Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox : Alice in Byronland – Down the pothole


Right now in Byron Shire there are more potholes than actual road surface. There are people from Main Arm who haven’t been sighted for weeks, suspicion being that, like Alice from Wonderland, they’ve fallen into one and disappeared completely. Some have gone right through and come out the other side in Nimbin (that’s why they call it a ‘pot’ hole); all you have to do is chew on a mushie and you’re home again.

I can hear you all complaining. Saying ‘fucking council’. But perhaps it’s not neglect, misuse of funds, lack of care. Perhaps it’s not the absence of forward planning or a cruel irony that we must drive on the country’s worst roads to the country’s most expensive real estate. Perhaps it’s Byron Shire Council stepping into the future with a form of public transport no other region has.

These aren’t just potholes. These are portals so we can travel between villages. Time Zones. Reality states. There are potholes here that can take you back to the 60s!

In the future we won’t have roads at all. Just giant potholes. It’s Tele-potholeation. They are the dark matter of the roadway. The black holes of the bitumen. You don’t even have to install them. They’re self-forming. Unfortunately they’re not currently operational and aren’t offering quick trips to the markets or the beach; they are just tearing up tyres, destroying wheel rims and making a simple trip to the shops more dangerous than being smeared in mullet and going deep sea diving with sharks.

Every km on our local roads is like an episode of World’s Worst Drivers, except we’re not swerving because we’re drunk, we’re trying to miss potholes. Every 20 seconds a Byron Shire driver is faced with a conundrum – do I hit the oncoming vehicle, the pedestrian or the pothole? At 60km an hour I’ve been chancing the oncoming vehicle. It generally doesn’t do as much damage as a pothole.

After replacing the fifth tyre in just two days I found myself becoming angry. I thought of mounting a campaign that encouraged motorists to dump destroyed tyres in the council chamber. Then I realised that this wasn’t possible. It would be full to the top in a week. The conspiracy theorist in me wondered whether there wasn’t some collusion between Council and Tyrepower. Right now those of us with vehicles are feeling pretty tyre powerless. (Isn’t the first step on the road to recovery, surrendering to your Tyrepower?)

It’s weird. Potholes are empty but they sure bring stuff up. It’s been making me and most of the Shire really, really angry. So I thought reframing was in order. Potholes help us let go. Perhaps Council could send that out as a bumper sticker with our next rates bill to remind us of the hideously low infrastructure bang for our buck around here. I’ve let go of thousands of dollars over the years in tyres and wheel rims.

On the upside, you are never at risk of falling asleep on a north coast road. The slam of the pothole wakes you up every time. We now have so many potholes they form clusters, like malignant road cancer. I’ve been watching the council fill them up (eventually), and then the rain comes, and it washes out and the pot hole is ALWAYS bigger. Like the magic pudding of potholes. The more you fill it the bigger it gets. There’s alchemy out on them roads.

The council poultice-the-pothole approach doesn’t work. They might as well be filling it with potatoes. Or turmeric. Perhaps an anti-inflammatory might help. It’s the classic Einstein definition of insanity: repeating the same behaviour and expecting different results. It’s never worked. Not even once. But they keep pushing on with the ‘fill it with bitumen’ strategy like one day a miracle will occur and the pothole will close.

I love their blind optimism. Especially when they decide to do it at peak hour on the way to Byron. I mean, if you are going to poultice your pothole, that’s the time to do it!

I don’t know if the council has noticed, but every day the potholes are getting worse. Potholes are a degenerative illness. They don’t clear up on a gluten-free diet. So clearly the council aren’t going to deal with it. So it’s up to the community to come up with their own road-repair strategy.

I suggest we try some road reiki and a little Louise L Hay. According to Louise, ‘cancer’ is formed by niggly annoyances. Kind of like potholes. Also deep grief, secret hurt. Our roadways are in pain. They are holding our fear, people! We need to help them release. Our potholes must learn to lovingly forgive themselves and release the past. So instead of filling these gaping holes with tar and bitumen, let us use the only fill that ever works. Love and joy. Let’s choose to fill our potholes with love.

7 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox : Alice in Byronland – Down the pothole”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    This is a true story.

  2. Lana Henry says:

    Funny as always Mandy but also sadly SO TRUE. Byron Shire has lost it’s magic in sooo many ways, which is why, after 43 years living there…I have left it for good.

  3. Tara Blackman says:

    Mandy is beyond brilliant , and gives a joyous luster to all womankind. I really hope, Every stunning article is
    archived! As you have a best seller on your hands, once compiled into a fun backed screaming with laughter best seller !
    Just found this !!! Can’t wait to treat myself to a river of giggles and non stop laughter …
    Thank you Mandy , you really are the best !

  4. Nityabodhananda Saraswati says:

    Mandy Hi,thanks this was a great laugh, perfect satire, once again thanks

  5. Tooley says:

    Lay off the drugs Mandy

  6. Kerry Laurenson says:

    Classic Mandy. You are soo on it! … again ?
    Thanks Kerry

  7. Alice D says:

    I fell down a pothole and landed in Melbourne, I never looked back! I don’t miss the terrible roads in Byron. Hilarious article!

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Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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