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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Attraction owner fears bypass plan

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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.

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  1. It’s crazy the way they have set up the whole thing already.
    I mean… who ever thinks of making the exits and entrances as northbound or southbound only.
    Idiots I’d say!

    You already can’t exit or enter south from the Ballina Airport route but have to go all the way thru Ballina.
    What will happen to those of us in the south who want to go to Bangalow? Will we have to drive all the way to Byron then turn around to come back?
    This is all designed for Queensland tourists by fools sitting in offices.

    Macadamia Castle is an important cultural landmark for this region. Why take it off the map? It effectively promotes the local macadamia industry and provides the only recreation venue in the region which caters to all ages.

  2. I feel for the plight of Mr Gilding and Macadamia Castle. I have met a couple of different families who were basically forced from their homes of decades in a heartless and destructive manner with the recent upgrade through Knockrow. And these families have been detrimentally affected emotionally and mentally to the point of physical illness. Yes, we need improved infrastructure, particularly for the Pacific Highway in this region, but does the RMS have to be so clinical about it all? There has to be a balance somewhere in all of this.

  3. Tony Gilding was one of the most influential people organizing and promoting groups to ensure the upgraded Pacific Highway be constructed on the Plateau rather than the Coastal Plain where his home is situated.

    Mr Gilding made a commercial decision to purchase the Macadamia Castle AFTER the RTA announced the preferred route, knowing full well the risks involved.

    The RTA did include a partial interchange Option at Ivy Lane but withdrew that Option when the overwhelming members of the Community submitted against that Option by 382 to 1.

    The Option for Ivy Lane was approx 1k from the Castle whereas the full interchange at Ross Lane is only 4K from the Castle. Signage would have been required at any of the approved exit Options.

    Signage for Tourism is a Condition of approval by the Dept of Planning and Mr Gilding needs some patience as the RTA haven’t even commenced construction as yet.

    Mr Gilding conveniently forgets another 18,000 signature petition he organized “Highway on the Highway” and the large number of Families who lost their homes along the Plateau.

    Mr Gilding has made an art at crying wolf. Lots of free publicity from the media.

    We all need a Fair Go from Mr Gilding.


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