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Byron Shire
April 17, 2021

Battle for the million dollar view

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A proposal for a 40-seat cafe adjacent to Scarrabelottis Lookout in Coorabell with commanding views to the north and sweeping to the south has come under fire from nearby locals. 

The proposed building, as it sits high on the escarpment of the Shire’s iconic ridgeline, has significant amounts of glass in the structure and will use the lookout as its access and partial carpark. 

Marion Toms, who has lived near the site since 1970, says, ‘This magnificent lookout was given to locals in the 1970s by Mr Scarrabelotti Senior “in perpetuity” and continues to be enjoyed by hundreds’.

‘To give it over to parking and access for a privately owned restaurant would totally spoil the ambience of the site. This lookout provides magnificent viewing of our coastline and it is unparalleled whether at dawn, sunset, enjoying the night skies or anytime in between. Many people have been enchanted by this scenery so let’s keep it unspoiled by rank commercialism.’

Objections submitted by another of the local landowners highlight that the proposal fails to meet a range of the requirements as set out in the zone 7(d) and its subclauses and calls for the proposal to be refused by the Byron Shire Council on multiple grounds. These include that the development will have a visually disruptive effect on the scenic quality and visual amenity of the Shire; it will be geologically hazardous; will be detrimental to the native ecosystem owing to spraying of weeds and runoff from the site onto neighbouring properties; and that it will alienate public lands that were donated to the community. 

Further issues raised in the submission addressed the fact that the ‘large areas of glass and parking will be visible from Mullumbimby to the north, east across the coastal plane, and around to the Cape Byron Lighthouse’ and therefore ‘is a development that is at odds with the Zone 7(d) (Scenic/Escarpment Zone) objectives’.

A satellite light pollution map with the lookout pinned from 2019 data.

Bye bye dark skies?

Light pollution has also been raised as a significant concern by Byron’s Star Stuff organiser and amateur astronomer Dylan O’Donnell.

According to Council, the cafe would not be operating at night; however, as Dylan highlights there would still be lights on in and around the buildings at night that would interfere with the ability to view the night sky. 

‘Anything that adds more light is an issue and often the lights added at commercial sites are not under the control of Council or the proprietor of the business but someone like Essential Energy and they are not turned off at night.

He adds, ‘The lookouts around the region are popular destinations, not just for daytime travellers, but also Milky Way observers. Away from town lights, much of the area is Bortle scale 2 or 3 (with 1 being perfect, like say central Australia). 

‘Unlike most other forms of tourism, space tourism is low impact and family friendly’. 

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  1. As a nearby resident I think the idea is great as long as lookout carparking is not impacted.

    From a light pollution point of view this spot is not pristine – the glow of Byron bay town, the highway and the lighthouse are clearly visible at night.

    • I agree Fred – it would not be a pristine light pollution site up there. Indeed, there are probably those who venture to the lookout at night just to look at the miraculous lights of the semis and B-doubles – the ships of the highways – making there way through our otherwise quiet hills and vales.

  2. if the cafe goes ahead, the only place where the view is not defiled will be from inside the building. Mungo


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