This morning I took a walk on the Lighthouse Track, thinking that the National Park, at least, would be unchanged. Alas, no. The terrace by the cafe near the lighthouse is being torn up, so the cafe is closed. If you are thinking about enjoying a reviving beverage while calmly enjoying the view, forget it.
This caused me to review in my mind all the changes that are going on in Byron. A new hospital is going up, with a new roundabout in front of it, and another roundabout is planned for McGettigans Lane. The route to town will soon be wild and whirling as well as gridlocked. Soon there will presumably be construction on the old hospital site too.
Half of the Wollie’s car park is becoming a deluxe shopping centre with underground parking. The old council chambers in Lawson Street is being extensively renovated, as is the corner shop near the clocktower.
West Byron seems destined for huge changes, and in an effort to cope, the Shirley Street entrance to town is being reconstructed, we all hope for the better. And who knows where the markets are going?
Soon nothing in Byron will be the same except the beaches. Oops, sorry, no, I forgot Belongil.
After all these changes, will the town be better?
To be honest, as far as the tourist business is concerned, I think the answer is yes. Tourists love to squander their money on overpriced goods of little value. Witness the number of clothing shops in the main street. Why should the whole Byron experience be any different?
As far as being a place where real people live, however, I think the answer is no. I think Byron will follow the fate of Venice, a beautiful city which used to have about 160,000 residents, and now has only about 60,000 — most of the buildings are occupied by tourists, about 55,000 a day.
Byron’s fame, like Venice’s, will keep it going a long time, but I predict tour groups before too long.
Charles McFarland, Ewingsdale