century cedar loggers. Remnants of this rainforest are preserved in the Victoria Park Nature Reserve where the boardwalk trails wind through white booyong, red bean and bumpy ash.