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Byron Shire
December 9, 2023

Who wants to be tarred? Crescent Head fights development

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Aslan Shand

Beautiful coastlines, no traffic jams, dirt roads and that ephemeral ‘character’ note that is slowly being beaten out of Byron Shire and northern NSW still remains at Crescent Head in Kempsey Shire and it is something that local residents think is worth fighting for.


Locals are rallying together this Sunday January 13 at 8.30am to highlight their opposition to the tarring of Point Plomer Road that takes people out to the headland at Limeburners Creek National Park.   

‘This is one of the last two places on the NSW coast that has a dirt road leading to the headland,’ said Amy Bruce from the Crescent Head Ratepayers and Residents Association (CHRRA).

It’s incredibly beautiful, and so far relatively unspoiled. We’re worried that the developers are ready to pounce. We see the tarring of the road as a means of opening up the area for rezoning and development.’

While Council have assured residents that it will not be changing the zoning CHRRA point out that Council have recently changed the zoning within this area on one property to allow increased subdivision.

Previously rejected

The tarring of the road was previously rejected in 2003 when the region’s rich heritage and significant Aboriginal sites were identified and residents and Indigenous elders are saying that the council has made the decision to tar with no consultation.

Beach views off Point Plomer Road. Photo Amy Bruce.

Local Aboriginal elder James Dungay decided to hand back his Certificate of Appreciation for his personal contribution to Wigay Cultural Park, presented to him by Kempsey Shire Council mayor (KSC) in 2012 over the lack of consultation. However, when he tried to make a time to hand his certificate back to the mayor at the council meeting on December 18 he was told by staff that he could hand it back over the counter at the council office.

‘I have lost faith with Council,’ said Mr Dungay.

‘Back in 2003 we had an agreement with Council regarding not sealing this road. Not one Council representative has contacted the Dunghutti community to talk to us about it this time. I feel they haven’t kept their promises to us.’

Bob Mumbler, chair of the Dunghutti Elders Council (Aboriginal Corporation) in Kempsey, says:

‘Personally I don’t want any development out there – I’d like to see Limeburners National Park in the south overlap with Hat Head National Park in the North, and extend west to include the Maria River and Frogmore wetlands. Because I want my grandkids and great grandkids to be able to see what I see today.’

This position is supported but the CHRRA who say there is a gap in the scenic protection provision around Crescent Head from Goolawah Reserve to the Limeburners National Park.

Community consultation rejected

Councillors Bruce Morris and Leo Hauville moved a motion at the December 18 meeting that would have facilitated Kempsey Council engaging with the community on the tarring of Point Plomer Road. This was amended merely to a statement of local character being developed to preserve the ‘character’ of the area.

‘I think some people did not understand the motion,’ said councillor Hauville who seconded the motion.

‘The fact is we should consult the community and it is required under the Local Government Act 1993 and I disagreed with the outcome to not consult the local community and Aboriginal people.

‘What they (Council) haven’t considered are the flow-on consequences of more cars and traffic. Our motion would have facilitated looking at the speed limits on the road and an upgrade to facilities,’ he said.

State recognition

‘Although the community has attempted dialogue a number of times with the KSC, their questions have not been answered in any real way, with one councillor even dismissing stakeholders as “NIMBYs”,’ said a spokesperson for CHRRA.

‘Residents are calling for the area surrounding Point Plomer Rd, an iconic dirt road that joins “The String of Pearls” from Crescent Head to Point Plomer to be recognised by the Australian Heritage Council as a place of State Heritage, owing to the large number of Dunghutti People sacred sites, endangered flora and fauna, and the cultural value of a pristine stretch of the coastline that harks back to a simpler time.’

Kempsey Council respond

‘After extensive consideration, Kempsey Shire Council resolved in October 2018 to proceed with the bitumen sealing of a 6.2km gravel section of Point Plomer Road,’ Kempsey Shire Council’s General Manager, Craig Milburn told Echonetdaily.

‘The funding and timeframe for delivery of the works is dependent on the success of Council obtaining grant funding from the NSW Government.

‘In a detailed report to Council, it was noted that the decision was largely based on enhancing road user safety given the traffic volumes experienced, particularly during holiday periods, and reducing ongoing maintenance costs,’ he said.

‘The Notice of Motion (Nom) considered at the December meeting was amended to enable Council to work closely with the community to develop a local character statement to help preserve the current character of the Point Plomer area.

‘Community consultation will be key to defining the desired character of the area into the future, as part of local strategic planning.’



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  1. As usual, Kempsey Shire Council’s response is pure fantasy, the so-called character statement motion that was pushed through Council via the National Party voting block of Councillors negated any community involvement in the process.
    Make no mistake, KSC has an agenda and community involvement is not part of that agenda.
    The process that Council used to justify the tarring is flawed and self-serving and the excuses rolled out by council to justify the tarring are also self-serving.
    Perhaps KSC should read the following definition of Local Government – “Local government is more than just a provider of municipal services. It is a democratic sphere of government charged with creating vibrant, sustainable and supportive communities. The Local Government Act requires councils to exercise community leadership, promote social justice principles, conserve the environment and facilitate public involvement.
    Unfortunately, very few of these principles are apparent when referring to KSC.

    • Ken Scotten rejected the motion for consultation at the December 18th Council meeting.
      Mr Scotten voted against accepting a community consultation by Councillor Morris and then states no one was consulted? The sealing of Plomer Road in fact was in the Council operating plan. If Mr Scotten does not read these announcements or proposals then he is at fault. The meeting in on YouTube under KSC . Listen to his words.

