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Byron Shire
December 1, 2023

Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Goodbye Bangalow

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no-stopping-bangalowAfter another RTA marathon roadworks session the highway is open. Although something very peculiar has happened. Bangalow has gone missing. It was there last Thursday. I swear it. But Sunday when I was driving the kids to drop them at their dad’s place, it was gone completely. Vanished. Like Bangalow had never ever been there. Like there had never been a people who employed urchins wearing brown paper to sell $30 soap wrapped in string to seekers of shabby chic.

Fabulous, stylish, confident, middle-class and middle-aged, Bangalow is gone. Removed not by a cyclone, a bushfire or an act of god, but by an act of the RTA. You see, driving south there is no exit for Bangalow. Someone in head office decided there was no need for people travelling south to go to Bangalow. They also decided it was unnecessary to erect any signage along the highway to explain the sudden disappearance of what was, until a few days ago, a bustling vital village.

Poor Bangalow. Did they know? Did they know that they’d been exiled from the rest of us? That someone up top had taken an eraser and gently rubbed the draftsmen’s pencil so that the connection to our historic village was no more. What will happen to the people of Bangalow now the southbound exit is extinct? Will they have to breed among themselves? Who will buy their fabulous rugs and designer sandals? Will they have enough baristas to go around? It will be like in the bubonic plague when they exiled villages. No-one in. No-one out. Eventually it ended up in some sort of weird medieval witch-burning incestuous killing spree.

Poor Bangalow. They weren’t expecting it. They didn’t even get enough warning to build their pool. Or a supermarket. I worry how an entire village will survive on just one weekly farmers market. What if they run out of white linen or shabby chic or rusted doors tied up with rope?

Now that the petrol tankers can’t get in it looks like it’s going to be billycart derby day every day. It’s how the Bangalese will get to the bowlo. Of course, they’ll have to drag their sorry arses, and their carts, back home up the hill drunk. Watching the traffic speed past high above them. A constant reminder of an RTA oversight.

Dear Bangalow, the forgotten people. The people the highway cut loose. As for Newrybar, it’s gone too. Such a wonderful roadside village. Now just a bunch of lonely hipsters hugging their artisanal breads and fermented cheese for warmth.

I am still in shock about the whole thing. I have to admit I was so looking forward to the removal of that nasty bitch St Helena and her penchant for sending me speeding tickets. Stupidly I thought that those twin tunnels would take me to Banga in just minutes. This whole thing has been very distressing for our family. You can’t imagine the torment of a mother trying to explain to her kids that they won’t be going to Dad’s place any more.

I didn’t know how to break it to them, but as I zoomed south towards Sydney I managed a stifled ‘Kids, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Dad’s gone. We’ll have to find you a new dad in Ballina. At least there’s an exit there.’

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  1. Bangaloids did this. Bangaloids lobbied for no southbound off ramps.
    Too many trucks to Lismore they said. I find that very unlikely.
    It’s all there in historical pdfs on RTA (aka RMS) www.

  2. The same old road you could always take to Bangalow is still there, it just has a snazzy new name ‘The Hinterland Way’. You even get a choice now of which end you enter from.
    Bangalow certainly isn’t turning into a ghost town anytime soon, it took me a full 15 minutes to get through from the video store to the bowlo because of the constant stream of dopey tourists crossing the zebra, traffic was backed halfway to Rifle Range Rd.

  3. You’re correct, Mandy, in that there is no specific turnoff to Bangalow.
    This means any traffic – trucks and ‘light’ B doubles, included – that need to go via Bangalow have to take the turnoff to Byron and then navigate the Ewingsdale roundabout and cross the freeway to the ‘Hinterland Way’!!
    As if there is not enough congestion on the Byron road!! The Ewingsdale roundabout will become a major blockage point and I can see traffic waiting to navigate it backing back up onto the freeway. The design seems to ignore the need for some trucks to use the Bangalow road – at least it may discourage heavy trucks travelling further inland and send them via the Alstonville bypass. Maybe not since that requires navigation of another roundabout at Ballina.
    Last Sunday, the traffic to Byron coming from the north was banked back nearly to Tyagarah travelling at walking speed. The person responsible for this mess should have been made to stand and apologise to each vehicle as it crawled past him (her?) There was time for a conversation with each car.
    Fix one problem – create another

  4. As I recall it went like this.

    The original plans had no Bangalow exits. Former Mayor Michael Molloy who was of course the architect of the Bangalow rennaisance agreed with this approach. He said that Bangalow was strong enough as a destination and didn’t want to have the extra traffic.

