Built in 1902, the Alstonville Police Station has been an enduring government service in the town – both the police service and the original building remain today. The establishment of the station followed the turn of the new century, as well as calls by concerned citizens to police the ‘fisticuffs’ that had begun to take place in the main street.
By the closing decades of the nineteenth century, Alstonville was celebrated for its deep red fertile soil. The landscape was recently cleared of Big Scrub rainforest and transformed into dairy farms. The promise of making profit from butter and cheese attracted a new wave of European settlers to the area from the NSW Far South Coast.
With the growth of the population came the expansion of government and other services in the town, among these was the Police Station and the appointment of a resident police officer. The Federal Hotel was also newly established – 1901 – and indeed it was the reported cause of the troubling fisticuffs that raised calls for a police station. The role of the police in the village was to maintain law and order, and to protect residents from the non-law abiding.
This story looks back at policing on the Plateau and how past crime reflected the nature of the community that established in, and around, Alstonville in the early twentieth century. Expecting to unveil the village’s unacknowledged underbelly, a survey of Alstonville’s past crime turned up unusual, and somewhat humorous, situations – judging by today’s standards. The contemporary voice of the village’s longest serving Police Officer, Paul Parrington, provides a glimpse of policing the village into recent decades.
By Monty and Jack (Alstonville High School), Elaine (Alstonville Plateau Historical Society) and Susie Forster, in collaboration with Paul Parrington.