12.4 C
Byron Shire
June 15, 2021

Putting a lid on the pothole problem

Latest News

Pro rail trail association urges Council to award construction tender

Representatives from the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Association are urging Tweed Shire Council to award the construction tender for the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek section of the corridor at this week’s Council meeting.

Other News

Developers aim to double Bayside suburb

Developers seeking to double the size of Bayside, a small suburb on the outskirts of Brunswick Heads, have responded to Echo questions around potential traffic congestion and the lack of open spaces. 

Cartoon of the week – 8 June, 2021

We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

That may be HIStory but HERstory is a bit different

Cr Sarah Ndiaye, BSC Deputy Mayor Tom Tabart, cantankerous curmudgeon. Was glad to see the back of him. Offered him my...

Forest blockade stops logging at Wild Cattle Creek

A tree-sitter a the Newry Native Forest Blockade has stopped NSW Forestry Corporation (FCNSW) from logging native forest an hour and a half west of Coffs Harbour in Wild Cattle Creek state forest this morning.

Mullumbimby home seriously damaged in fire

A home on Ann Street, Mullumbimby, was badly damaged in a house fire over the weekend.

High school attack

Dan Reade, Ocean Shores Mandy Nolan’s ‘Soapbox’ claim that schools have remained unchanged for the last 200 years, seems only informed...

Multipurpose potholes have been put to a range of uses over the years by locals. Photo Aslan Shand. 

Richard Hill

A few years back, a senior UK parliamentarian attended the World Social Forum – a gathering of non-government organisations concerned with rolling back the global corporate order.

During a lull in proceedings he was approached by a very earnest young man who declared: ‘We have to topple global capitalism and we have to do it now! Nothing is more pressing.’ 

The parliamentarian nodded approvingly and said to the young man, ‘Well, yes, I think you’re probably right. But, you see, the thing is, as a local member I have all sorts of things to deal with and Mrs Jones, who tuns 75 next year, has been denied an aged care bungalow so I am rather preoccupied with that’.

Which brings me to the potholes in Mullumbimby. We laugh and joke about them, and occasionally we curse them. We talk about them over dinner and sometimes threaten to sue the Council when our car suspension systems or tyres are wrecked.

While there’s no shortage of potholes across the Shire, the real pearlers are to be found in Mullum, lots of them: small, medium and whopping great big ones. Some are big enough to consume a decent sized pram, with the parent attached.

Viewed from the air, many of Mullum’s cratered carriageways resemble scenes from the First World War, minus the trenches. One road skirting the Brunswick River has so many filled holes that there’s barely any sign of the original surface.

Most of us, I think, have decided to put up with these aberrations, although complaints surface regularly at Council meetings and during election campaigns.

The Mullumbimby Pothole Palm with its signature hubcap seed on Main Arm Road at about 5pm, Monday, May 13, 2019. Photo Felix ‘Fronds’ Willis.

Pothole folklore

Some of Mullum’s more creative denizens have tried to grow plants in the deeper depressions, and one brave soul, in a display of civil duty, painted colourful lines around the outer rims of the offending pits, only to be apprehended and fined by the police – or so I’m told.

A couple of roads in Mullum are so potholed that it’s almost impossible to traverse them. Perhaps the most horrendous example of these hazardous hollows is in Stuart Street – one of the busiest thoroughfares in Mullum. It’s where shoppers park their cars and cyclists navigate what are laughingly called cycle lanes.

Cyclists, including me, who have attempted to ride along the section of Stuart Street near the town centre, refer to it as the ‘bone rattler’. The alleged cycle lane is so pitted that one is forced into the equally pock-marked main drag. It is, if nothing else, a life-threatening experience.

Mullum’s potholes have become the stuff of folklore. But what does their enduring presence say about the place in which we live? Are there more serious issues associated with this problem?

Each week in Echonetdaily and The Echo, we read about the injustices perpetrated by nasty plutocrats and reckless governments.

We call for the upending of the capitalist system. We rage against prejudice and discrimination and the trashing of human rights. But perhaps we should take a closer look at our own town.

The fact is that we have streets without pavements, making it impossible for many older people, and those with prams, wheelie walkers and wheelchairs to get around. Some streets are so dark at night that torchlight is required to navigate them. Those with low vision walk these streets at their peril. Some elderly people, and some with disabilities have given up going into town, for fear of tripping over jagged footpaths, or falling into one of those potholes.

I know of someone in her eighties – let’s call her Elizabeth – who hasn’t been to town for months. The last time she did so, she nearly fell into a pothole after stepping out of a car in Stuart Street. The net effect is that people like Elizabeth have been excluded from enjoying town life. They’re often confined to their homes. The potholes are not only an ugly menace, they also signify the injustices that we often fail to see. While we’re busy trying to topple corporate capitalism, Elizabeth and others like her are simply ignored – or perhaps the whole pothole thing has been consigned to the too hard basket.

Whatever the reason for the continuing presence of these eyesores – and I have heard endless explanations and rationalisations – they’re not a laughing matter, at least not for those whose quality of life is affected. I do wonder; if we fail to see the social problems caused by potholes, what else are we missing? Or perhaps we do see them, but shrug our shoulders, or say it’s all too difficult. Would it help perhaps, to reframe the pothole debacle as a social justice issue, rather than a matter of road maintenance? I wonder what Elizabeth would say about this?

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Try driving on Booyong Road, out Clunes way but still in Byron Shire – bone-rattling it definitely is, shock-absorber challenging too. All we ever get to ‘improve’ this terrible surface is a scatter of mini-gravel & a squirt of bitumen which washes out in the next downpour or falls out after relatively few vehicles have passed over it. One area of the surface was so bad the Council decided to stop trying to repair it & took the bitumen surface off, so now it’s a stretch of dirt road, also with potholes! Booyong Road is almost single track in many places, so there’s absolutely no way of avoiding the potholes &, to travel the road without being shaken to pieces, one has to slow down to a crawl. The country roads are as bad as some of the town ones – Council just doesn’t seem to have the money to properly upgrade our roads so that the surface lasts longer; State Government needs to help much more & Council needs to lobby for more assistance.

  2. The “brave soul” who painted brightly colored designs around – and more importantly leading up to – many potholes is an authentic folk hero! He should be given Councils highest civic award, not penalized.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

It’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and Dementia Australia is calling for all Australians to make themselves aware of the different forms elder abuse can take and to be alert to vulnerable Australians, including people who live with dementia. 

Pro rail groups join to rally on Thursday

Four local groups have banded together and will host a rally calling for urgent consultation on the removal of the train tracks on the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek rail corridor.

Forest blockade stops logging at Wild Cattle Creek

A tree-sitter a the Newry Native Forest Blockade has stopped NSW Forestry Corporation (FCNSW) from logging native forest an hour and a half west of Coffs Harbour in Wild Cattle Creek state forest this morning.

You Can Close Your Eyes

There is a beautiful James Taylor song (‘You Can Close Your Eyes’) that commences with the words; Oh, the sun is surely sinking down, But the moon is slowly rising.