Faster than a speeding reality TV producer, members of the Byron community have swiftly mounted a multi-pronged attack against the proposed ‘influencer’ based show Byron Baes, and have already had two protests since Netflix announced the program less than two weeks ago.
Organiser Tess Hall said that she started a petition as soon as the show was announced. ‘I wanted to give our community a voice and to ensure that the planned Netflix production Byron Baes is not granted filming permits that will allow them to film anywhere they please in our Shire and surrounds.’
The petition attracted 3,000 signatures in the first day and after a week was well on the way to 8,000 with the protests raising the numbers.
More than a backdrop for a ‘docu-soap’
Ms Hall and a growing band of locals are objecting to the environment and community of Byron Bay and the larger Northern Rivers region are being used as a filming backdrop for a ‘docu-soap’.
On Monday over a hundred protesters paddled out at Main Beach to create the No Symbol. ‘A paddle-out is a sacred tradition practiced by surfers that is usually reserved for the death of a loved one or family member,’ said Ms Hall. ‘Oceanside communities also use the paddle-out to make their opposition to the threats posed to their local environment by development or other exploitative actions.
‘Today, we paddle out to protect our beloved town that has given us all so much.
‘We stand together united to show without any doubt that we as the community of Byron Bay do not want our name or town to be exploited by the series Byron Baes TV show, which we believe will severely damage our community and future communities.
Byron – a community that comes together
Ms Hall said the community is calling on Netflix and Eureka Productions to listen to the community and cancel the Byron Baes production immediately. ‘Today we are showing the world who Byron Bay REALLY is. A community that comes together for what we all believe in and will fight to protect the town we love. We are so much more than gossip, drama and tacky reality TV. The heart and soul of Byron is still alive and today we are proving that.’
Byron local residents and business also met at Main Beach last Friday for an emergency meeting. The group was brought together by long-standing local Ben Gordon to share their concerns about the series which they say has been forced upon the town without any community consultation whatsoever.
‘Byron is a special place, there’s no doubt about it. And what makes it so special to large extent is the local people and the common values we share. We’re not a commodity, we’re a community. We’re not just something for companies to make money from. There’s a lot of people who have lived here for a long time, this is our home and it is a very special and sacred place to us.’
The gathering discussed what can be done to protect the community and the environment from detrimental impacts that will inevitably follow from allowing a production with this type of ‘tone and style’.
Representatives from local businesses included: The Byron Bay General Store, Bay LeafCafe, The Roadhouse Cafe, No Bones Restaurant, Di Vino Restaurant, Shromunity and The Bread Social.
The Nimbys of Byron Bay
National media has been aroused by the kerfuffle with the Channel 9’s Today show commenting on the story on Monday morning. During the segment, it was suggested that Byron Bay was full of Nimbys who didn’t understand that the production would see jobs and growth in the area and that many people would find themselves employed by the show, something that hasn’t always proven true in recent times as many production companies bring their ‘people’ with them.
The traditional custodians of Byron Bay
Arakwal woman Delta Kay was present at the meeting. ‘I grew up here. Grew up right across the bay here at the Belongil and later over at Tallow Beach so I have seen massive changes in my traditional homelands here,’ said Ms Kay. ‘Our elders have fought very hard to have a say over country and to protect country. It took over 20 years for our elders to get our native title. To be able to look after country and have a say over country and ensure that we work together as a community so our community values and our environmental values are adhered to.’
Ms Kay said that when she heard about Byron Baes, she just shook her head. ‘I mean, what can you say about it? ‘Byron Baes’ – it’s ridiculous! We work hard here, we are a very close community because we love our home. This is our home. How dare Byron Baes come here and make this fantasy world about our little home town.
‘We have huge environmental issues, huge social issues here. I don’t want these influencers coming here and painting this fantasy picture that all is well in Byron Bay. It isn’t.’
‘No one from the production has contacted me or any local mob here, the traditional owners. Personally, as a traditional owner here, I would like to see Byron Baes stopped. They really need to have a think about this and come in and talk to us locals before they even think about doing this production.’