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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

Bluegrass festival benefited rail-trail lobby

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The weather was great, the music fantastic: an event presented by a witty compere and supported by awesome audio mixing.

I and friends attended the inaugural Bangalow Barbeque and Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, and had a fabulous time. Families danced  and tapped to the music in the winter sun.

It was spoiled only by an off-note at the end of the day.

I’m talking of the presentation of $10,000 of fundraising to the proponents of the controversial rail trail.

This family event was advertised as ‘All proceeds to support Arts and Culture’ and the donation of $5,000 to the Arts in Schools program fits that aim, and is most welcome.

But having the bulk of the funds raised go to a political lobby group, which was all prepared with publicity props and the Tweed mayor in tow, somehow doesn’t feel right.

Why wasn’t the event promoted primarily as a Rail Trail fundraiser? Why wasn’t the Byron mayor there? And how much ‘art and culture’ is really involved in a lobby group’s activities?

I’m sure quite a few in the audience were puzzled by the Tweed mayor’s presence. Some in the audience, surprised by the turn of events, called out for trains to be brought back.

I felt like a second-hand banjo,  a bit used!

Perhaps the organisers can consider a more transparent and even-handed approach to their worthy patronage when planning for next year’s event, and steer away from divisive issues.

Jim Richardson, Clunes

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  1. What an amazing deception of the public! I suppose deception could be described as an Art. Who is responsible for diverting everybody’s contributions into a partisan issue?
    The Rail Trail lobby group has had far too much promotion for a minor recreation facility that is now threatening the future of the region’s main transport facility. Let’s get some balance – do we want improved regional transport, or yet another cycleway to add to the existing Coastal Cycleway?

  2. To be fair to the organisers of the event, which I also enjoyed even as a vegetarian (!), they advertised (Page 15 of last week’s Echo 29 July) that the event would support ‘National Rail Trail’, saying ‘This year the festival is also supporting the Northern Rivers National Rail Trail.’ I don’t know what was said elsewhere. In the Echo it also said the Kids Games stands were raising money for ‘Arts in Schools’.

    I thought I heard Tweed Mayor Barry Longland in accepting the cheque for $10,000 on behalf of Rail Trail, say that as chair of NOROC he knew ‘all the mayors’ were solidly behind the rail trail project

  3. Deceitful indeed. No wonder people were yelling out bring back our trains. The rail trail group is a self-interest lobby group and shouldn’t be the recipient of money raised at events like this – all the money should have gone to not for profits that service the needs of the community at large. The fact that the rail trail group was to be funded by income from the event should have been emblazoned everywhere because there was more than one person there who would have not supported the event if they’d known – given what a divisive issue this is. I’m sure quite a few people were royally pissed off when they found out. I know I am.

  4. The original highway back in the late 1800s and up until the 1930s was Friday Hut Rd ,thank goodness they decided to find a better route to take them thru to the 2000s.The same can be said for the 1880s designed route for the trains, yes but on a route that takes us into the 2100s. Population growth has moved and so must the future rail system. Sure I would love a train but we must be realistic and look at the big picture ,not just our personal gratification.If Goonellabah,Ballina,Lennox Head and Pootsville to Tweed Heads aren’t serviced by trains then it is a complete waste of time.

  5. The same argument could be used re the Coolangatta & Ballina airports; why don’t the planes go to Byron to pick up their passengers? We constantly see the TV ad for the shuttle buses taking people to the airports from Byron Bay. So that is a rediculous reason to say we cannot have trains from Casino to Murwillumbah to connect everybody along the way & bring the tourists in. Ballina & Tweed as reasons against our trains mentioned in the ARUP Rail Study & by MPs were/are furphies to try to add credence to their feeble ‘arguments’. Check the SMH 2 Aug 2014 by Michael West re roads etc & proceedings filed against ARUP. Jillian Spring


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