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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Aquaman filming over but Hastings Point residents still angry

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The residents of the normally sleepy Tweed coastal town of Hastings Point are up in arms about their headland being taken over for the filming of a major Hollywood movie.

And even though Warner Bros have finished filming the scenes for their upcoming Aquaman movie, the headland remains closed to the public while the company undertakes ‘remediation’ work.

The site is managed by the Tweed Reserves Trust, which in turn is operated by Tweed Shire Council.

The council approved the filming on a 6-1 vote in June (Mayor Katie Milne being the sole opponent) in return for an undisclosed sum of money.

In a media release issued at the time, the council said the trust would conduct a workshop ‘subsequent to the film’ with Screen NSW local residents, community groups, council staff, and interested councillors ‘to develop a protocol for the future management of filming in the locality.’

No consultation

But locals say there has been little-to-no consultation ahead of the occupation of the site by the multinational corporation and have accused the site manager of serious misrepresentation.

Progress Association public officer Jo Kennett told Echonetdaily, ‘We have had Warner Bros here filming Aquaman for 10 weeks with another five (to try to fix the environmental damage) to go, with our headland access blocked since July 5.’

‘We were informed by a large sign and then a flyer – the first anyone had heard of all this – that it would be closed from July 5 to August 16 but access has now been limited until October 15. That’s nearly 4 months with the headland closed and for the majority of that time there has been no work or filming happening,’ she said.

‘In reality they could have done the whole thing in three weeks (or in the studio or computer generated) so why our Tweed Council General Manager gave them four months, with councillors kept completely in the dark, is anyone’s guess.

Ms Kennett said there had been ‘significant environmental damage, no consultation with the community and some very questionable dealings from corporate services in Tweed Council.’

‘Our mayor, Katie Milne, has been treated so badly as she tried to protect what is a very environmentally sensitive area, included being targeted in a “Juliar Gillard” type campaign in the Murdoch press, which was just horrible.

Ms Kennett said residents and visitors alike ‘cannot believe this has been allowed to happen. Even the most pro business/development residents who thought it was all great are really angry now.’

Blocked beach access

She said Warner Bros had blocked access to the beach on several occasions, telling people they couldn’t go to surf, despite having no permission to do so.’

‘They kept saying they were nearly finished and then a week later another flyer would be posted saying they were blocking more areas for more filming.

‘The propaganda their location manager has put out there, continuously saying how much support he has when it is not true, has been appalling,’ ,’ she said

‘They built major constructions on the headland with no DA, as required by NSW law, nor do they seem to have the necessary Environmental Impact Statement.

She said that Warner Bros had initially wanted ‘to pull out (and throw away) our iconic pandanus tree at the top of the headland’ but added ‘councillors wouldn’t let them.’

‘Councillors were actually waiting for Warner Bros to come back with the community consultation so they could vote on it but they never did – they just steamrolled ahead with the support of a few in corporate services.’

Suspicious fire

Ms Kennett said, ‘there was a suspicious fire at 2am the night before they were to bring all their trucks and heavy machinery into a small beach access track (for more filming, which was sprung on us) and the next morning council agreed with the site manager that since the fire had already cleared the area they could widen the parking area.

‘They gravelled it and lined it with rocks. What was bush is now just part of a relatively big parking lot,’ Ms Kennett said.

So intense have local passions been that filmmaker Andi Green made her own film at the Point (above) in protest to the take-over of her local park by the multinational film franchise.

Marine biologist’s concerns

Ms Green also pointed us to concerns expressed by Ted Brambleby, a marine biologist and educator, and the founder and director of the Hastings Point North Star Museum of Marine Natural History.

Mr Brambleby wrote, ‘This headland provides anchorage to the most unique rocky shore ecosystem for its size on the east coast of Australia. Other than the biodiversity it sustains, this isolated little “Eden in time” is the central hub for five other unique and so far unspoiled connecting environments.

  • A shallow meandering sea grass and mangrove rich estuary.
  • A pristine wallum heathland ecotone extending from dunes and emerging into tea tree and climax eucalypt forest that still support an ecology lost to the Gold Coast years ago.
  • A complete and undeveloped succession of beach dunes.
  • A shallow eco-dynamic orb recruitment reef 300 metres offshore that has protected and sustained the headlands one off littoral and sub-littoral biodiversity for a time beyond memory.

‘This then is the critical reality and ecologically one only paradigm, that council in a spasm of profound wisdom, is unbelievably forfeiting by the precedence set in permitting its abuse from large scale site preproduction by film companies – not for the first but now for the second time in two years,’ he said.

‘In the last month this timeless yet vulnerable icon has again, by its own caretaker, been permitted to morph into something more resembling a full scale industrial construction site than a nature reserve,’ Mr Brambleby wrote.

Echonetdaily is awaiting response from Tweed Shire Council and Mayor Katie Milne.


