Byron Bay’s berko parking meters causing angst


Byron Bay’s new parking meters are allowing people to pay to park longer than local signage allows, resulting in fully paid-up parkers being fined. Photo contributed

Chris Dobney

Byron Bay’s controversial parking meters are allowing people pay for more than the maximum time limit, resulting in people who think they have parked legally later discovering they’ve copped a hefty fine.

Byron Greens councillor Duncan Dey has recently received a complaint from a tourist family from New Caledonia who had a very expensive lunch in the Bay: it cost them $212 on top of their meal.

One member of the family told Cr Dey, they parked two cars on Jonson Street, not far from Margarita restaurant where they were having lunch.

The area is signposted as a one-hour zone.

The family say they didn’t see the sign but had no problems feeding the meter for two hours and printing the ticket, which they left inside each of their cars.

In a letter to Cr Dey the man said that he and his son were ‘both fined during our lunch ($106 penalty for each car)’.

He added that the parking warden, who was still in the street, ‘explained to us that we had to move our cars every hour, even with a ticket.’

‘I am very surprised no warning was displayed on the meter when I paid for more than one hour,’ he said.

‘On the Gold coast, the meters [don’t work] any more if you go further than the limited time and you can’t print your ticket.’

The man said his family have visited Byron very often since 1990.

‘We love this place – last Sunday, we spent more than $1,000 on shopping and restaurants in your city.

‘It’s the first time that we have had such a bad experience,’ the man wrote.

Cr Dey said he had asked for the registration numbers of the two cars so that he could follow up the issue further with council staff.

‘I’m concerned that you were able to pay for more than one hour in a one-hour parking zone,’ he told the man.

He added that printing of tickets in Byron Bay was optional.

Byron Shire Council has been approached for comment.

16 responses to “Byron Bay’s berko parking meters causing angst”

  1. Robin Anscomb says:

    Surely any application of the parking laws would be ‘void for uncertainty’ in the situation described here?

  2. Margot. says:

    This has happened to me several times…I,have been give 540 minutes in a two hour zone. I have an exemption sticker and have never needed this much time but there is nothing to advise what the legal situation is,given that the machine has allowed you this much time. It is certainly not to clear to visitors ( or to many locals)that they have to move their cars rather than just load the machine with more money.
    Sometimes the machines don’t work.I found $9 in the change tray in a machine outside Aldi.The result of someone’s frustrated attempts to load a non functional meter.
    I find the new system very tiresome and frustrating- even without having to pay.I usually go into town to run specific errands that require me to move from one end of town to,the other….drop of DVD( 5 mins) punch into meter,go to visit friend in hospital ( half hour)punch into meter,go to fish shop (10 mins) punch into meter.Sometimes I have to,do,this up,to 5 times per trip especially if I am trying to get in and out of town quickly for some reason.
    I have been unwell and don’t want to walk with my shopping from one end of town to the other to attend to short errands on either a very hot day or,as happened the other day,outside The Northern,to be completely drenched by a downpour trying to enter my details into a slow uncooperative meter. SometimesI I have little time to spare between appointments and can’t afford either the time or energy to trek across town with my loads. It is a colossal drag and I avoid town now unless I know I am going to be just going to one destination for an extended period of time.It has certainly changed my relationship and attitude to visiting Byron and I am not alone judging by the many conversations I have with other locals waiting in line while some bewildered visitor counts their,change and tries to complete a successful transaction with a meter. Bring back exemption stickers for locals so we can park,shop and dine stress free again! The new system is a real pain.

  3. Jon says:

    Personally I won’t be unhappy to see a tourist backlash against Byron for their outrageous paid parking innovation. The place is over-crowded, even with the downturn since the shark attacks, and if people choose to spend their tourist dollars elsewhere, it’ll still be to the town’s benefit.

  4. John Smith says:

    The tourist is mistaken. They are parking meters, it is not rocket science. If the signs says 1 hour, you can only park 1 hour.

  5. Pete says:


    A. Faulty parking meters have been unwittingly purchased
    B. The parking meters have been set this way to catch unwary punters and raise revenue
    C. This type or parking meter was deliberately purchased in order to catch unwary punters and raise revenue

    Which is it?

  6. Simon says:

    I remember when a journalist would fact check before writing an article. All it would have taken is this journalist going to the specified meter and putting some money in. They clearly state max $3 and once you put $3 in, the meter displays maximum amount reached.

    As John says above, its not rocket science.

    • Chris Dobney says:

      This journalist has in fact used the Byron Bay parking meters many times and they can be confusing to people who have English as a first language, let alone foreign-language speaking visitors. The meters, for example, don’t warn you that if you are purchasing a ticket for a different zone (which may be as nearby as directly across the road) you still may not park for longer than the time indicated at your vehicle.

