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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Who’s Fucking Byron?

West Byron protest organiser, Parkway Drive’s front man, Winston McCall rallying the troops in Byron.

Every time I start a conversation about inappropriate development in Byron I hear the same tired refrain. ‘Byron’s fucked anyway.’ This is based on the belief that it used to be good but now it’s not. 

Is it a coincidence that it’s generally said by people who used to be young and now they’re not? Getting older does tend to make you more cynical. And with that comes this cavalier attitude of saying things are fucked. Like the Barrier Reef. I mean you could save it, but it’s fucked anyway. And the koala – sorry, fucked. Um, what about the white rhino? Yep, it’s fucked too. Orangutans – pretty well fucked. 

Saying stuff is fucked means you don’t have to do anything about it. You can smugly wipe your hands of all responsibility and walk away telling everyone you left early because you knew it was going to eventually end up on the ‘It’s Fucked’ list. 

Byron’s not fucked. You fucked off. 

I don’t subscribe to the ‘Byron’s Fucked Anyway’ campaign. That’s defeatist, and it plays into the hands of the big developers who are sitting there waiting for Byron to stop protesting and bend her over and fuck her as hard as they can. Developer Rape. ‘She asked for it. I mean you can’t fuck up something that’s already fucked can you?’

But there is hope. I still think that we could create a cohesive and unified community in balance with tourism. It just takes vision. It’s hard to see in the future when you spend too much time looking into the past. 

We have to stop focusing on what we should be and start working on what we could be. Sure the past has a lot to teach us, but if we spend too much time looking in the rear-vision mirror we’re going to crash into the obstacles that lie ahead. Like West Byron. That is what I think has happened to Byron. 

I’ll admit that I too suffer from the ‘how great Byron used to be’ affliction that stops us doing anything about what’s happening now. 

I once was young and once used to live in Byron in the utopian time of ‘goodness’ in the pre-fucked era of free love and abundance (which btw the surfers said was ‘fucked’ even back then because we were there), and I do remember the heyday when we used to rent cheap beachfront shacks, there was all-day parking and an actual ‘low’ season. And I was hot. 

So was Byron. It was a wicked combination. Byron’s not fucked. Fucked over – yes. Fucked up – maybe. Occasionally full of fuckwits – definitely. Full of people fucking? Always. Isn’t that why we came here? 

But Byron’s not fucked. It may be tired. Exploited. Overused. It may have an oversupply of greed and a generalised compassion deficit. It may suffer from poor planning. Lack of long-term vision. Cohesive and strategic strategy. But this isn’t all Byron is. 

The Arakwal know the stories that made this place, the stories that quietly inhabit the places where we noisily scramble for space. Every day there are more stories. This place is a magnet for stories. A catalyst for change. 

As much as I complain and bitch about Byron, I have to admit that Byron still moves me. Even now when I have to spend 50 minutes auditioning for the daily episode of Ewingsdale Survivor and experience Australia’s most easterly rear-ending. I get to the Pass and I know that it’s worth it. The sand on my feet. The soft wind on my back. The silky caress of the water around my ankles. It doesn’t happen anywhere else.

When I swim at Surfers Paradise I don’t feel it. Nor do I feel it at Bondi. Or Evans Head. All great beaches, but not Byron. That’s the Byron thing. It’s why people come here. 

There is something absolutely undefinable and transformative about Byron – our bizarre Mecca for the spiritually and emotionally bereft. For those whose lives have broken, or are yet to break. For addicts finding sobriety. For sober people finding addiction. For the lost finding direction. For those with too much direction finding the courage to get lost. For the lonely and disconnected. For the connected and frightened of being alone. For those with no money who came to make more. For those with too much money trying to make even more. 

So don’t say Byron is fucked. I suggest that instead of bagging it, and saying Byron’s fucked, why don’t you actually stop fucking it. Do something about it. 

Keep saying NO to West Byron.


18 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Who’s Fucking Byron?”

  1. Tim says:

    yes Mandy, I will keep on fighting to, because once West Byron has fucked Byron, we can’t un-fuck it!

  2. Jay Gordon says:

    Developer influence over council is a whole huge fucktangle of fucking going on.
    Councillors need to disclose vested interests for full transparency of who is consenting to a lot of fucking over of the citizens.

