Popular family theme-park Macadamia Castle, as well as a dedicated tourist drive, are in jeopardy after new highway plans were announced by the state government last week.
The RMS (Roads and Maritime Services, previously the RTA) say provisions are now being made for a direct exit for north-bound Pacific Highway traffic into Bangalow. Macadamia Castle owner Tony Gilding says the turn-around in highway plan leaves his business, which employs 50 locals, out in the cold. The original highway design, he says, included an exit at Ivy Lane, right next to the Castle, which has since been scrapped.
He is calling on the minister for the north coast and local MP, Don Page, to instruct the RMS to provide mitigation measures to ensure the Castle survives.
‘We need to be given a fair go here. I have 17,000 signatures on a petition calling for good access for the Castle. This is much more than the population of Bangalow, so I believe if they deserve an exit so do we,’ he says. ‘We pump around two million dollars a year back into the local economy. We support local producers, run a green, clean business, and provide educational and cultural value to our community that cannot be measured. None of this has been taken into account by the RMS,’ he says.
As it stands, says Tony, he has received no real support from the RMS, nor any commitment to what kind of signage will be provided or when.
‘They say they are going to produce a signage plan, but they haven’t come up with anything firm yet,’ says Tony.
‘The highway will run directly behind us, along our back fence, which means all our animals, which were at the back of the property away from the highway, will be right next to the traffic. We also need to consider sound-proofing to protect our animals.
‘The RMS has no strategy for dealing with the fall-out of their massive highway upgrades. The personal and economic effects of these highway re-routes are not properly dealt with in my opinion. We want the Ivy Lane exit reinstated, endorsement for the Hinterland Way, which was a truly collaborative venture developed by local communities, and proper signage for the very confusing exit plan that the RMS is proposing. This is a small cost to save the Castle, which is the largest private employer in the area.’
Echonetdaily asked Don Page’s office for comment but no response was received by press time.