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Lismore, New South Wales facts for kids

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New South Wales
Lismore from helicopter, overlooking the Bruxner Highway and Lismore CBD
Lismore is located in New South Wales
Location in New South Wales
Population 28,720 (2018)
Established 1856
Postcode(s) 2480
Elevation 12 m (39 ft)
LGA(s) City of Lismore
County Rous
State electorate(s) Lismore
Federal Division(s) Page
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
25.5 °C
78 °F
13.2 °C
56 °F
1,343.0 mm
52.9 in

Lismore is a city in northeastern New South Wales, Australia and the main population centre in the City of Lismore local government area; it is also a regional centre in the Northern Rivers region of the State. It is situated on a low flood plain on the banks of the Wilsons River near the latter's junction with Leycester Creek, both tributaries of the Richmond River which enters the Pacific Ocean at Ballina, 30 km (19 mi) to the east. The original settlement initially developed as a grazing property in the 1840s, then became a timber and agricultural town and inland port based around substantial river traffic, which prior to the development of the road and rail networks was the principal means of transportation in the region. Use of the river for transport declined and then ceased around the mid-twentieth century, however by that time Lismore (which was elevated to city status in 1946) had become well established as the largest urban centre in the region, providing its surrounding area with a range of services. The city is also located on the Bruxner Highway which crosses the Wilsons River at Lismore, and was formerly a stop on the Casino-Murwillumbah railway line. It is the home of one of the three campuses of Southern Cross University.

With its low-lying position adjacent to the Wilsons River, which can rise rapidly following periods of high rainfall in its catchment, the centre of Lismore is susceptible to flooding, although it is partly protected by a system of levees and flood gates. Noteworthy recent floods occurred in 1974, 2017 in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and the worst ever in 2022. A budget was announced for additional flood mitigation works in November 2018.

As of June 2018, the urban population of Lismore was 28,720.


The city of Lismore lies in the Bundjalung people's nation area. However, the actual area of the Bundjalung people from Evans Head is currently under examination, as well as the actual origin of the name Bundjalung. It has been suggested that the Aboriginal people called the area Tuckurimbah meaning "glutton."

The European history of the city begins in c. 1843: a pastoral run covering an area of 93 square kilometres (36 sq mi) was taken up by Captain Dumaresq at this time covering the Lismore area and was stocked with sheep from the New England area. Ward Stephens took up the run in the same year, but the subtropical climate was unsuited for sheep grazing, so it was eventually abandoned. In January 1845, William and Jane Wilson took it over. The Wilsons were Scottish immigrants, who arrived in New South Wales in May 1833. One theory has it that Jane Wilson was responsible for naming the location for Lismore, Scotland, where the couple had honeymooned, whereas another one is that it was named after Lismore, Ireland because of the similarity in the scenery.

In 1855, the surveyor Frederick Peppercorne was instructed by Sir Thomas Mitchell to determine a site for a township in the area. Peppercorne submitted his map of the proposed village reserve on 16 February 1856. The chosen site was William Wilson's homestead paddock and the area was proclaimed the "Town of Lismore" in the NSW Government Gazette on 1 May 1856. The township was soon settled and its Post Office was opened on 1 October 1859. Lismore was incorporated as a municipality on 5 March 1879, and was eventually proclaimed a city on 30 August 1946. From the mid-1950s until the early 1960s Lismore hosted an annual Floral Carnival in early September. The week-long programme of events culminated in a street parade of decorated floats, crowning of the Floral Queen and a fireworks display.


Lismore and surrounding towns were once part of the rainforest referred to as "The Big Scrub", of which less than one percent remains following the European settlement. A section of this rainforest is viewable in the grounds of the Southern Cross University and at Wilsons Nature Reserve on Wyrallah Road.


Molesworth Street, Lismore
Molesworth Street, Lismore

Lismore is located on the Bruxner Highway and it lies at the confluence of the Wilsons River (a tributary of the Richmond River) and Leycester Creek, The state capital city of Sydney is located 764 km (475 mi) to the south by highway. Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, is 200 kilometres (124 mi) to the north.