    A couple of years later RMS then revised plans and proposed a Bangalow exit. The residents were against this and a meeting was held where Don Page asked for a show of hands of the many atendees. They were unanimous in their rejection of an exit for traffic and noise reasons.

    The RMS then convened a “working group” to discuss the issue. With support from the business people of Bangalow the residents objections were reversed and a pair of Soutbound ramps were agreed upon.

    I think that was important for the RMS who wanted a way to divert any traffic if the Northbound Tunnel was closed

    I dont think Northbound ramps were every a possibility because of the huge cost

    I think that’s the history but feel free to correct me

    Tony Gilding Macadamia Castle

  5. Bangalow isn’t missing, it’s just been misplaced, surely. I was taking some visitors from Mullumbimby to Bangalow last week and used “the tunnel.” Chatting away about how much difference the new road will make we’d almost made Ballina when the car fell silent. We’d been talking so much that I must have been distracted and missed the exit.
    It’s inconceivable that not only the RTA but everyone who has looked at the plans and maps has not noticed there is no southbound off-ramp to Bangalow. How could such a disaster happen?
    Maybe the Bangalites are smarter than we think and are happy for a few less visitors and a bit of peace and quiet.

  6. Poor Bangalow. I’m fortunate to own a copy of “The Roundabout at Bangalow” and now that the place has been liquid papered to oblivion, it will obviously be worth millions now. When Sothebys send me a cheque, I shall hire the ‘dopey tourists’ to hack a new exit through the bushland. Bangalow will again be the shabby chic capital of the world and I shall never go hungry again!

  7. Some people won’t be happy until they can reach their destination before they leave home! I prefer Bangalow after they built the “Old” Highway and trucks no longer grind through the main street. We are constantly told that “Speed Kills” yet we will soon be able to hurtle along the “New”Highway in excess of 110kph with B-Doubles overtaking at 120kph. Keep these monsters off the road to Lismore where are young are driving to Uni and the elderly are driving to Base Hospital. RMS must urgently fix up their signage, particularly for those driving North. The dim-witted signs for “Newr…….” and “Maca ……. Castle are a disgrace. Perhaps Mandy should drop her kids off at Omdino Pizza who will deliver them to Dad by drone?

  8. The RTA designed a bypass of Bangalow in 2010 as part of T2E to take through traffic to Lismore around the Village. They said is was too costly and not needed! The community needs to have its say again and not sit on the fence and watch the traffic through the town grow .

  9. And now that there’s only one way to get back on the main highway from around Byron area – the traffic just getting into and thru town from south (Pass, Suffolk etc) is ridiculous! We found it quicker and easier (and now with all the paid parking) much cheaper to walk into town.

  10. I find this whole issue hilarious! There has been countless ongoing conversations with Bangalow community and RMS for years about the signage at the Ewingsdale interchange. Basically Bangalow residents didn’t want the big trucks using that exit to go via Bangalow to Lismore. Fair enough. However from my experience heading South towards Ewingsdale interchange a few days after the changes I clearly saw 3 signs that said Byron Bangalow exit. As one reader above acknowledged he wasn’t paying attention. And I believe that had been the main issue for most drivers. Not paying attention to the obvious impending changes. People generally don’t like change and need to have a little tantrum for a while until their brain finally accepts it. ?

  11. Stuff Bangalow, what about Lismore?! We don’t even warrant an Australian standard green RMS sign anymore? Relegated to an easy to miss non-standard yellow sign southbound! The artisanal cheese pedlars will pay for this!


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