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Byron Shire
March 23, 2023

Brunswick Heads locals ask where will the children play?

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Children playing at the jumping-off spot on the bridge near Torakina reserve, set to be reduced by a proposed car park, road and pathways. Access to the spot will be impacted on by a controversial new car park inside the grassed picnic area. Photo supplied
Children playing at the jumping-off spot last Christmas on the bridge near Torakina reserve, set to be reduced by a proposed car park, road and pathways. Access to the spot will also be impacted on by a controversial new car park inside the grassed picnic area. Photo supplied

Luis Feliu

Brunswick Heads residents are set to pack out the historic village’s memorial hall on Monday night to debate the controversial state-government approved makeover of the town’s popular foreshore parks.

The meeting at 7pm has been called by the town’s progress association which says locals have not been consulted at all over the proposed changes, some of which, including paving over the popular Torakina picnic reserve with a car park, road and footpaths have sparked anger.

Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson will attend the meeting but it is unknown whether members of the state-appointed NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT) or its affiliate, North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP), will attend.

The trust’s official spokesperson has failed to respond to Echonetdaily questions over Monday night’s meeting.

The Brunswick Heads Progress Association recently letter-boxed locals with a rallying-call leaflet for them to attend the meeting to look closely at the major changes proposed.

As well as a new 18-space car park, access road and pedestrian pathways to replace a swathe of well-used grassed areas, concerns have been raised by the progress association at ‘a new huge’ 400-square-metre raised timber deck with fencing along the foreshore at Banner Park opposite the local pub.

Members of the local Foreshore Protection Group, which has campaigned against controversial encroachments by the NCHP ever since the state government took over the running of the parks from Byron Shire Council nine years ago, say the deck will set a precedent as of building structures ‘right on the water, where there always had to be a buffer’, adding ‘once they do one , the rest then follow’.

The proposed car park inside Torakina reserve  longtime locals say will also ruin and isolate the popular favourite ‘hang out’ spot for teenagers and young children for generations, with a nearby jumping-off spot on the wooden bridge set to be isolated.

The blacked out area showing where the car park will go near the wooden bridge at Torakina.
The blacked out area showing where the car park will go near the wooden bridge at Torakina.

One association member asked Echonetdaily ‘where will the children play?’

The grassed area is used by hundreds of people a week for blanket picnics and sit-down children’s birthday parties and it’s feared least a half dozen native shade trees there will be chopped down to make way for it.

Some locals also say it’s the first step to make paid parking around Torakina and other areas of the town.

While six of the two dozen historic Norfolk Island Pines lining the foreshore will be incorporated into the deck, a large old gum tree which locals have fought to preserve will be chopped down to enlarge the existing playground there.

A huge network of new pathways and lighting for all the foreshore parklands has also raised the ire of locals who say they have not been given any detail on what type of surface will be used for the paths or type and style of lighting.

The trust plans to start work after Easter. Other plans include a dedicated public walkway connecting the boat harbour to the foreshore and other minor upgrades at the trust managed parks at Massey-Greene nearby and Ferry Reserve further up the river.

Online questionnaire

The progress association has asked residents to fill out an online questionnaire to provide feedback to the trust, members of which have been invited by the progress association to attend the meeting.

While some Echonetdaily readers have welcomed proposed upgrades to amenities in the parklands as part of the plan, most fear Gold Coast style over-development will replace the natural charm of the seaside holiday village with its popular open green spaces famed for traditional picnics.

Foreshore Protection Group spokesperson Sean O’Meara said the car park plan was unnecessary as there were over 150 car parking spots within a couple of minutes walk from Torakina Reserve, ‘most of which are empty for 90 per cent of the year’.

‘The additional 18 carparks that are planned to be built inside the reserve will make absolutely no difference to the parking situation in Brunswick on peak summer beach days, which is the only time they will be needed,’ Me O’Meara said.

The layout of the car park.
The layout of the car park.

‘The grassed and treed area where this car park is planned is usually covered in picnickers, soccer and volleyball games, and most weekends at least half a dozen kids birthday parties.

‘It makes zero sense to reduce this heavily used and beautiful recreational space to a fraction of its size just to park a few cars. Thousands of families a year will be then be squeezed into a park 40 per cent smaller.’

Mr O’Meara said a reserve opposite Torakina which has been blocked off to cars by rocks should instead be used as overfill parking space during the peak periods.

‘ If there really is a serious parking issue, it could be fixed in under an hour by removing a couple of rocks and spending $100 on a chain and padlock that is simply opened on busy days,’ he said.

‘Local charities or the surf club would jump at the chance to run the car park on these days as happens in other open areas of Brunswick.

‘Why destroy much used Torakina Reserve for a car park when 20 metres away is a little used space that had been used for parking for years?’

The secretive NCHP Mr O’Meara says has ‘total control of 100 per cent of our towns public foreshore Crown Land’ and revenue mostly goes back to state coffers than locally.

‘This Trust is meant to ensure the protection of our natural spaces and vegetation but their Brunswick Heads plans of management are all about exclusion, cutting down trees, cementing over parks and building out any recreational space they can get their hands on,’ he said.

Locals have also been outraged that more than 2,500 objections to the plans of management were ignored by the trust when seeking approval and and only select groups of users, not resident groups, were cited as having been the ‘stakeholders’ consulted (such as the woodchop committee and local chamber of commerce).

The progress association proudly says it’s the longest-running resident group in NSW.

