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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Macadamia Castle ignored over noise issue

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How much traffic noise can a koala bear?
Photoshopping by Jeff Dawson

For three years, the owner of the Macadamia Castle Tony Gilding has been seeking compensation for what he describes as the ‘theft’ of a large part of his property by NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).

Mr Gilding says three acres of the local tourist attraction have effectively been stolen because the traffic noise from the Pacific Highway is so loud the land can’t be used for anything.

‘I have no room to grow without this land,’ Mr Gilding says.

‘I’ve sold my home and invested my retirement income to keep this business afloat, but in this industry if you’re not expanding, you’re not going to survive in the long term.’

Mr Gilding concedes that he knew the Pacific Highway duplication was going to be built when he bought the business 12 years ago, but he believes the current noise levels far exceed those predicted by the RMS.

‘Unfortunately I have no way of proving that, because RMS are refusing to do any noise testing and I can’t afford to have it done myself,’ he says.

No compensation

He has been fighting tooth and nail for the government to compensate him for the lost territory, asking that they provide him with three acres of unused Crown land at the south end of his property.

However, he says that despite having a meeting with roads minister Melinda Pavey, a hearing before the small business commissioner, and multiple conversations with the Parliamentary Secretary for the Northern Rivers, Ben Franklin, nothing has been done.

‘The minister told me at our meeting that she would get back to me, but I’ve sent five letters to her and called multiple times and she hasn’t replied or responded even once,’ he says.

He also feels let down by Mr Franklin, who is standing for the state seat of Ballina at the upcoming state election, questioning his claim to have the Macquarie Street connections and clout to achieve outcomes for local people.

‘Ben Franklin has done his best, but sadly failed to get the issue addressed,’ he says.

‘He suggested mediation with the small business commissioner which I did, but after spending weeks preparing for and attending hearings, and over $5,000 in legal costs, I was advised that it is government policy not to mitigate noise affects for businesses and to seek legal advice.

‘Ben Franklin promises he can open doors in Macquarie Street, but so far that hasn’t been my experience. I think the government knows the situation is unfair, but they’re afraid to confront me.’

Mr Franklin told The Echo he had been working with Mr Gilding for the past three years in an attempt to address his concerns.

‘I absolutely understand why he wants a land swap and I am extremely empathetic to his position,’ he said.

Mr Franklin said Mr Gilding would be receiving a phone call from the chief of staff to the finance minister to discuss the possibility of a land swap.

But Mr Gilding said he held out little hope of action as ‘I’ve had numerous meetings with political staffers over the past three years and nothing ever happens’.

A spokesperson for the small business commissioner said the office did not comment on specific cases.

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  1. This is a wonderful place, providing local jobs and a boost to tourism in the area. We visit regularly and can highly recommend it to anyone of any age. A wander through the park or just to devour some amazing pancakes and coffee! It is a gem!!
    Surely the NSW Govt can do this land swap, their unused land for the 3 acres affected by noise levels from the freeway?? Improvements to the Macadamia Castle, and expansion can only be good for the local economy, not to mention the up close, hands on education it provides to people of all ages, particularly kids!!
    It can only be a benefit to all concerned to do this!!!

  2. There is so much information missing from this article that it’s impossible to know whether the owner is making a reasonable claim or not.

  3. I used to live directly across from Macadamia Castle in the 90s. Not sure if Ballina has changed much since I left, but back then the Ballina Advocate was full of ‘KKK’ attitudes, with stories that were GENERALLY about a black man owning a white mansion.
    I am glad to see the ‘Byron Echo’ supporting this business. Once I moved for further studying I would bring Sydney based students up to stay at our place and introduce them to the wonderful assortment of Macadamia across the road.
    I was particularly disappointed when they bypassed Ballina through some of the incredible fishing spots around Tintenbar/Teven that I enjoyed as a teenager, a labyrinth of paradise.
    The most dangerous thing about living in this areas was the Pathetic Highway, ended being much safer to turn into Macadamia Land and wait for traffic to minimise than have a semitrailer hit your backside whilst waiting to turn right.
    Having three acres stolen/compensated must be very concerning. But the traffic noise would be about the same as per the previous setup.
    Anyways, the Macadamia Land was/is/will be an awesome attraction for the BALLINA shire.

  4. This is so sad to hear. We really value Macadamia castle. Its such a great part of our local community. The government should do everything it can to remedy this unfairness.

  5. Surely this swap is just common sense but of the course the govt will be afraid of setting a precedent. Surely each case should be judged on its merit and this is worthy. As a Lennox Head resident I have loved seeing this business remain viable despite the big bypassing of the Highway.
    The noise is definitely amplified by the highway.

  6. The Macadamia Castle is a wonderful place – and something unique and special on the North Coast. These business owners deserve your support and so do the animals that they look after.

    Please do whatever you can.


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