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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

No solution in sight for stranded residents

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Residents of Upper Coopers Creek are now completely cut off, a week after Byron Shire Council warned them not to even walk across the landslip site on Upper Coopers Creek Road.

In a letter to the editor, published today, Upper Coopers Creek resident Duncan Shipley-Smith told Echonetdaily, ‘One young family has no telephone landline, no internet and no mobile coverage. They have a four-month-old baby and a six-year-old child in their care. There has been no financial relief from any government agency and many of us are suffering financial hardship because we are unable to attend work.’

This week councillors and staff have had a series of fly-in-fly-out meetings with the stranded residents and another is due today.

But Mr Shipley-Smith said it’s time to end the talkfests and start doing something.

‘We are awaiting the promised ground exploration from the authorities to establish suitable footpaths around the landslip but in the meantime the only access is across a section of creek, which is a hazardous waterfall shin-deep in rushing water.

‘This creek crossing is currently our only avenue of escape in the event of the “catastrophic collapse” of the landslip area as forewarned by Council’s sub-contracted geotechnical engineers. Council’s advice is not to cross the landslip area at all,’ he wrote.

A twice-weekly helicopter delivery of food, gas, medicines and other essential supplies has been organised but even this has been problematic for residents.

‘We are expected to establish accounts with grocery stores and make arrangements for parcels to be delivered to Mullumbimby Showgrounds for shipment by helicopter… however, some in the community have no credit cards or internet banking and must somehow make alternative payment arrangements for essentials or else evacuate,’ Mr Shipley Smith said.

Byron Shire Council has identified a suitable path for an emergency four-wheel-drive track and has obtained permission from landowners to commence construction. But the council says it would be for the use of emergency vehicles only and not available to residents, even as a walking track.

National Parks and Wildlife Service has identified ‘a possible pedestrian walkway from Jasper Hall and across the creek onto the other side of the Upper Coopers Creek Road (the good side). Permission from landowners will be needed and a creek crossing put in place,’ council said yesterday in an email update to residents.

‘This is being progressed,’ it read.

But not quickly enough, according to Mr Shipley Smith, who has formed an Upper Coopers Creek Landslip Action Group page on Facebook.

‘We want vehicular access to and from our homes as soon as possible and demand that a temporary truss bridge be installed immediately. We also demand that the state and federal funding agencies make immediate provisions for disaster relief for affected community members and make funding available to local council to assist them in repairing the road or re-establishing a new one,’ he said.

Read the full letter here. 

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  1. Sorry folks. Did the Council or other Government body CAUSE this landslip? Did they MAKE you live there? Did they PREVENT you from having credit cards or other financial arrangements? Get real. You’ve made your beds, now lie in them. I learnt a song at Sunday school – ‘the foolish man built his house upon the sand… and the rains came down and the floods came up … and the house on the sand went CRASH. The wise man built his house upon the rock, etc. and you know what? When the rains came, his house stood still.”

    I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, but why should my rates subsidise your choices? If YOU choose to live in these places, YOU need to make arrangements for the hard times.

    • Please grow some empathy. If the only street that leads to your home collapsed, you won’t be saying to the authorities not to worry and that you would fix it yourself, find your own food/meds etc . These residents also pay taxes, and your tax money probably isn’t even going to this. The real gripe you should be making is how they are frittering what you assume is your hard earned money on continual helicopter rides for meetings that don’t seem to result in much progress or action.

    • I think you’ll find that those in UCC pay at least as much in rates as you do, and probably have no rubbish collection, mains water or other things that rates generally cover. You may well find that their rate paying is subsidising your grumpy and arrogant existence in Byron. Speaking of building on unsuitable land, I don’t suppose you live on Belongil beach …

  2. Byron Shire Ratepayer, did you also learn to be so mean and selfish at Sunday School? The Council, like all Councils, budgets a certain amount for just such calamities. Are you suggesting that this money should only be used for calamities CAUSED by the Council? Just like you, these people living at Upper Coopers Creek pay rates also, either directly, if they are owner occupiers or indirectly if they are rental tenants. For a calamity of this proportion, State or even Federal relief funds are generally available to reimburse Councils. I guess though that you might not want ‘your taxes’ to be paying to help others either.

  3. It is up to council to maintain roads, and if not able to do so request State and Government assistance. If councils traffic light on Lighthouse Rd in Byron are an indication, of how slow due process can be, it will take more time than the residents of Upper Coopers Creek will want to wait . I am with you, and only more lobbying and protesting will help.
    Cant rely understand “Byron Shire Ratepayers” comment. It’s not Australian! That why he hiding under an Alias, I presume…..

  4. Too right! Where do these country people get off, thinking that they have a right to basic services? Pesky farmers, suggesting that just because they are rate paying Byron Shire residents they should expect functioning roads. When will people realise that only city people should have access to roads?


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