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Byron Shire
October 20, 2021

Brunswick’s iconic fish co-op closes today

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The boat harbour at Brunswick Heads. (picture www.brunswickheads.org.au
The boat harbour at Brunswick Heads. (picture www.brunswickheads.org.au

The old fish co-op in Brunswick Heads, now known as Brunswick Heads Seafood is closing today.

Staff were informed on Friday that the shop would be closing and that they would have two weeks notice in lieu.

Speaking with The Echo, owner William Silverman said that it is:

With a heavy heart Brunswick Heads Seafood have to give up a struggle with NSW Dept Crown Lands and close down the business at Brunswick Heads old co-op for the time being. We are unable to sustain financial losses without some clear guidelines and encouragement from The Authorities in NSW Government.

We are very sad this means closing the old co-op, the loss of jobs and a local payroll of $60,000 per month severely affecting livelihood and ritual of Brunswick community. We have struggled to have our voice heard since our purchase of the old co-op sixteen months ago. 

  • Crown Lands preferred Masterplan makes no provision for a sustainable future of the commercial fisherman and the old Brunswick co-op
  • In fact it proscribes demolition of the existing jetty and timber walkway; a local treasure and integral part of the loading facilities of the fishery.
  • Crown Lands seem gung ho pushing a Master Plan not supported by local stakeholders.

 We wish to see a revival of a working seafood and recreational port at Brunswick Heads to contribute and regenerate simple pleasures of Brunswick Heads.’

Plans by the Crown Lands to develop the Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour were put on display in April 2016 with community concerns being raised over the ‘large amount of parkland that could be turned into parking.. Options in the report include 68 boat trailer parking spaces and 160 car parking spaces, effectively turning most of the open space into carpark.’ See here. 

The Brunswick Heads Progress Association president John Dunn highlighted the need for upgrades to the facilities at that time but also emphasised the importance ‘that any changes do not detract from the low-key charm that defines Bruns and makes it so appealing to both residents and visitors.’ 

Silverman said that they needed the support of the Deparment of Primary Industries (DPI) to revive the simple pleasures of Brunswick ‘as a working port and for community recreation. 

‘The DPI doesn’t value regional employment and commercial facilities for local produce. It’s Masterplan is all about boating not jobs and community. 

Unfortunately we’re having to close today. Very disappointing for everyone and sad day for people for whom The Bruns Old Co-Op had provided so much family pleasure.’


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37 COMMENTS

  1. This is a community disaster! Our environment is being destroyed again by a greedy plan to expand caravan and parking to increase income, not to improve our community facilities.. For as long as we can remember, we have all enjoyed our evenings sitting out with the local “Bruns” fish and chips in that pleasant ‘boat’ environment, now to be lost because of inadequate government consideration! And to top it all off, they intend to destroy a well planned substantially new walkway built with our money! PLEASE! Think again!
    Victor Cusack. Ocean shores.

  2. All the natural charm that many people seek from these type facilities are being lost to development greed by a few who care not about the area and its benefit to so many!

  3. That is awful!
    As someone brought up in Mullumbimby, spent holidays at Brunswick as kid, now living in Coolangatta & now in my 8th decade, where are we going now to have fish& chips on Good Friday I ask you?
    I don’t know how many times we have had fish&chips at the Co-op over the years. Its always a good outing.

  4. Stunned by the suddenness of this closure. Change has been in the wind for many years but, two weeks paid notice ? For employees who have worked there for many years, ten and more, this is a blow and and an insult. They must be paid for long service, unused holidays and sick leave and receive a pro- rata payment for years served. As it is their entitlement.
    I have been eating fish and chips there and enjoying the marina for 40 years. Sad to see it go. My last meal there was yesterday.

  5. So sad that this local business cannot continue due to lack of commitment by the relevant local authorities. I love this place and go there often for excellent fish and chips. I always take my visitors there and they all love the atmosphere (and the food), in keeping with the whole Bruns feeling. The history of the boat harbor and the connection to the sea is palpable. Try and recreate that with parked cars!

  6. One of the very reasons we moved to this area some years ago was because of the fish co-op and all its surrounding industry, the jetty, the beauty of the natural area. etc. As a family….we go there most Sundays for a lazy walk and a good freshly caught meal in this lovely, charming place. There is nothing else like it in the shire.

    Not only am I sad but I am angry that governments are so very short sighted. Why do they not see the importance of keeping this little industry. Why do they not see the joy that locals and tourists alike have is finding this little treasure?. Why cant’t they find it possible to support this small but well established icon of the Brunswick area?. Why do they not think in the same way as us….the community?

    Please tell me…..what is your motive. How about some reason, a little common sense, some understanding of the surrounding community and the fishing industry which has been dear to our hearts for so long.
    I am disgusted and very saddened to read this article…..yet another story of government folly.

  7. We are visitors from Victoria and spend time in your area most years and a highlight of our holiday is to have fish and chips in Brunswick Heads we love the old fashioned and quiet atmosphere where we are able to eat our great meal

  8. The new owners, also owners of the Ocean Shores Village Shopping Centre, although lamenting its loss, [should have been] aware of the long term expansion plans prior to purchase and also of the future 26 holiday units and retail food outlets proposed for the area. The goal being the prospective return on their investment.
    Let us hope with the public outcry … they can create an architecturally designed masterpiece instead of something cheap and tacky to cut costs.

