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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Here & Now #23

Latest News

Shenhua gone and Breeza breathes again

In a much-hoped-for move, the NSW Government and the China Shenhua Energy Company Limited have reached a $100 million agreement in which Shenhua will withdraw its mining lease application and surrender its development consent for the Shenhua Watermark Coal project at Breeza on the Liverpool Plains.

Other News

Yamba restaurants

I’m often asked about Yamba, one of our favourite holiday spots over the last 20 years. With a great range of beaches, walks, tennis courts, skate parks and accommodation etc it’s been great for the kids growing up, and they still love it. Plus, it’s now only 90 minutes’ drive from Mullumbimby.

Step up, Ben

Martin Corben, Lennox Head With the cancellation of Bluesfest now would be a good time for the NSW state government’s...

Koala Wars

James Wright, Byron Bay On reading Dailan’s ‘Koala Wars’ I felt compelled introduce the readers to interesting debate about the health and...

MVP is its own award

It’s easy to get excited about Byron’s new MVP restaurant in Lawson St – it’s not only got standout dishes such as Blue Spirulina Linguine with blue swimmer crab and Yamba prawns, and Fettuccine al Ragù with Hayters Hill beef ragù sauce, feta and baby peas, but it’s also all sustainably sourced from local growers, available in takeaway (even delivered if you’re close to town) and more than half of the menu is plant-based.

A coast in need of management

It appears that the long-suffering management of perhaps the region’s most precious resource and attraction, Byron Shire’s beaches and estuaries, are not a high priority for Sydney-based bureaucrats and the Liberal-Nationals government.

Housing crisis and Council

Avital Sheffer, Mullumbimby Population growth in this Shire is inevitable like it or not. Those who are being pushed out by...

Image S Sorrensen
Image S Sorrensen

S Sorrensen

Lismore. Tuesday, 7.30pm

Lismore pumps.

Don’t laugh. Just a few minutes ago, a car skidded its wheels all the way down Brunswick Street as far as the caravan park. Then, only a minute later, I heard a police siren. Action city.

Yep, the place is rockin’. I’ve only been living in Lismore for three hours and already I’ve eaten exotic food, heard tyres squealing and watched the Westpac chopper land.

It’s only Tuesday. Imagine what it’ll be like on Friday.

Cities (or towns that like to call themselves cities, such as Lismore) are the hallmarks of progressive humanity. A city (or polis as the ancient Greeks called it) was the cradle of western civilisation when it began in Greece more than three thousand years ago. It was the very start of our western culture. Cities are where democracy began… and where it will end.

I have lived most of my life in the bush. I was raised in a country town and I knew I’d live in the bush when I grew up. Then, when the opportunity came to buy some land in the north coast hills decades ago, I did. It was cheap. I believed the safest place to be in this ever-changing modern world is with people no-one cares about, on land that no-one wants.

Well, that’s how it used to be, but unfortunately there’s gas in them thar hills. And beef potential in the national parks. And potential shipping ports in the reef. And as every politician will tell you, such development is essential for their prosperity. Corporations are dismantling civilisation as surely as materialism has dulled the human spirit.

The ancient Greeks didn’t have political parties in their democracy. Or even representatives. You participated and represented yourself. (As long as you were a bloke, of course.) You have lots of small city states (like Lismore) rather than one huge state, or democracy doesn’t work. Local councils are the last remnants of true democracy.

Come to think of it, the Australian Constitution says nothing about parties either. Parties, like corporations, are non-human human creations that have come to dominate the way we interact with each other and our environment. They serve not the people, but themselves.

Anyway, part-depressed, part-inspired, I want to experience the humanity, the communality, the sophisticating of society that cities nurtured. I want to reconnect with the best in humanity. So I’ve parked my little caravan in a caravan park in Lismore.

Oh yeah, I’m an adventure seeker. And now, I’m a Lismore parkie.

From a tent not far from me comes the sound of one lung coughing. From a row of caravans on powered sites (my caravan is solar powered) comes the corporate rumble of televisions with the distinctive blue flicker leaking like toxic waste from behind floral curtains.

I’m sitting outside my van in a camping chair eating takeaway Thai. I have an extra chair out for company. But everyone is inside their vans, tents and cabins. A dog trots through the park. Excited, I wave at it and call it over. It doesn’t come.

A man with a big beard and a limp stumbles towards me. I prepare for contact. This is what cities are about: connection, social participation. Maybe there’s hope…

But at the last moment the man utters an obscenity, his head turns left and then his body follows it awkwardly towards the amenities block like an injured Robocop.

All is quiet except for the occasional lung-bursting hack and the constant television hum. A heavy doof beat thumps down the road. Far away, a woman screams.

The Thai is good… but the city is a lonely place.

I wish the chopper would land again.


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  1. You should start a new lifestyle show, “Renovation Caravan”, or “Caravan rules” or “Parkie Rescue” or “Renovantion” (ok that’s one to many now).

    great paint job on your little van.

    Thanks for your observations, always leaves me with a grin……


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