  2. What the article fails to mention is that half of the road is already sealed. It also fails to mention the safety aspects of this horrendous road – that a child has been hit on a bike here because the dust was so bad the car didn’t seem him and he didn’t see the car. What if that was your child? That police will not police this dirt and with 2500 cars a day – half of them speeding, some drink driving, no seatbelts, families in the trays of utes, teenagers strapped to the tops of vans – someone will die on this road one day. And then who is responsible. 65% of residents who live here want it done. These protestors are not protesting the development or they would be pushing for tighter planning controls – they simply do not want to share it with anyone else – a very selfish view.

    • In twenty plus years I’ve never seen a teenager strapped to the top of a van, or many of the things you mention. Where does this 2,500 cars figure come from? Is that everyday of the week, year round. Unlikely. And half of them do all these things you mention? This is hearsay at best.
      Yes people speed, but if you think they’re going to drive slower on a quiet tarred road, you are going to be disappointed. This road will become a racetrack and burnout heaven for hoons. And the dust will be replaced by the screech of tyres and the stench of rubber! At all hours of the day and night.
      P.S I drove past a police car going down the so called un-policed dirt road just the other day.

      • Do you live here on this road Don? Are you on the road 24/7 like we are? The numbers come from the council traffic counters on the road. And no, that’s just holiday time – normal winters day, 900 cars (more then I’m sure you get down your street – unless you live here). It is not heresay – I have footage on my dash cam. I have had meetings with the police – they won’t patrol SPEED LIMITS – they can’t – it doesn’t have one. You saw them down here for the illegal camping that the pro tar ppl complained about. There are burnouts down here now, all the time – at least if they do it on tar I can see it – can’t see it through the dust now. I’m be happy for that noise and stench of rubber thanks 🙂

        • Paul and Karen

          I own a house in Crescent Head and studiously pay my council rates each quarter. I started travelling to the area when I was 16 or 17. I can also make figures say whatever I need them to say by not providing context to the way the figures were derived in the first place. Yes, I have seen the council produced traffic numbers.

          I cannot, however, accept some of the questionable arguments for tarring this stretch of coastline. Even from those, for the change, who can’t even get my name right. 🙂

          The ‘dusty’ dirt road was there long before you and I came along and hopefully long after we are gone. It is part of the very fabric of the area and had a very major part in my decision to buy here.


    • Lies and half truths are not a defence. The previously tarred sections of the road were done against community wishes, they covered sacred indigenous sites and the then council paid heavily.
      If you move to a place (very recently) and decide you want to change it to suit your own selfish needs, you should consider moving to one of the myriad places on this coast which have fallen prey to rapacious development and leave this beautiful area to those vast majority locals who wish to preserve it, and the many welcome tourists who visit here because of its nature.

  3. Just to clarify a couple of things. 65% is a figure gained from Council’s very poor survey from last year. Current more inclusive numbers show 12 out of 20 (60%) residents do NOT want it tarred. Most of these have already signed a petition and will probably join the protest walk on Sunday to protest Council’s decision. Of the remaining 40% ten percent are still unknown. Of current campers and tourists about 80% do not want to see it tarred and have signed the petition.

    And please check your facts on the accident as it was not dust related. No mention of dust was made. Police reports would confirm this.

  4. I strongly agree that this stretch of road should not be tarred.
    Having visited and surfed this stretch of coast since 1963 it is vital that it remains as close to its original condition as possible – despite theexisting partial tarring and development along this portion.
    The area from Crescent Head to Point Plomer is an increasingly rare stretch of coast where someone of my vintage can still recognise a great deal of it as I originally remember. This is the reason why so many people visit and return and I suspect the tarring of this road will be the thin edge of the wedge for future development.
    If you want to encourage the many people who visit the area please leave it as it is.

  5. I moved away temporarily and have family in the village.

    As ratepayers to KSC @$3,500 and rising we were not notified or consulted either.

    Tin pot councils run by 4% national party members should not be given the power to destroy
    our Natural Beach Heritage, nor be allowed near any of our waterways or National Parks.

    Menindee, this week in the news, showed what these people do to the Environment .

    A coward act by snivelling councillors who know full well this iconic Surf Village will fight back and would never agree to this .

    I also don’t believe 2,500 cars use this heritage road. Maybe Maria River Road, but not Plomer. Plomer is 4WD.

  6. When I was living in Crescent Head and going to school here in the mid 1950s the road was a sand track drivable only by early four wheel drives.Before then I imagine it was a walking path through the bush and swamps.
    Now we have a two lane formed road that is sealed for half of its length so we have come a long way from the original state.
    So,for heavens sake seal the rest of it.That will reduce the dust pollution,maintaince costs and improve safety.

  7. The DUNGHUTTI Traditional owners of COUNTRY
    Has not been consulted with, in a comprehensive investigative way, Despite the continued connection to country = 1000’s YEARS. & lobbying to KSC to
    STOP TARRING, words fell on deaf ears. Kempsey local aboriginal land council in 2019, basically said NO TO Tarring. A LETTER was sent to KSC stating this & an for full Aboriginal archaeological report, THIS WAS NOT DONE. An independent archaeological SURVEY, & other surveys was done at the cost of ratepayers, NOT KSC.
    WHO in Australia & on this planet CARES, I ask ????


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