Tweed Shire will soon have another scenic lookout for tourists and locals alike to enjoy after councillors approved a plan to close down an unsightly waste transfer station on a hill at Tyalgum and take advantage of its panoramic views across the Tweed Valley.
Tweed Shire Council will now seek input from the community on a design for the lookout on the site between Tyalgum and Limpinwood, used for years as a rubbish transfer station, which staff say had declined in use owing to expansion of a bin collection service to rural areas.
A public meeting was recently held and community consultation conducted to explore options for the site.
In their report, staff said the favoured option was the closure of the transfer station at the end of the current financial year and the establishment of a scenic lookout, with a large slice of savings from the closure put pack into community infrastructure over the next four years.
The plan had originally divided the community, with some saying a lookout taking advantage of the hill’s spectacular views would be a tourism boon to the village and others fearing locals would bury or burn their rubbish if the transfer station were closed.
A submission also was made by the local Aboriginal community highlighting the cultural value of the Tyalgum site, identified as one of the routes taken by the Aboriginal people when travelling from the Tweed Valley across the McPherson Ranges to Beaudesert in Queensland.
Staff said that some form of interpretive signage acknowledging the culturally significant aspects of the region ‘would be of great value to all people and lend to the significance of tourism in the area’.
‘This site was seen as providing an excellent vantage point from which to view many of the culturally significant features of the region,’ their report said.
Other organisations told Council they recognised the value of providing an easily accessed viewing platform or scenic lookout that is likely to attract tourism and visitors to the area.
‘The relative ease of access was seen as a very valuable in diversifying this from the Mount Warning walk,’ staff said.
Councillors voted 6–1 (Cr Gary Bagnall against) at their last meeting for the lookout option, with funds from savings to be set aside for maintenance of the lookout and local infrastructure projects.
During debate, Cr Carolyn Byrne said the Tyalgum community had requested the scenic lookout option for its tourism potential to appreciate and show off the area’s natural beauty and they felt a transfer station was ‘a bit dated’ because of the new collection service.
Cr Byrne said the fear that closing the transfer station would create more illegal dumping was not justified as people ‘still dump illegally even when it’s open’, and keeping it open was also costing ratepayers money.
But Cr Bagnall said many residents wanted the transfer station retained and that farmers would ‘burn or bury their waste as a result’.
Tyalgum resident Meggan Jack welcomed the decision, saying the vantage point near the village ‘enjoys spectacular views’ and many thought it was ‘totally wasted as a waste-transfer station’.
‘Our local businesses around the caldera will all benefit. The tourists we see in our village [art] gallery are always very keen to learn more about it, to fully understand the caldera better,’ she said.
‘This viewing lookout is kept secret. Many tourists drive past it every day, some stopping further down the hill, trying to get a photo of the mountain, in less-than-safe spots to pull over.’
Meanwhile, councillors at the last meeting voted 6–1 (Cr Byrne against) to set up drop-off recycling stations at Council’s civic centres, schools and businesses for waste such as batteries, compact fluorescent lights/fluorescent lighting, mobile phones and ink cartridges.