Lismore's central business district is located 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the eastern coast, and 46 kilometres (29 mi) southwest of Byron Bay. The coastal town of Ballina is 36 kilometres (22 mi) away. There are a number of rainforest patches in the area, remnants of the Big Scrub. These are preserved today, with a small pocket known as Boatharbour Reserve just east of town on the Bangalow road. The nearest large and publicly accessible national park is Nightcap National Park.


Lismore experiences a humid subtropical climate with mild to warm temperatures all year round and ample rainfall. Temperatures in summer range between 20 °C (68 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F). The subtropical climate combined with geographical features means the urban area is unusually humid when compared with surrounding areas, with humidity levels often reaching 100% in summer. Lismore has 109.6 clear days annually.

Although no major environmental hazards affect the area, Lismore is renowned for frequent floods. One of the worst of these occurred in 1974, when waters rose to a height of 12.1 metres (40 ft). In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh almost became flood-bound by one such inundation when they were staying at the Gollan Hotel. Following a flood in 2001, the then Premier of New South Wales, Bob Carr, initiated a flood levee program to curb the problem. Nonetheless, around 3000 residents of Lismore were evacuated after floods affected much of the area on 30 June 2005, many being temporarily housed on the campus of Southern Cross University. However, a new levee that had been completed two weeks prior limited damage and stopped the water reaching the central business area.

Lismore is often hit by severe storms in spring and summer. For example, there was a severe hailstorm on 9 October 2007. A tornado is an extreme rarity, but later that same month one struck nearby Dunoon. It was captured on video as it hit an electrical transformer station there.

Climate data for Lismore
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 43.4
Average high °C (°F) 29.9
Average low °C (°F) 18.8
Record low °C (°F) 11.6
Rainfall mm (inches) 155.4
Humidity 58 61 60 58 59 56 51 46 45 50 51 55 54
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 12.9 13.9 15.6 12.5 11.6 9.5 8.3 7.5 7.4 9.0 10.0 11.4 129.6
Source #1: Bureau of Meteorology
Source #2: For February record high: Weatherzone


According to the 2016 census of population, there were 28,407 people in Lismore.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 6.1% of the population.
  • 83.3% of people were born in Australia. The most common other countries of birth were England 2.0%, New Zealand 1.0%, Philippines 0.5%, Italy 0.4% and Germany 0.4%.
  • 87.5% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Italian at 0.8%.
  • The most common responses for religion were No Religion 30.7%, Catholic 22.4% and Anglican 15.0%.

The population reached a recent peak of 29,320 at June 2012 and since has experienced a gradual decline to 28,720 in 2018.


The Norco Co-operative has its headquarters in Lismore. The main campus of Southern Cross University is in Lismore.

Sister cities

Lismore formed a sister city relationship with the Japanese city of Yamatotakada in Nara Prefecture in 1963. The first such relationship established between Australia and Japan, it was initiated by Lismore-born Marist priest and writer Paul Glynn. Lismore is also a sister city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland.


  • Mayor Issac Smith
  • Member of Federal Parliament Kevin Hogan
  • Member of State Parliament Thomas George


Lismore is featured in the first verse of the original version of Geoff Mack's "I've Been Everywhere" and also mentioned in the Midnight Oil song "Outside World".

Sport and recreation

The most popular sport in Lismore is Rugby league. The city has two clubs competing in the strong Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League Competition:

  • Wolvescolours.svg Lismore Marist Brothers Rams
  • South Sydney colours.svg Northern United Dirrawongs

Lismore Marist Brothers Rams won the prestigious Clayton Cup in 1987, as the premier local rugby league team in Country New South Wales Competitions with a 17-1 record across the season.