  9. One small step away from the old, real Northern Rivers culture and traditions, one step closer to a genuine Gold Coast environment. Look forward to bitumen, concrete, signs and fines, acres of parked cars, little shops selling junk, all for tourists here today and gone tomorrow. Some call it progress. Some call it short-sighted stupidity.

  10. So very sad to hear this. We have enjoyed many outings to this iconic place. It’s a very sad loss for Brunswick Heads and will impact on many of the other businesses there. We often had Gelato afterwards and on more than one occasion purchased other goods at some of the lovely little shops in the town.

  11. Such a shame. The pub still has good food, but apart from that, now all that Brunswick will have food-wise is pretentious little hipster cafes

  12. Whistle Investment bought 3,500sqm of freehold land when they bought the Co-Op. Surely, they didn’t factor into their development vision $m’s of public land been given over to them for car parking under the notion of a joint private/public venture? If so, to argue that closure is the ‘fault’ of Crown Lands would be a very poor reflection on their business acumen.

    Perhaps the business model has been grounded in too much financial leverage thus bringing about the closure of the Co-op. The time between purchase of the Co-op and closure may well correspond to the time for mortgages to be re-negotiated? Just a thought! The ugly side is that investors play with householder incomes and in this case, these people who bear the immediate brunt, have a face to face identity in the local community. A pity we can’t demand to see the financial records to really determine what is going on with Whistle.

    • Patricia, I would say that you are, ‘on the money’ with this. This is a business ploy for sure and trying, once again, to use the emotional response of the general public for their own ends.

  13. What a F******ing joke. Crown Lands decision makers should all get photographed & named publicly and put in a special register world wide & interpol as the biggest tools, sidchrome could buy, apart from donald trump, what a way to hurt a community hope they all fall down the potholes in the area, so even westpac chopper could’nt find them & disappear for good , looks like pizza & chinese takeaway for long time

  14. I have so many lovely memories od fishing off the pier with the children.
    Finishing off with hot chips.
    How very sad.

  15. Save your pennies people cause they are already making arrangements for a fine dining restraunt to be put in most likely to be open by Christmas

  16. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!! My favourite place in the whole world sitting watching the boats, pelicans and seagulls. Can you feel the serenity. Oh yes!

  17. Are they for real? Surely the community’s wishes count for something in a place like this. There must be some room for compromise whereby all stakeholders are taken into account. Let the community have its say and upgrade the current facility while improving the boat and trailer parking etc. there must be a way. Brunswick Heads does not require radical surgery, it needs local solutions to local issues. It’s pretty much ideal as is!

  18. I agree with Patricia’s points above. I also think there is something ‘fishy’ about this sad situation. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are hiding behind or using ‘its Crown Land fault’ argument. They might even have the $ to kickstart their redevelopment.

  19. well, well, well, within this tragedy resides another ‘development’ story’? Personal lives affected by loss of employment and an Iconic Tourist industry lost to cement consumerism.

  20. Steve snow and fins or a fins style restaurant are going in I heard 2 years ago…..fish and chips may still be available but more upmarket.

  21. Devastating …. I’m so saddened and shocked by the loss of my favourite place to go for delicious affordable meals in a beautiful place. As a local who went often with my family and always took visitors there I am now very sad and depressed that this beloved community resource is being destroyed by greedy govt. decision about our area which is detrimental to our way of life. The Fish Co-op was our sublime simple pleasure and we all want it back!

  22. What exactly is going on I wonder. Who wants more money ? Why is it closing? Bit of a fishy smell . Article says nothing except to mobilize community support.

  23. Another example of governments not listening to the will of the people who elect them. With any brains (oxymoron?), they should be beware of the next elections. Voters have long memories when icons are threatened.

    A pox on their houses.

  24. Sounds “fishy” to me as well. I heard they were closing it and opening a new fancy restaurant. Didn’t see any mention of that in their statement. This was where I went to buy my fresh fish for dinner at home and I loved the setting and seeing the families eating fish and chips with the seagulls, the river, the fishing boats,the sunset. It was something everyone could enjoy and afford. This could signal the beginning of the end of our beautiful bruns. Taken over by money hungry developers AGAIN!!!

  25. This is the sadest news for Brunswick, I can imagine. Where else on the coast now can you go to have real fish and chips in a”nostalgic, natural environment”. Walking the board walk looking at the yatchs is one of my husband’s and my greatest pleasures. Does the local council even begin to realise what they are throwing away. Brunswick heads will not have the same attraction .

  26. I am so sad to hear this and agree with everything said by the owners about the MasterPlan. The co op has certainly been an important part of our family ritual this last decade and even last Saturday night – a cold and rainy winter’s night – we had a lovely evening there. Placing our order, strolling along the walkway and admiring the boats, and then coming back to enjoy our fish and chips in the covered seating area. Importantly, our son has autism, and it’s places like this that are so easy and welcoming for us enjoy time in a peaceful, low key and sociable environment. I am so sad about this on all levels for Brunswick and Mullumbimby, where we live.

  27. Crazy, the Bruns Fish Co-op and wharf are a part of what make Brunswick great, not flashy new development, that is why so many folk up here left the cities. It’s why city folk visit places like Brunswick, they / we want something different.

    So very disappointing that this should be allowed. This is certainly not progress.

    All the best to the staff, who now have to find new jobs.

  28. Sooo sad to see it shut today. We drive down from the gc hinterland just for the Brunswick experience, sadly today that just got less.

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