Plans to promote Byron Bay better to families over summer and provide family-friendly New Years Eve celebrations were discussed at a meeting of the shire’s Summer Safety Committee yesterday evening.
And the announcement that the celebrated Falls Festival will be taking up residence at the Splendour site during the period has added an alternative option for backpackers and revellers.
Three break-out groups focusing on traffic, family entertainment, and a youth celebration got out the butchers paper and brought back a range of creative ideas to end Byron’s binge-town image.
Under the gradually coalescing plan, the focus will be on 9pm fireworks with a parade of sorts, food stalls and kids’ entertainment in the early evening.
A teens-to-adults, alcohol-free dance party at YAC will kick off mid-evening, auspiced by Byron Shire Council.
In a carrot-and-stick approach, visitors will be encouraged to park at Byron High School or the Sports and Cultural Complex and catch alcohol-free shuttle buses into town.
Private vehicles won’t be permitted beyond the high school or the railway crossing from early in the day till late at night without an identifying sticker, which will be given free to residents and sold to visitors in the lead-up period.
Local community representative Rory O’Halloran said the lockout was key to the plan.
‘We need to turn away people who are only coming into Byron Bay to party in the streets and trash our town for one night,’ he said.
‘A well managed traffic plan with park-n-ride and security on Byron Bay’s town entrances, will keep out many of the undesirable elements that can creep in on the night,’ he added.
Roads leading from Lawson Street to the beach will be closed from early morning and all parked cars cleared. Jonson Street will be closed to traffic from mid-afternoon to make way for a parade from the Community Centre to the beach in the early evening.
In the days leading up to the event, craft workshops at the Community Centre will encourage kids to make lanterns and street decorations for use on the night.
The events group, led by mayor Simon Richardson, thought the Bay should go back to its roots to offer a range of beachside activities including drumming, busking and fire twirling.
Cr Richardson said he had spoken to local MP Don Page, indicating Byron would be seeking funding for the event, which he said was ‘essential’ if the town were to rid itself of its boozy reputation.
The youth party, on the other hand, was seen as a self-funding event, with up to 1,000 attendees each paying $20 a ticket. Entertainment would be provided by DJs and through a local band search, with the possibility of a headline act provided by the nearby Falls Festival.
‘The alcohol-free event will be a safe place for our local people to celebrate [and] keep young people engaged, not wandering the streets,’ said BUDDI team leader Nicqui Yazdi.
But there will be other options for New Year’s Eve, with the announcement of The Falls Music & Arts Festival holding a three-day event at the North Byron Parklands site from December 31 to January 3, for those aged 18 plus.
Brandon Saul, director Falls Festival Byron Bay, said he is absolutely committed to positively contributing to and engaging with the local community.
‘Apart from locals’ involvement in the festival itself through programming local acts, arts activities, staffing and locals’ tickets, Falls Festival Byron Bay will contribute funds and expertise to assist with the running of council events and activities planned for Byron Bay township over the New Year period.
‘We’ll also be running a youth skills program that will give local youth hands-on experience and mentoring in carpentry, construction, bush regeneration and event management,’ Mr Saul said.
Mayor Richardson said it was a positive meeting with the committee considering how to best use the talents and facilities of the shire, for the benefit of the locals.
‘By providing spaces for adults and our young to celebrate, whilst keeping our town for families and those seeking a chilled farewell to the year, we can tap into the creative community richness of the Shire and show this to the world.’
The Safety Committee was drawn from the local community through an expression-of-interest process, together with mayor Richardson and Cr Paul Spooner.
Last night’s meeting included input from a range of ‘ideas’ people, such as members of Kulchajam, BYS and BUDDI.
Invited but missing from last night’s meeting were representatives of VIA Byron, Byron United, Byron Liquor Accord and the Holiday Letting Organisation.