In a glaring example of  the ‘lack’ of information provided by the trust, it mailed out a glossy brochure to locals a few weeks ago which only briefly mentioned (in two sentences) the proposed major works, yet gave more space in promoting recent awards the parks received.

For the residents’ questionnaire, email brunswick [email protected] (use ‘resident questionnaire’ for subject). For older people or those with no access to the internet can call 0410 024272 for a delivery/pickup within Brunswick Heads.

Full details of the plans of management for the reserves can be found at www.lpma.nsw.gov.au


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  1. Wow! fab idea!!! … now that there’s gonna be heaps’a parkin – howse about building a mega-‘kennels & cattery’ complex all along the beach front – that way every redneck bogan retard in the southern hemisphere – rather than just yer pack’a local yokels – could bring there incontinent canine & feline pets down to Brunz for a proper shitfest … whoopeedoo!!!

    • The word is “malcontent’ in the content. We need a bigger tent for Mal Leyland of the Leyland Brothers in this continent for tourism.

  2. Well, the silent and calm, conservative and mundane village of Brunswich Heads is a jumping. Must be an election on. En election put on for the family.
    Just what a state we are in when we need more car parks that will attract more cars to need even more car parks and traffic.
    Wouldn’t it be better to ban cars from going over the bridge so the foreshore was for people and mums and dads and childern and kids and families so they can play together as family. Just so they can get to know each other. Daughter, this is your father, Son, this is your mother.
    Cars…… cars, are a contraption where people get fat with a spare tyre because they are too lazy to walk.
    This is what we get in a modern society when as kids today’s adults did not have a bridge to jump off. you need to risk your life to grow into a thinking moral adult. You need to risk. Feel the fear, hold your breath as your heart goes into your mouth and you jump off the bridge. It fun. Where will the childern playyayyyyyyyyyyy. We have come a long way but where will the children playyyyyy. Cat Stevens. And ban the cars from going over the bridge to stop the car parks. A park is for people, enjoyment and fun. Not cars. Tails or Heads the NSW government overrules you. They need the petrol money.

  3. I grew up in Brunswick heads I was one of the kids that jumped off the bridge as were many of my friends and family I see no need to build anymore car parks or change anything in brunswick

  4. How awful! I lived in Brunswick Heads and it’s a beautiful place. Progress? I don’t think so! Where will the children play – on concrete.

  5. As if there weren’t plenty of other places to build a car park, but noooo, that would mean walking for 5 mins to the beach!!! Even on the aerial photograph I can see better options for a car park. May as well just let the lazy people park on the beach, why not asphalt the entire beach, that way our cars don’t get so sandy either! How practical! What a joke NSWCHPT and the rest of them are!

  6. Just take a few rocks away from the other side of the road as the above article said – as it used to be. We do need the existing car park & people have been using it the way it is for years; utilise the parking areas opposite the surf lifesaving area which is the area mentioned in the article above.
    I would be one of the objectors in the 2,500 that apparently been ignored by the controlling Park Trust & the NSW State Government. I am incensed that we have been ignored and ask the question: Why have we been ignored?
    People have fought against this controlling by the Park Trust & NSW Government for years and to find out that they are pushing ahead without any compassion, care, understanding, respect for the objectors; plus all the people who could not object for varied reasons, is disgusting.
    The deck at the foreshore of Banner Park is the most disgusting push/shove action imaginable! How long will the pine trees survive once they are covered by the deck is just one issue that will be a consequence of this building on the foreshore!!
    Two other points, the steps at Banner Park & Terrace are to be replaced I read. So why is money being spent to smash these steps for removal and build new ones when these steps are already there?! Why? Jillian Spring

  7. As a resident who spends as much time as he can enjoying our amazing foreshore a car park in Torakina is not what we need, maybe mow the lawns a little more often and paint the toilets. Why is the tail wagging the dog and residents and visitors concerns and amenity not been considered.
    Bruns is one of the last unspoilt by development areas on the coast, this is what brings people here locals and tourists alike.
    Most of the year there is plenty of parking and the few days when festivals or public holidays occur just open the grassed area and allow the Marine Rescue or another worthy course to collect gold coins for parking as has already been suggested.Where the car park is intended to be constructed I regularly see many types of wildlife including Echidnas, Kurrawongs, Kookaburras and Swamp wallabies on the odd night as well as children playing, tourists picnicking and locals chilling out.
    Handing out contracts for expensive , redundant works when our towns roads are potholed and under stress by the constant traffic including the large volume of caravans an campers lacks integrity, I feel we need a Investigation into the integrity and agenda of the North Coast Holiday Parks and the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT] immediately and prior to any work been carried out ensuring transparency and a comprehensive independent audit of all their financials and agendas concentrating but not limited to conflicts of interest both personal or associated.
    As a anonymous quote I read some time ago ” Greed overcomes all obstacles” and our current state Government may have this as their new creed.
    Another possibility is We could also have car parking in the Caravan parks as they have large tracks of land. Who are these people who think for their own profits they can destroy our amenity.
    Listen to us the community, please.

  8. I agree with many other voices here… parking in Bruns is only difficult for a limited time during the year. There is no need to permanently destroy the relaxed ambience 3 generations of my family enjoy. I also agree that opening the “bouldered” area temporarily for local groups to run parking (a la Memorial Park) is preferable.

    Decking opposite the pub and all the other projected works are a travesty.

    For heavens sake listen to the community NCHP and leave this unique town ALONE!


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