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11 COMMENTS

  1. A noisy, selfish minority may be up in arms, but the quiet majority are happy to put up with a minor inconvenience (such as walking instead of driving to the end of the headland) and share this little slice of paradise with the rest of the world. The film company have paid generously for the use of the headland, provided jobs for locals and are fulfilling their responsibility to “leave only footprints” as near as possible. This is an unbalanced piece of reporting.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more Cabacoop, totally unbalanced piece of rubbish bias reporting. What is it with the vocal minority, they are famous for exagerating to the max anything they don’t agree with the aim of gaining support and at the same time try to divide the people and create a big bad wolf by referring to Warner Bros as a ‘multinational corporation’…. it’s Warner Bros, they do movies, the vote was 6 to 1, that’s an overwhelming majority… whinges, go over it and move on.

      • umm Spud, check out this
        it is taken from Warner Bros site https://www.warnerbros.com/studio/divisions/warner-bros-pictures

        …2016 marked the 10th consecutive year Warner Bros. Pictures crossed the $3 billion mark at the global box office with $4.93 billion in worldwide receipts ($1.90 billion domestic, $3.03 billion international). The year was also 16th consecutive frame that both the domestic and international divisions crossed the billion-dollar mark—a milestone no other studio has achieved…

        AND

        Warner Bros. is also a division of Time Warner which wikipedia note ….Time Warner, Inc. is an American multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered in New York City. It is currently the world’s third largest entertainment company in terms of revenue, after Comcast and The Walt Disney Company. It was also once the world’s largest media conglomerate.

        Yes Spud, they do, do movies but in a very big way, and that is why they have so relentlessly tried to silence any opposition and present an image of support trying to make out that everybody wants Aquaman here at Hastings Point … it is because they have so much money riding on it.
        Haven’t you seen their silly signs….check them out here on youtube https://youtu.be/NExsu-9Df_c

    • Cabacoop and friend, I guess the locals have been noisy because they weren’t consulted by Warner Bros in the first instance. It hasn’t helped that Warner Bros. tried to using their public relations voice during the last three months as a vehicle to try and stop concerns being voiced and then respectfully heard.
      What if you can’t walk up the headland, it isn’t a minor inconvenience for some. For example my elderly cousin couldn’t get up there without his car, so he still has to wait until the road up to the headland is opened.
      Actually, on every day of every year we share the headland and surrounds with the rest of the world. Campers from all over the country and globe come here. Some even have a free sleep and wake up to the lovely sunrise. At weekends it seems like we share it with half of southeast Queensland looking for a nice break from the big city.
      Did Warner Bros. really pay generously for the use of the headland? I don’t know, but I would be interested to know how you know? Do you have some inside information on it, because it looks like nobody else does.
      I read in the news (ABC) that the Federal Government has given a reported 22 million of our tax monies to subsidize this Aquaman film. I feel it would have been better if the federal government had given some of this large sum of money to our council so they could have instead created some genuine long term jobs and employed some of our young people.

  2. Multinational company damaging sensitive environment at Hastings Point ???
    They must have run out of extinct creatures to portray as being threatened by these harsh multination’s .

    • Hey Neville, its cool to care about creatures and the environment we share with them. It is even cooler to stand up for their welfare as they are only little guys and can’t do it for themselves. This is a youtube link showing some of what they had to put up with for the last three months
      https://youtu.be/NExsu-9Df_c Things like noise, being squashed, being completely covered, and walked all over (and the human locals can related to that one too)!

  3. I think the point here is that the residents local or not aren’t being included in any type of consultation when commercial interests decide to impose themselves on local communities., Councils are supposed to represent local ratepayers and residents not be yes men to big corporates or greedy develop.

    Seems the inmates are running the asylum

  4. DA approvals and Environmental impact statements is necessary on any small or large scale construction. Why is a corporate brand excluded from these processes you have to ask why! There is so much at stake at Hastings point or any Ephemera grass headlands that was used in the passed by wallaby’s to predate on and should be a natural Australian icon as it is an Endangered ecological commmunity! The lighthouse was thrown straight on this grass even through it is warn out from erosion it is still there! As a local lifeguard at Hastings I’ve seen alot that has been thrown at Hastings the last few years it is in dier need of rehabilitation from anthropogenic activtivity.
    Impacts of the floods with silt and acid sulfate soil run off from cattle farms out back of Mooball and burst sewage pipe from Christies creek up streamhas lead to massive kill of many fish Mullet, flat head, turtles. Ted has been there for years and his business will keep chugging along regardless although what are we to teach our kids that letting corporations impact the area we live is ok for a bit of non sense money! I know it puts Hastings on the map and gives council extra funds for roads and such but what does it teach people to do turn a blind eye!
    Cabacoops and Neville Thomson I dare ask if you were in favour of the Caravon site that was proposed by the NSW land property management authority and caravan trust! Have you walked into the beauftiful dune care sights that are turning into Littoral rainforest eventually what legacy do you want to send to the next generation? Corporate greed or a better future for the already crumbling environment with record breaking extinction rates around the world!

  5. Reminder: the elected representatives voted on this. It was not a ‘private deal’ by the GM. They are elected to represent the people. If you don’t like their decisions, take it up with them instead of bagging the administrative body.

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