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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

Scenic picnic spot at Brunswick Heads gets a facelift

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One of the dead old casuarina trees at the picnic spot behind Brunswick Heads beach which was cut down recently as it posed a danger to the public. It will be replaced with a more appropriate native species. Photo Stephen Booth
One of the dead old casuarina trees at the picnic spot behind Brunswick Heads beach which was cut down recently as it posed a danger to the public. It will be replaced with a more appropriate native species. Photo Stephen Booth

A popular rest spot overlooking the river at Brunswick Heads is undergoing a facelift to improve safety and amenity.

Some locals were recently shocked to see two old, but dead, casuarina trees next to a bench and picnic table adjacent to Torakina Park chopped down by contractors.

The dead trees were deemed dangerous and a safety risk, but were not fenced off before contractors cut them down.

Fears the picnic area, also used by the local surf club for sausage sizzles, would remain without some shade have been allayed by NSW Crown Lands which controls the land behind Brunswick Heads beach.

A spokesman for Crown Lands told Echonetdaily that replacement and more appropriate local native species of trees will soon be planted there.

The spokesman said Crown Lands agreed with Byron Shire Council that the removal of the trees was ‘essential to ensure public safety as both trees were in close proximity to the walking track with picnic tables and seats located under the trees’.

The spokesman said the removal of the trees accorded with relevant legislation.

‘Crown Lands will select and source local native species and replant in early 2015,’ the spokesman said.

Echonetdaily came under fire two weeks ago for publicising the issue, with critics saying the trees were dead and inappropriate species for the dunal area and common sense prevailed, as the dead trees had posed danger to thousands of holiday makers.

Two other dead casuarina trees remain, which also need to be cut down, with overgrown bush covering another old wooden picnic table which cannot be used as a result.

One local said the Echonetdaily ‘beat up’ had lead to a halt to the removal of two other dead trees, including ‘one of the most deadly trees remaining intact: I hope a child doesn’t get killed from a falling branch this summer’.

Brunswick Heads local Stephen Booth, an environmental consultant, said the species in question, Horesetail SheOak (Casuarina equisetifolia) were most likely planted in the mid to late 1960s ‘post sand mining or river mouth re-configuration’.

‘The land is probably reclaimed, not natural,’ Mr Booth told Echonetdaily.

‘Casuarina equisetifolia is an Australian native but not endemic to this site, its natural habitat on the northern NSW coastline being rocky cliffs,’ he said.

‘The tree is a poor landscaping/shade tree, due to it beingrelatively short lived (20-50 years). Its crown has thin leaves and its nettles are salty and acidic and very few plants will tolerate growing underneath it. The timber is very hard, and good firewood.

‘Unfortunately the hardness of the timber means that when trodden on in bare feet, in a beach setting for example, injury is certain to occur.

‘Once dead, the weight and strength of the timber makes it highly dangerous to humans when branches fall, branches being like spears.

‘This species was planted extensively across the Byron Shire coastline post sand mining some 50 years ago, and now having reached the end of their lifespan, the greater majority of those plants are dying.

‘Agencies responsible for the land they inhabit have been cutting those dead trees down for over a decade along the Byron coastline.

‘There are many tree species that could be planted in replacement, however Casuarina equisetifolia is highly unsuitable,’ Mr Booth said.

The dead trees were removed recently.
The dead trees were removed recently.










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  1. Given the history of North Coast Holiday Parks abusive ‘tree management’ strategies it could only be expected to incite locals when the casuarinas adjoining Torakina Beach were lopped. The fact that the affected trees were outside the boundaries of NCHP’s responsibility and they erroneously bore the criticism, does not detract from the ongoing fact that popular vigilance of all the trees along the foreshores and within the caravan parks is needed and definitely to be encouraged.

    Of course, all of the angst about the removal of any tree could be so easily overcome if intention to remove was advertised in the Echo with a map clearly showing location and nominating who is responsible and contact details e.g. NCHP, NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust, Crown Lands, or Byron Shire Council. It is important to remember that all of these trees are on public lands and thus are public assets.

  2. What ???? A supposedly dead tree that the photo clearly shows has green leaves on over 50% of its upper branches. I also have trouble identifying any “spear like” branches destined to impale the of kids Brunswick or the perilous root system that will be the death of any barefoot beachgoer.

    Stephen Booth, what inspired you to write this attack against the Echo and what type of real environmentalist deems a tree admired by many for years as ” good firewood” ? What exactly are your academic qualifications and are you one of those so called environmentalists who work for developers and get paid a fortune to say all is fine when they clearly know it’s not?

    Stephen, do you have any conflicts of interest here because I find it incredibly hard to believe that a local environmentalist thinks it fine to support the so called “Crown Lands” wish to decimate tens of foreshore trees that stand in the way of their planned developments.

    Stephen, if you are legitimate, you should know it is now a bunch of developers (ex Westfield, Lend Lease, McDonalds and Bunnings) who now control all of Brunswick Heads foreshore parkland under the newly established and very controversial NSW Crown Lands Holiday Parks Trust. These people were appointed by the current Coalition Government who took millions illegally in political donations from developers in the last election.

    To give the illusion that this is still under the control of the once respected, transparent and environmentally minded Crown Lands Department, is deceitful. Call it like it is Stephen, this mob has one agenda only and that is to develop our best public parklands for privatisation and if any tree gets in their way, mow them down. Are you also happy they will be cutting down another 10 very healthy trees and paving hundreds of square metres of recreational land in much used and loved Torakina Park, simply to install a dozen more car parks?

    All trees have the potential to drop a branch at any time but very few of us see this as justification to cut them down on suspicion.


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