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Byron Shire
February 4, 2023

Mandy Nolans Soapbox: West We Forget

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West we Forget

If the West Byron development goes ahead the Byron that you know, the Byron that we love, is dead. Murder. In plain daylight. Except this murder has been calculated, financed and sanctioned by the state.

Allowing development at West Byron is the same as driving a coal port through the barrier reef. It will destroy something fragile and beautiful. Not so much coral bleaching, but car-al belching. It will be a new version of the Peter Weir classic The Cars that Ate Paris contemporised to reflect current realty rape, aka ‘The Cars that Ate Paradise’.

Imagine 100,000 extra cars every week, many of them travelling the small stretch between Ewingsdale and Byron. It’s ludicrous. If that road were an artery the town would be having a full-scale heart attack. Then add trucks full of one million tonnes of fill. That’s more than 500,000 trips by a dump truck. Beautiful Byron ain’t sounding so beautiful anymore.

Planning geniuses in Sydney have engineered the ultimate gridlock by positioning the exit to Bangalow/Lismore via a roundabout next to the roundabout to Byron next to another mini-roundabout for the hospital. Was this a late-night cone-pulling and drinking round about drawing session? So Bangalow didn’t want an exit so Byron got all of them?

Were the architects of Roundabout World stoned and laughing as they gasped ‘One more! We’ll put in another one!’ Three roundabouts in 300 metres. It’s like traffic-induced vertigo.

Was the RTA hoping that a bit like Blind Man’s Bluff, if you turned people around enough times they might just leave? Dizzy people giving up and deciding instead to spend two weeks in Woodburn. The traffic entering Byron and leaving Byron is problematic already. It’s not just problematic; it’s the root cause of the ‘Oh fuck, I’m not going to Byron today’ anxiety that grips many of us who have to schedule our trips so we don’t enter the badlands of bumper-to-bumper insanity. And that’s just those of us who have to go to Byron.

Imagine living IN Byron. It’s cruel. The good people of Byron have coped with enough. Are people going to have to take a ballot to decide what days they can leave their houses so that the roads don’t clog?

We simply can’t accommodate thousands more vehicles. Just after the hospital was opened I was rear-ended in a five-car pileup. Why? Because at peak times there is a significant traffic situation. The state government seems happy to push poor Byron to breaking point. Surely a town that does so much yoga won’t snap?

Byron doesn’t have the geography for continuous expansion. It’s a point. It’s a point that developers don’t seem to get. Stop. Enough. Look after what you have. You don’t have to be a cartographer to look at a map and realise the unique thing about Byron Bay is that it’s landlocked. That’s why it’s so precious. This small yet magical bay.

There has to be some sort of cap on what kind of population and development pressure you can put on what is clearly a finite space. Byron doesn’t have the geography of urban sprawl that the Gold Coast has. You can’t push your suburban skirts out for kilometre after profitable kilometre. That being so, desirability has become extremely high.

Everyone wants to be in the coveted Byron triangle. But it’s just not possible. Sorry. It’s full. The turmeric-infused hipster dreaming is not for all.

And please don’t start bleating on about affordable housing. Nobody is going to develop Byron for affordable housing. Byron isn’t affordable. It won’t ever be affordable. It stopped being affordable 20 years ago. Affordable housing is what developers say when Council says NO. There’s still time to stop this koala- and culture-killing cancer called West Byron.

Please send your submission to Byron Shire Council – [email protected] by Thursday 29 March. West We Forget.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. In America, it is said that after Trump, because the news outlets were so confused and either publishing Trump generated falsehoods, or being accused of “fake news” for publishing real news, that the only reliable source of news were comedians and late night show hosts. So it is appropriate that a comedienne, Mandy Nolan hits the nail on the head….nails on the heads. The triple roundabout….try getting in to Byron at 8:30 or 9 am and find yourself backed up 1 km on the Pacific Motorway, with the signs posting a laughable 80 kms an hour, when in fact you are going 0 kms an hour. Maybe rather than West Byron, we should drain the swamp of developers, build somewhere else, and buy bicycles and people can ride from the hospital or Cavanbah Center to town. Or a shuttle for those allergic to perspiration. If the sale of land set aside for a community center in Ocean Shores is any indication of developer ethics and council oversight, then West Byron is certain to be a fiasco, an ongoing headache for the good people of Byron Shire, with councils of the future crying “poor”, we need more taxes, to pay for infrastructure to deal with sewage, flooding, traffic, and so on. The solution would be to extract huge financial concessions up front to pay for infrastructure before the develpment can proceed, so that future generations are not saddled with the problems left by robber baron developers. This is a process well known in Canadian land development, called “Develpment Cost Charges”, the bane of real estate developers, but a way for governments to ensure they don’t go bankrupt so developers can make morney on the backs of municipal infrastructure. How about being creative, and passing a bylaw that there be special shuttle buses from West Byron, and a special road toll for anyone driving from there in to Byron? Ok, enough for now.

  2. Having been a regular to Byron Bay for over 25 years with a sister living there, I have seen the changes from it being a lovely spot to visit, to it becoming a place to avoid & get out of asap after visiting friends!
    Like this week, realising there are parking meters if you want to visit Clarkes Beach! Whaaat?
    My sister ended up leaving for good when the traffic & congestion got too much. She & her husband evacuated to Tewantin & had to set up their business all over again.
    We don’t have very good town planners, do we? They don’t have much foresight, or even logic!!
    How is it…we the populace, the ordinary people, can see what’s happening & protest against all this development, and yet still it happens…?
    And don’t get me started on the business of rail trails versus rail transport on the Murbah to Casino line…..look how much positive press worldwide the little old Byron Solar Train has received already!
    Grrr!

  3. i arrived in the bay in 78,worked as a labourer for the council among other things.i now live down the coast as many crew do.you cant stop byron.you cant have your cake and eat it.one example is the industrail estate.everyone making a profit of the byron name but the estate is a pig sty.small creeks choked with rubbish,shit out the back of nearly every business,empty 44 gallon drums,old cars.the place is a dump.but everyone cashs in.if byron is to survive everyone must do there bit.everyone.start teaching the people who move to the bay how to respect there home.visitors must also be shown its not a place to trash but a place to learn from.turn a negative into positive,but it requires hard work,effort,and heart.something so called local byron crew dont seem to have enough of.you dont want new housing in your shire,well thats cool but for heavens sake fix up all your other problems first before putting shit on the new kid on the block

    • Well said Deetz You are spot on… Blowins making money from the Byron name are trashing the industrial estate Locals too. I left that grubby place 20 yrs ago but come down weekly for my work… So sad what has happened. Short range people..

  4. Not that Mandy is incorrect but FOWF is very unattractive.
    Funny thing about people, they kill what they love.
    Especially if there’s a buck, or a million, in it.

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