    Stay tuned next week for the revocation of the clothing optional status of Tyagarah beach.
    Despite the massive effort by the freedom loving, normally pacifist, nudists they have been royally fucked over as have been all the many thousands of visitors to Byron who use the beach and spend money in Byron Shire on accommodation, restaurants etc.

    No wonder people become weary from their efforts to stop the fuckery.
    This eventually leads to the observation that things are fucked.

  3. Kalar Holland says:

    This tendancy now of people to sue Council to BULLY them for the private persons’ bottom line, has got to stop. First it was the tree in Lennox Head. 200 years old got the chop because the owners of the house, who knew well and truly the tree was there when they bought it, brought a suit to council, and VOILA, now the tree is gone. This West Byron developer is rude, profit oriented, and just not nice. To sue Council before a decision made, knowing it will just cost tax payers dollars to defend the suit…well that is blatant BULLYING It has to stop. Yes Byron is jewel, and it was long before money was even around these parts. So enough is enough. Council, be strong. You know the truth, and it ain’t just rates and money. It is integrity with the land that we all get so priviledged to be on…not in ownership of it, but to be with it.

    • Greg says:

      Well Mandy, the reason why Byron is becoming fucked, NSW is becoming fucked, Australia is becoming fucked and the World is becoming fucked all boils down to one thing,Human overpopulation.
      Pixiland religious beliefs, selfish, inconsiderate people breeding like it’s a tag team event is driving this catastrophe, all the relevant information, such has birth to death ratio’s etc, etc is available on the internet and it is frightening.
      All the over breeders on this Planet should look in the mirror and hang their heads in shame, there is no Planet ‘B’

  4. Alastair says:

    How do you unfuck something when your voice is ignored, because you don’t have the kind of wealth that is heard?

    How do you not walk away, when you can’t afford to fight to stay in your home anymore because the Hemsworths or the Damons have decided that Broken is the new LA, or some other superficial bugger sees this land as an investment, rather than a community?

    How do you not walk away, when you want more out of life than to just service rich wankers who smugly tell you ‘I’m a local’, but care nothing for the neighbourhood around them?

    Ever read the comments section on a article on affordable housing? Some of the people who helped to weave the fabric of their communities are told they no longer have any right to be here – so why should they bother to unfuck the place on the way out?

    Reap what you sow. Fucking off and getting driven off are not the same thing, and when you lose all the freaks and fairies, you end up with the empty vapid bubble that most people moved here to get away from.

    Byron is fucked, the most egalitarian thing about this shire is the potholes – lets just hope this cancer doesn’t spread into the hills and across the caldera.

  5. Jim Beatson says:

    Mandy Nolan, a jewel of humour and conviction journalism proves that Byron may be damaged but is certainly ‘not fucked’. I’ve only lived here 15 years, and though certainly in worse shape than when I arrived, but it takes decades for the greedy thoughtless new to fuck our beautiful community and region.
    My reason for spending about six years working on Byron Shire Council’s Tourism Advisory Committee, always chaired by either our current mayor or deputy mayor, was that Council would determine the image of our Shire by promoting on local websites and media and state national and international tourism websites and publications, our 19 ‘core values’ developed by the committee and adopted by Council 10 years ago:
    1. Respect for residential, amenity and community lifestyle
    2. Celebration and appreciation of the cultural and social diversity of the Shire
    3. Conservation and enhancement of the rich natural environment, flora, fauna, beach, marine life and coastline
    4. The community, arts, heritage and natural environment
    5. The diversity contained within the whole shire, its villages, parks and reserves, and agriculture
    6. Local produce, cuisine, arts, crafts, culture, services, their producers and outlets
    7. Local history and cultures – inclusive of aboriginal, spiritual and healing
    8. Harmony, sensitivity and courtesy
    9. Safety and security
    10. Acceptance of others, their beliefs and practices provided such beliefs and practices are not harmful to others
    11. Active lifestyles
    12. On-going education and self enlightenment
    13. A relaxed, engaged and healthy community
    14. A consultative and collaborative approach
    15. Innovation
    16. Economic, social, cultural and environmental balance (quadruple bottom line)
    17. Support of appropriate sustainable economic activity (including tourism) throughout the Shire
    18. A wide range of rich and unique visitor experiences that focus on the natural environment, wellness, and cultural diversity of the Shire
    19. Welcoming visitors who share our community values
    Or does Byron Council happily stand back and let its image become just an aggregation of tourism promoters with images of bikinis, beaches, restaurants and party goers.
    Surely it’s time Byron Shire Council promoted its own core values reflected so brilliantly every week in the brilliant Echo written by the always brilliant Mandy Nolan.
    Jim Beatson
    Byron Bay

