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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Could Palm Avenue be the most potholed street in the Shire?

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This image barely captures the swiss cheese-like state of Palm Avenue in Mullumbimby, sometimes referred to as Mullum’s most potholed street. Image supplied

Richard Hil

If there were a league table for potholed streets in Mullumbimby, Palm Avenue or ‘Palmy’ – just off Main Arm Road – would surely take the prize.

So pockmarked is this otherwise attractive cull de sac that it could be mistaken for scene in All Quiet on the Western Front.

Let’s do the maths

To gain a sense of the scale of the problem, I calculated the ratio of potholes to each Palmy resident.

It worked out at around 80 to 100 holes per person – enough for a slot in the Guinness Book of Records. The depressions vary from the gargantuan – enough to consume a fair-sized marsupial, to shallower pits, which, under the right conditions, are potential leg breakers. But there are mounds too; some large enough to topple the unwary cyclist or pedestrian.

Traversing this lunar landscape requires extreme caution and considerable concentration.

A nonchalant stroll is out of the question.

Despite the obvious hazards, I enjoy the challenge of cycling down Palmy.

It’s like an extreme sport.

On one occasion I foolishly flew into the avenue only to have my innards scrambled and teeth chipped, such was the shuddering sensation.

Now that I have moved into the neighbourhood, I have a vested interest in laying bare the full realities of living on Palmy.

Council inaction

I know the residents have approached the Council about the need for the road to be properly sealed rather than patched up, but thus far… no active response.

It’s a sad state of affairs. 

The Palmy folk seem like a nice lot – reasonable people who just want a nice, flat stretch of tarmac.

Not much to ask, you’d think.

They feel forgotten and overlooked, forsaken by a Council with a swag of enduring excuses.

Consigned to historical oblivion, the good denizens of Palmy seem destined to struggle on – twisted ankles, damaged car axles and punctured tyres notwithstanding. 

There’s much more that could be said about this and other stretches of road throughout the Shire.

I’ve noted some of the social justice implications in a previous scribble.

Why?

How is it, I naively wonder, that there can be so much concentrated wealth in the Shire but that the roads remain so stricken?

It seems like a contradiction.

Why has this problem persisted for so long?

Why all the excuses?

Why the temporary fixes that probably cost more over time than fixing the actual problem?

Isn’t this a health and safety issue?

Solutions

Is there any chance of some pork-barrelling here?

Or how about this – a voluntary levy targeted at those with incomes over $500,000? 

Or a progressive levy for all the Shires residents?

Or turn the whole damn thing into a human rights issue?

Or how about an annual pothole festival where you attract thousands of fascinated visitors?

Or the Council could ask for pothole sponsors – whoppers $500, minor depressions $100 and mounds $50.

We could have an annual prize for the biggest pothole.

If the state government won’t cough up, why not consider something, anthing, that can finally generate the required funds?

The options are endless. Rather than scaling Mount Chincogan, we could have the Annual Palmy Dash. Failing all that, you could do what one inventive soul did a few years back and plant Marijuana in the bigger depressions, or simply hire out Stuart Street for a ready-made war film set.

Turn a negative into a positive.

All we need is some imagination.

Not more excuses.

Richard Hil is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Social Work and Human Sciences at Griffith University. He is also a keen local cyclist. He recently moved to Palm Avenue with his partner.


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