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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

Bruns fishing co-op sold, to be redeveloped

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Bruns fish co-op
Bruns fish co-op

Luis Feliu

The landmark Brunswick-Byron Fishermen’s Co-op site at the Brunswick Heads boatharbour is set to be redeveloped by its new buyer, a funds management company which has also bought the Ocean Shores shopping centre.

The multi-million-dollar purchases of the prominent northern Byron shire properties was confirmed this morning to Echonetdaily by shopping centre manager Veronica O’Dwyer.

The sale of the co-op and its popular fish and chip outlet is expected to be settled by mid February.

It will bring to an end the 70-year occupation of the site by the fishermen’s co-op, which itself had hoped to redevelop the building and harbour site in  a similar way.

The co-op had the property on the market for years, but the state government is currently developing a master plan for the marina surrounding the freehold co-op site which made the sale of the site a more attractive proposition for developers.

It also had the effect of stalling the co-op’s own plans.

The company buying the two properties, Whistle Funds Management, gave a sneak preview of its plans recently to the Brunswick Heads business chamber.

The fish-and chips outlet, which employs 21 locals on a casual basis, is expected to continue trading under the new development plans to cater to the thousands of tourists and locals who go there throughout the year.

Co-op chairman Chris Thomson told Echonetdaily he was sad to see the end of an era but was hopeful the redevelopment would be in sympathy with what locals wanted on the prominent marina site.

Mr Thomson, one of the co-op’s longest-serving members who joined in the 1970s, said that over the years the local fishing industry had declined due to loss of trawling licences when local marine reserves were established.

At one stage there were 24 prawn trawlers operating out of the harbour but now there is only one.

The struggling  co-op, like most others around Australia, has seen more and more imported fish on the market but prides itself in only selling Australian and New Zealand fish.

Mr Thomson said the redevelopment plans were compatible with what the co-op would like to see and ‘a big plus’.

The government’s draft marine plan is expected to be available for public exhibition in the first half of next year.

He said he expected to be a family-friendly facility with playground and other attractions.

‘I’m sure they’ll maintain the history and nature of the place,’ he said.

The co-op has been the town’s biggest employer for around 70 years.



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  1. Prior to the sale of the Brunswick Fishermen’s Co-Operative (BFCO) a workshop had been convened 19 March 2015 by consultants to the Department of Primary Industries, Ardill Payne. The focus for the workshop was development of the Harbour Precinct, a Crown Lands project headed by project officer Jacqui Parry. (contact [email protected]) which now scoped the 3,500sqm of freehold land occupied by the BFCO.

    The papers attached to the workshop, p12 headed ‘Did we miss anything or anyone?’ was telling! The workshop omitted consideration of any community voice such as the Brunswick Heads Progress Association (BHPA). Subsequent to that workshop Crown Lands has acknowledged that the BHPA is a stakeholder is visioning the future development of this prime foreshore site.

    Hopefully, any future meetings with stakeholders in Brunswick Heads by the new owners, will be inclusive of the community’s voice a need that is already recognised by Crown Lands?

  2. I remember the rock wall being built and the trawlers of those early days with Trawler names Rhonda, Eastern Star, Neptune, Northern Star and many others. A challenging bar! Look forward to the re development and will visit again soon.


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