An Aladdin's cave of sparkling jewels and gemstones laid out in a glamorous array awaits visitors to Lismore's annual Gemfest. It's on at the Showground this Saturday (9am-5pm) and Sunday (9am to 3pm), May 19 and 20. As well as seeing polished stones and handmade jewellery, you can browse the fossils, meteorites and other rare stones the fossickers find. You can even take your tarnished jewellery along and get it cleaned. Perfect place to stock up on presents and marvel in things that come out of the ground without fracking. Entry is $5 adults, $1 kids, under-fives free.
Beef and gravy train
A nostalgic ride on a steam train will be part of the offerings at Casino's Beef Week, with three shuttle trips running each day from Thursday, May 24, to Sunday, May 27. The steam engine formerly known as Thirty-Two Thirty-Seven, built in 1892, will be pulling heritage carriages (the ones with corridors) through picturesque country from Casino to Kyogle Loop (and back). It's important to book, as seats are getting snapped up fast. Phone the Casino Visitors Centre on 6632 2700 or Kyogle Visitors Centre on 6632 2700. Adults $20, seniors $15, over-fours $10 and under-fours no charge, but no seat.
More nostalgia ... the Alstonville Antiques and Collectables Fair is on this Saturday (9am-4.30pm) and Sunday (10am-3pm), May 19 and 20, and brings more exhibitors than ever to the Alstonville Leaisure and Entertainment Centre.There'll be thousands of interesting antiques, unique books, gorgeous collectables and magnificent jewellery from all over the world, as well as toys and dolls from your childhood, oil lamps, figurines and furniture that you admired in your grandparents' home, and tools that transformed Australia from a penal colony into a thriving economy. Proceeds from this event will go to Alstonville Rotary projects.
Ballina - Byron charity walk
Walking in teams of four, 550 people will be spending next Sunday, May 20, footslogging it from Ballina to Byron Bay to raise funds for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter. Olympian walker Kerry Saxy Junna will be with them, as well as a couple of patients who have benefitted from the helicopter service. It starts at Missingham Bridge at 7am after a helicopter fly-past at 6.30am.
An important event will be happening simultaneously across this wide brown land on Tuesday, May 22, at 11am. In libraries everywhere, 170,000 children will snuggle up to listen to a reading of the Nick Bland picture book, The Very Cranky Bear. Locally, it's on at Goonellabah Public Library. Now in its 12th year, National Simultaneous Storytime 2012 aims to celebrate and acknowledge the vital work being done in libraries, schools and communities around Australia to develop young people's literacy and numeracy skills. For more information phone the Goonellabah Public Library on 6625 1235.