      • Simon says:

        In that case you should have written an article about the confusing zoning which is completely different to the article you did write which is completely wrong. How do I know? I checked. You should try it. The most likely scenario is the motorist is lying to try to get out of paying their fine.

        Now, if you were to write an article about the ridiculousness of the situation where locals must input their plate every time they move their car to a new location then you might be on to something.

  7. malcolm mackenzie says:

    Stop your bloody whinging ,the council has done you all a favour by pissing off the tourists and locals .so now there will be more parking space coming up in the near future and less crowds and maybe prices may drop a little as well to reflect the real world !!

  8. Pete says:

    Most locals don’t care because they have stopped visiting Bay due to the introduction of paid parking and they will not be coming back.

    It is disingenuous to suggest that visitor numbers are down because of shark attacks. The town was busy immediately before paid parking was introduced and has been empty ever since.

    It is also disingenuous to suggest that tourists (or the journalist that wrote this article) are at fault/dumb. I have never seen a parking meter that operates like the model in Byron. Visit any city or town and you will find that parking meters stop accepting money when the allotted time frame is reached.

    So once again, either

    A. Faulty parking meters have been unwittingly purchased
    B. The parking meters have been set this way to catch unwary punters and raise revenue
    C. This type or parking meter was deliberately purchased in order to catch unwary punters and raise revenue

    Which is it?

  9. Blake says:

    Attacking journalists that dare to report on the introduction of paid parking is fast becoming a signature of the comments section.

    It is part of an odd pattern in which the supporters paid parking sound very angry.

  10. Dave Moss says:

    I have seen old folk struggle with reading the faint text on the screen which is low down and hard to read in even bright sunlight. I feel that some may be making errors given the poor interface of these machines. I am appalled at the rigid responses from State Debt Recovery to those well-meaning visitors who inadvertently get it wrong.

    Come on, with so many people having the same experience, surely the Council can be a little flexible when there is legitimate confusion.

    I actually couldn’t think of a worse system and I have used many.

  11. Ben Ormonde says:

    The parking meters are deliberately designed to be complex, confusing and to cash in on human forgetfulness or inattention to detail. The system is especially difficult and confusing for the elderly and disabled. The screens are near impossible to read in bright sunlight. People also don’t realise that they have to validate the number plate waiting for communication to happen between meter and database computer.
    The design of the registration system is so deliberately designed to entrap people that it borders on racketeering.

  12. Peter says:

    Paid parking really has made Byron Bay feel like an uptight place. Some of the above comments suggest that its cheer leaders have not noticed because they were uptight to begin with

  13. Darran says:

    I went to Byron today as it is my 50th birthday. I chose to go to Byron because I always had fond memories of a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. I was amazed to see that so much money has been put into parking meters everywhere. One of our first stops was to go to the lighthouse to take a breath and enjoy the view. I was disappointed to see we would have to pay $8.00 just to park. So we didn’t. We drove up and out. There is no justification for charging that amount for parking, we only wanted to stop for 5 minutes. We came down to the beach to stop and go for a walk, and I found it confusing. I worked in the enforcement and installation and service industry for parking meters. They are confusing and not assistive. I wish you good luck, because as suggested by one post we are going to do you a favour. We won’t be coming back. One because it has become expensive, and two because Byron has lost it’s appeal and welcoming. We’ll spend our money elsewhere in future.

  14. paul durham says:

    The Council is appallingly negligent,lackadasical, and contemptuous to visitors. The f—— meters don’t work properly. I arrived in the “laid back paradise”, ran into a ghastly traffic jam, walked past some slightly organic drunks squatting in a doorway, and made my drive to the beach in the shimmering hazy hot afternoon.

    The meter would not accept my card and I had no change. I assumed it was faulty and drove further up, tried again, repeatedly-no dice. the first bead of sweat hit the pavement. Angst as I had no change-did I dare leave my car or would the Byron Parking Gestapo hit me with a huge fine while I was so doing?

    Ran across the road to a surf shop-no mate can’t give you change-try next door. the kid in the Gelati shop gave me change. Did anyone else have meter problems? Oh yes-all the time. ran back to the meter-more sweat hit the pavement.

    Wonder why I bothered. Not that unique or beautiful. Dusty, complacent, arrogant, traffic snarled and parking meter Kafkaesque fiascoed-your jet setting, backpacker attracting bad attitude breeding ruined city hold not much attraction any more.

    Brunswick Heads is streets ahead

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