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Byron Shire
October 27, 2021

Thank goodness Byron’s not like Noosa

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The opening of last week’s letter vilifying the new Byron residents group is ‘dirty fighting’. Yuck.

But I went along for ‘this quick plane ride’. I saw something different. I saw a town fitted into a problematic landscape, one prone to flooding from land and sea. I saw a buffer zone of regrowth in some wetlands surrounding the town and a partial buffer zone for subsections of beachfront infrastructure. I saw two waterways with infrastructure set in their floodplains. I saw little sign of stormwater works of a scale required for an existing township.

As the ‘plane ride’ swept over the sea up to Noosa, I saw signs left over of recent heavy rains in the coastal waters. Heading north, I saw the highrise developments and the heavy modification of coastal areas. I then asked the pilot to take me south, as far as the Richmond River. I could see intensified urban and agricultural use of coastal areas.

Yes, it may appear that little of Byron Bay is ‘inhabited’. But it’s the site of two remnant coastal estuary systems, with acid sulfate soils as yet undisturbed and partially healed by the wetlands wastewater works.

Those estuary systems could still be better restored and marine productivity may flourish again. In other words, fish, sea birds, shellfish – now unique to a large stretch of highly modified coast, these only partly affected estuaries and the small coastal stretch are the site of a marine powerhouse of state and national significance.

Mary Gardner, Byron Bay


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