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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Dear tourist,

wategoes

You’re killing us.

You may not know me, but we know you. In fact we’ve known you now for well over 20 years. You’ve had an impact on our life. A lot. For better at times, but these days mostly for worse. When you are having the best two weeks of your year, I can guarantee that we are having our worst. You can tell who we are. Have a look around. See that person trying to get a park outside the post office, the one who had their indicator on but you crossed double lanes and nabbed the space? The one who has gone bright red and is giving you the finger and seems to be calling you unpleasant things? That person lives here. They were planning on sending a letter. Probably a cry for help. Strangely you barely know we exist. Yet we live here. We aren’t on holidays. We are trying to get on with our daily lives.

Most of us don’t really benefit that much from your being here. Only an elite few. I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that. There are people in Byron who live here, work here, shop here, send their kids to school here, who find your presence rather upsetting. It’s not that you’re not welcome. You are. In fact, we all know that we need you. Just not so many of you. Could you perhaps ring each other before you turn up and work out some sort of roster? Could you not bring so many cars? Some people are having highways diverted through their backyards and while it makes things better for you it has impacts on our local people’s quality of life. And the environment. What’s left of it. You may have seen the environment. It’s that thing along the coastline that you all want to see. Because you all come here with your cars now we can’t park in our villages and now we have to pay for parking. If one of our children has an accident and we have to rush them to hospital it can take three times as long to get there. On hot days we don’t go to the beach because we know that you will be there and it will be so crowded people will be fighting in the carpark. And on the waves. Our surfers know that hundreds of you will be paddling out on your brand-new boards on our favourite breaks, mowing down our children in the shallows. So they go somewhere else too. We call it The Pass for a reason. At the height of summer if someone asks if I want to go to the beach I say ‘Pass’. Wategos is Wategone.

We pay huge rates to service the infrastructure needed to keep you in Byron Bay. If you live in a country town in the Shire outside of Byron you’re lucky to see a cent spent on any public infrastructure in your area. You must think that your coming here means that we have lots of money to spend on public works. It’s actually a game of Monopoly. That money goes to the people who hold the best property and the rest of us idiots are left paying for public works. Our rates go to maintaining your holiday playground. We don’t get to use it much. And to top it off, there aren’t  enough of us to keep it to the standard that it should be. So we have to pay more. That makes us not like you very much. No-one has ever properly supported a bed tax that might have helped. You probably wouldn’t even mind paying $1 a day to stop our giving you the evil eye, but for some mysterious reason people in power would rather the most disempowered people pay. That’s how the tax system works I guess. The more money you have the more money you have to spend on avoiding spending money.

There’s barely a public toilet in the region any of us can use. Except those ugly metal ones that look like space garbage from an intergalactic prison. If you take longer than 10 minutes to do your business you will have an audience. Which is okay for me because I’m a comedian and I still love a good poo joke. With the number of you people here you’d think our public parks would be state of the art. They’re filthy. Overcrowded. And not somewhere you’d take your kid. Unless you didn’t mind their chewing on broken glass and ciggie butts. Anyway most of our parks are where our homeless have to live. Because see those houses you are staying in? Most of those were supposed to be our homes. And because you will pay so much to have a holiday in them our residential market is so competitive that more than 100 people might turn up for a rental inspection on a rundown three-bedroom suburban house being leased for $1k per week. We have people living in their cars. On couches. In tents. In the dunes. So, dear tourist, I don’t want to be rude, but we need a break. So would you mind going somewhere else this year?

Love

The Community.


11 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Dear tourist,”

  1. ken smith says:

    Dear Community,

    It is with great regret that I write to inform you that my booking for 2 & ½ weeks next year has been part-paid already.

    I’m sorry, but it has been a habit of mine for the last 30 years.

    In my defence: I promise not to bring my car; I will stay in a designated rental property; I will pick up my rubbish and anyone else’s as I leave the beach and will spend about $2K at The Rails and other fine dining venues with Stone & Wood on tap.

    In 1988, The Beach Hotel was a yellow-tile pub. There was plenty of space for my daughters to learn to surf. There were seldom than a hundred hippies visiting town, instead of a thousand back-packers and I don’t like how it gets so crowded now either, but it is a supply & demand thing…

    May I suggest that the $1 bed tax you proposed should be $10 and if that doesn’t dampen demand, then make it $20.

