George Hunt came to the Richmond River with his parents and six siblings in 1906 aged 16. They settled first at Box Ridge and then Tuckurimba where three generations of Hunts have farmed the land. He acquired his first camera, a half plate Thornton Pickard, in 1908 and chronicled town, farm and river life all around the district. He had a tripod and a black cloth lined with scarlet which went over the camera and his head. George learned to develop his own photos with the family bathtub enamel falling victim to the many harsh chemicals.
George’s photos were published in many journals and newspapers and he was even offered a job by the Sydney Mail but his father insisted that he was needed on the farm. He married Ciss Cameron in 1926 and raised a family on the Tuckurimba farm growing gladioli and orchids as well as dairy cattle. He and Ciss were very community minded and served on many committees.
The Richmond River district is grateful for this astonishing collection – without which, so much of the history of the area would have been lost.
The Hunt Collection book
During 2020, the entire collection of 1100+ photos were rescued from an old cupboard by researcher Jacqui Kennedy. They were delicately peeled out of old sticky albums; digitised; catalogued and then preserved in archival sleeves. The Australian National Maritime Museum provided a grant to help with the conservation of the river boat photos.
Much gratitude goes to George’s son Ray and the entire Hunt family for their support throughout this process. In 2022, Jacqui and her team of Trove researchers set about to produce a book of beautifully restored images with comprehensive information about each boat.
The result is a stunning 54 page hardcover book featuring the boats from the Richmond River from small river boats to large cargo steamers. It also contains an overview of 100 years of maritime history from the district.
The book is available for $40 from the Ballina Naval Museum and the Ballina District Museum. Copies can also be obtained online and posted anywhere in Australia. Visit this link to order a copy now.
The Maritime Collection
George was a prolific photographer and as their farm was situated on the banks of the North Arm of the Richmond River (now Wilson River), he took a photo of every boat that passed by. He had a great “eye” for framing shots, and was able to capture the moment for posterity.
This collection is invaluable, with over 500 pictures depicting maritime life on the Northern Rivers in the first half of the 20th century.
Small River boats
List of boats in the George Hunt Collection
The galleries on this page are only a small sample of the 500+ maritime photos in the collection. To make it easier for researchers, the list of boats below is included for your reference. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to view any of the other photos not shown in the galleries.
Captain T Fenwick
City of Grafton
George E Billings
Sarah L Hixson
|Swallow train ferry Grafton|
US Naval warships visit Sydney Harbour July 1925
Family History book
One of the Hunt descendants, Jenny Morgan, has produced a stunning 150 page family history book Tales of Tuckurimba. Jenny has thoroughly researched the Hunt/ Fordham families though their migration to Australia, their settlement in the Southern Highlands and their move to the Richmond River. It covers the lives of the eight Hunt children and all their descendants and is a comprehensive and detailed narrative of life in Australia for the early settlers.
Jenny’s book can be ordered through Lulu using this link
The whole collection
George was so much more than a photographer of boats. He took thousands of photos of family groups, animals, birds, farm activities, community events, trains, planes and ships. He enjoyed experimenting with portraits and landscapes and always had a selection of willing family members and young women in the neighbourhood who would dress up in their finery to have their photos taken.
The galleries below contain a brief selection from each category. All the photos remain under the copyright of Ray Hunt but may be used by historians for non-commercial purposes with the appropriate attribution.
Please contact email@example.com if you would like hi-res copies or if you can identify any of the people in the photos.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Floods and Aerial photos
Although George loved aeroplanes, he never got to go up in one. These aerial photos were in his collection however we are assuming that they are the work of Jack Hazzard from Casino. They were good friends and often swapped photographs. Any further information would be welcome. Email
Two of George’s brothers went to WWI – Percy and Walter. Although they both returned, Walter was seriously injured and spent time in Rosemount hospital. He died of his wounds in 1927.
This photo shows the lads from the Richmond area, having just signed up at Lismore, heading to Ballina to get a steamer to Sydney and then off to the front. Someone on board, seeing George on the wharf with his camera, has lined up the young soldiers, with shouldered arms, to get their photo taken.
Gladys Hunt’s poems
George’s sister Gladys wrote many books of poems and short stories during her life. Several were published and the four that appear below were made into short videos using George’s photographs. The poems are read by Anna Kidd, one of the Hunt descendants.
Please be patient and wait for videos to load – it all depends on your internet connection. You can also find them on Youtube