David Morris, Byron Bay
It is hard enough having to contend with the hordes that pour into the Bay now, without the ‘news’ from the chamber of commerce gloating over the numbers and demanding the local governments fix the concomitant traffic problems.
I believe it was, and remains, the opening of the Tugun bypass that facilitated quick access to Byron Bay, making it now like some subtropical Southend or Brighton to the ‘greater London’ represented by Brisbane and the satellite towns of SE Queensland.
The so-called Byron Naturally campaign I suspect has made little difference. I have written before of the paradox of something that emphasises the natural attractions of a place when these suffer under the influx of people and vehicles; and of unbridled development, increase in festivals, etc
There are coastal communities on the far south coast now concerned that they are losing their character owing to so-called Sea Changers. It is a moot point why when some people relocate from the cities to coastal towns, they seem to want these places to become a little piece of a city with all the amenities that the city traditionally offers. Why not simply remain in the city?
There seems to be a relentless drive to make Byron Bay and similar towns into links in a chain of coastal conurbation. As the traffic increases, we have the slaves and worshippers of the motor vehicle beating the drum for bypasses.
We have a bypass; it’s called the highway.
I’ve witnessed bypasses in Britain destroy the quality of life in rural England for some villages. They are noisy; they simply fill up with traffic, which expands like a gas (or the human ego) to fill them. The traffic accelerates, making further problems for pedestrians near them.
I am not claiming that all visitors impact on the town in a detrimental fashion. Obviously many are well-intentioned people who simply want a pleasant visit or holiday. But with these burgeoning numbers the negative aspects increase. Littering and alcohol-fuelled noise, misbehaviour and violence being obvious examples.
Simply being a pedestrian in this town grows increasingly hazardous. The unpredictable movements of vehicles, parking, etc. On the pavements themselves you have to watch your back, as skateboarders and cyclists, oblivious, wheel in their own solipsistic world.
When we have state and federal governments that show little concern for the environment, when money talks, it is hard to be optimistic about the future of the place. And not only here. Concerns spread from the Pilbara to the Barrier Reef.
There is irony that Splendour In The Grass is taken from one of Wordsworth’s nobler lines of poetry. Just as the TV scriptwriters borrowed Sea Change from a beautiful song in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. So in my gloom about the New Byron (which I predicted twenty-odd years ago) I also borrow from the Bard; though I suppose ‘rich and strange’ will mean different things to different people!
Nothing of [her] that doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange
Sea nymphs hourly ring [her] knell
Ding, dong bell