Lismore is a strong-hold of Association Football, with six clubs affiliated with Football Far North Coast being located in Lismore and near surrounds:

  • South Lismore – formed in 1943
  • Lismore Workers – formed as Eastwood in 1949
  • Lismore Thistles – formed in 1958
  • Richmond Rovers – formed in 1961
  • Italo Stars – formed in 1966
  • Goonellabah – formed in June 1969

The Albert Park complex is home to the Far North Coast Baseball Association and Lismore is considered one of the strongest centres for Baseball in Australia.

The Lismore Swans founded in 1983 represent Lismore in Australian rules football and competes in the AFL North Coast competition.


  • Southern Cross University has its home campus located in Lismore, offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in disciplines including business and law, tourism, humanities and social sciences, creative and performing arts, education, environment, marine and forest sciences, engineering, health and human sciences, law and Indigenous studies. The University was established in 1994 and has campuses at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, and Gold Coast, Queensland. The University has students from more than 80 countries around the world.

Lismore and the surrounding area is home to a number of public and private schools, including:

  • Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Primary School
  • St Carthage's Catholic Primary School
  • Blue Hills College
  • Kadina High School
  • Lismore High School
  • Lismore South Public School
  • Richmond River High School
  • St John's College, Woodlawn
  • Summerland Christian College
  • Trinity Catholic College, Lismore
  • Vistara Primary
  • Living School Lismore

Notable people

Notable people from or who have lived in Lismore include:

  • Lindsay Aked OAM – composer, 2011 recipient of Order of Australia Medal. Born in Lismore in 1930.
  • Peter Arnison AC, CVO – Major General, Land Commander Australia 1994–1996, Governor of Queensland 1997–2003
  • Julian AssangeWikiLeaks founder, once lived in Lismore
  • Andrew Barr – the 7th Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, was born in Lismore in 1973
  • Lisa Casagrande – a footballer who played 64 internationals for the Matildas from 1994 to 2000 including the 1995 and 1999 FIFA Women's World Cups and the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games was born in Lismore in 1978.
  • Ron Casey – Sydney based radio and television personality
  • Con Colleano – a tightrope walker, was born in Lismore in 1899
  • Harold Warnock Cottee – a co-founder of Cottee's drinks
  • Bob Ellis – a writer, journalist, filmmaker and political commentator, was born in Lismore in 1942
  • Craig Foster – former Socceroo, human rights advocate, was born in Lismore in 1969
  • Paul Foster was born in Lismore in 1967.
  • Peter Gahan – an Australian baseball player and the only FNCBA player to have their Australian player number retired.
  • Adam Gilchrist – a cricketer, lived in Lismore from the age of 13
  • Paul Glynn – a Marist missionary priest and writer, was born in Lismore in 1928
  • Terry Greedy – a Socceroo goalkeeper was born in Lismore
  • Grinspoon – a pop/rock band, originated in Lismore
  • Nicholas Hamilton – an actor mostly known for his role as Henry Bowers in It
  • Lurline Hook – gold medallist diver at the 1938 British Empire Games
  • Martin Kennedy – a professional rugby league player
  • Brian Kelly – a professional rugby league player
  • Andrew King – a professional rugby league player
  • Chris King – a professional rugby league player
  • David Mead – a National Rugby League player
  • Adrian Meagher – an Olympic baseball player
  • Bruce Mitchell – an Oxford scholar of Old English, was born in Lismore in 1920
  • Maia Mitchell – an actress best known for her role as Callie Adams Foster on The Fosters and Good Trouble
  • Margaret Olley AC – an Australian artist, was born in Lismore
  • Nigel Roy – a professional rugby league footballer, was born in Lismore in 1974
  • Tony Smith – a rugby league coach
  • James Strong AO – a former CEO of Qantas
  • Emma Tom – a writer, journalist and media commentator
  • Ronald Harry Wharton OBE, FAA (1923–1983) – a zoologist and entomologist, particularly for the CSIRO
  • Edwin Wilson – poet and painter, born Lismore 1942

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