  6. Liz L says:

    I agree and disagree Mandy. I think with great sadness that Byron is fucked and will become even more fucked when the new state holiday let laws take hold.

    It’s never an option though to stop fighting – fighting to unfuck or fighting to minimise the damage. It’s not easy though when so many of the ‘progressive’ councillors – the ones we got in a landslide in reaction to the last lot – are surprisingly just as determined to continue the fucking by being happy to allow a whole pattern of decisions – ‘function centres’ in rural zones, to pave the way to commercialising our few community spaces, to exclude the community from deliberations on the future of the wetlands and call in the developers at the old South Byron sewerage treatment land etc etc.

    I can understand that many have been driven out but for anyone who remains – what you turn your back on you condone.

  7. Alison says:

    Well said Mandy. Thank you

  8. Frank Andreas Runge says:

    I came in 1984 to Byron, the meat works just closed. It was not a perfect place, to find a job was difficult.
    I stayed on, there was a beauty that I recognise when Mandy talks about it. A place for change. And
    that “paradigm of change” is what kept me here ’til 2008. Problem is, change never arrived even though we all talked about it. Greedy people with greedy minds, involvement in wars that should have never happened,
    the country in the grips of an industrialist elite, exploited and abused. And politics to be ashamed of.
    And I am not talking about Geoff Whitlam.
    Still Byron at its best can celebrate that spirit of diversity and sustainability through all different art und lifestyles, when thinking about Byron that is what moves my heart.
    I dream about coming back, the last time I was queuing in that endless bumper to bumper traffic from the highway. I did not recognise a familiar face in the street. I fucked off then, not to be missed.
    Certainly I have changed, for better or worse. and I recognise beauty when I see it. It is still there, on the beaches! In the smiles!

  9. Ruth Rich says:

    Fucking great article Mandy

  10. Tracey Anderssen says:

    Thanks so much Mandy, there is power in numbers…it’s never too late to join the protest to West Byron, now is the time to act if you haven’t already. Keep up to date with actions by liking Byron Residents Group on Facebook or accessing the website. Power to the People of Byron Shire.

  11. will conner says:

    well said Mandy!!

  12. Vicki says:

    Right ON!

  13. Michael says:

    Unfortunately I agree with Alastair. I just hope the freaks and fairies and all the other good people who can’t afford to live in and around Byron anymore can find another place just as beautiful to live. I know there is only one Byron and it’s a special place but I believe it’s the people that make it truely magical. I can’t see how I will be able to afford to live here in a few years, so I’ll be keeping an eye on where the special people from this place move onto in the hope I can join them in creating something new and even more amazingly beautiful.

  14. Jonesy says:

    So true. I had similar thoughts when reading in the msm last week that Yamba was going to be the new Byron. Cue the comments about how Byron is lost and Yamba needs to resist change at all costs..
    I thought, who says Byron is gone? The Daily telegraph? Even if diminished it has a spirit that is unmatched by any coastal town in australia. Still!

    Nice fish and chips, some coffee shops with pallet furniture and more retirees does not make a new Byron however many times that is claimed. Saying Byron is lost is welcoming the gold coastification and mainstreaming that so many bored people take shelter in. Rare places in the world like Byron need to be celebrated for being different.

  15. liz elliott says:

    St Mandy has spoken. Beautifully. May she have special grottoes all over the shire where the faithful congregate for humour and inspiration.
    The exhaustion of the few fighting for the commons in the face of the money grubbers is across the board, and overcoming it requires understanding of the money creation as debt principle which enslaves the young, trades away the commons and will lead us shortly to financial collapse when tourism will shrink and developers be left in their own poorly drained swamp. No new developments east of the highway!!

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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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