    I have so enjoyed every Soapbox since Mandy wrote that hilarious defence of Kate Moss’s drug charge that I still read the e-Echo when I’m away.

    So far, I’ve lived in Byron Bay for a year & ½ but can’t vote or stand for council, so how about you locals build that by-pass so I won’t get sunburnt waiting to cross Wingdale Road on market days and either stop stuffing about with the Bay’s coastline or change the name of that bit between The Pass and Anderson Headland to Bryon Cove.

    Love,

    Your Bloody Tourist.

  2. Mark van says:

    Seriously! Are you for real Mandy?
    It’s not the tourists who I see turn across the double white lines. It’s the locals
    It’s not the tourists who can’t park between the lines of the parking spaces. It’s the locals
    It’s not the tourists who don.t know how to indicate at roundabouts. t’s the locals
    It’s not the tourists who double park and then spruik their mantra
    “Hey man, don’t be so impatient” or”Hey man, I’ll just be a minute”
    when you ask them to move It’s the locals
    Go and sit at the stop sign at the end of Main Arm road and see how many LOCALS actually STOP
    Go and sit at the entrance to woolies and see how many people ignore the NO RIGHT TURN sign
    As for the rental market, I know plenty of LOCALS who have their cabins/ granny flats on Air BNB,
    Kicking out their LOCAL tenants when the tourist season starts.
    And as for the tourist dollar. just because you Don’t get any of it, then no one else should?
    Many locals rely on the tourist dollar to keep their businesses running and their local families supported.

    I am sick of Locals complaining about ‘People from Sydney’, “People from Queensland”, “People from the Gold Coast”, “People from Melbourne” Your generalization of those who are not from here, are from somewhere else, should go back to where they came from, makes you a……..bigot!! Racist?

    • Genevieve Barrg says:

      Yes. I agree. Do you notice how many times in any edition of the Echo, the term ‘local’ is endlessly rolled out? But now with Mandy Nolan’s piece, tedious parochialism has turned a nasty sharp corner into xenophobia.

  3. James says:

    Its sad that Mandy wants to close the town to visitors and we will lose the wonderful writers festival which she has supported.

  4. Caroline Cree says:

    Hear, Hear Mandy!!! Well said!!!

  5. Kym Kranen says:

    The Tweed is always happy to host you, we love the tourist $$$. Please come & spend some time in our beautiful towns & villages, we would love to see you 🙂

  6. Mary Grant says:

    Notice that since QLD went back to school – Tweed is almost back to “normal”

    All the rubbish and broken bottles and the harassment and the overcrowding and the traffic jams happen because the Bruce Highway north is so bad that QLD would rather invade the serenity and beauty of the Tweed Coast.

    Then when the school holidays arrive the Tweed is one big traffic jam.

    Would like to see Qld people and their jet skis go north.

    Tell the QLD Gov to fix the Bruce Highway.

  7. susan says:

    Build a Wall. Make Byron Great Again. Nolan goes Trump. Sad

  8. Louise says:

    Seriously what a joke? Who do think you are telling tourists they can’t visit Byron shire because your inconivenved by it.Its like Bondi locals complaining that Bondi beach is to crowded.If live any popular area there’s always going to parking issues it’s just part of life.Also the council obviously is not the best at maintaining public facilities but tourists can not be blamed for this.You want stop me from visiting I’m former Ballina resident anyway.Maybe you should be telling people to visit Ballina instead it’s beautiful and welcomes tourists with open arms

  9. James Bridgman says:

    As a long term resident (30 + years) in the Byron area I fully support Mandy Nolan’s latest column in the Echo.We dont swamp your town with ‘ shazas hens night’ t shirts with penis straws around our necks , nor do we strut around with our end of year footy singlets with a stubby holder around our wrist so we have cold drinks till we pass out. Nor would we shop in your local Woolies in a bikini g string , or with our shirt off so you can admire our great tattoos.
    No , I would like to think that we would visit your area to enjoy what your town has to offer in a respectful way.
    Don’t like what I have to say ? I don’t f***ing care.

  10. Joe says:

    There is no escaping rampant population ponzi growth of Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast. You think quality of life there can degrade year after year and Byron maintain what it has? We are one interconnected country. To protect the way of life you love the cities must be made liveable. We need 70k immigration per year not 200k. What do you say Mandy? What do the Greens have to say? Wake up please.

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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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