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Byron Shire
November 27, 2022

Lamenting Byron

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We are aware these are trying times, and there is no indication that things are improving. Watching a repeat of one of Michael Portillo’s interesting excursions on a train, this time on the Sydney XPT up the east coast, with a diversion to Byron Bay en route, there seemed something sad about his brief detour to Byron Bay. There was little to be said: the walk to the lighthouse; the sitting on the beach with a French national, sampling meditation, waves, and surfers the backdrop. Prior to arrival, Portillo notes there is no longer a train service here. Then rides on the little solar train on its short section of reclaimed track.

The train sequence seemed an elegy for the lost days of train travel here, though the presenter made little of that. I thought of my own days travelling by train from Lismore to Byron Bay. The wonderful view of the Bay and its backdrop curving behind as the motor rail pulled away from Byron station and many other nostalgic pleasantries.

A mention of hippies in its past and the other earlier characters. It seemed insufficient to explain what has happened here. Merely a footnote to a larger subject.

I honestly wonder why so many flock here? Every year I think, ‘Can it get any worse?’ And so far it has. I have never seen it more crowded. What are they hoping to experience here?

Then there is the selling. Of course, it is intensively marketed in every possible way. But to my mind it has now become uglier. Ugly with naked avarice in action: the new housing developments. An unsolicited junk mail showed a fantasy projection of one out at Ewingsdale. Holiday lets et al. Are people proud of this sort of thing? Just business, one supposes…

The government proudly boast of their infrastructure works here. What is happening in Tennyson Street? I know I am being surprised by unheralded ‘pedestrian diversions’. They are, personally, a damned nuisance. It’s well known that the building of infrastructure drives aspects of capitalist interests.

What we see here is more ugly buildings, more vehicles, skateboards, unregulated electric scooters and bikes, more crowds. Ah yes, the magic of Byron Bay.

David Morris, Byron Bay

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  1. I remember Byron as being kind of magical. I loved going to Fast Eddies for dinner and hearing Morcheeba singing “It’s all part of the process” on the sound system. Now the infrastructure has definitely improved, but there’s no soul anymore. However, it just needs someone with a deep connection to the greater reality. Then the right kind of people will be attracted.

  2. the changes mirror those in bali, two-tiered society, mountains of rubbish, ruined beaches, water shortages, etc etc… and then co-vid hit…

    • Our ancestors did the work, so that we are the first world.
      If you don’t like it you can always move to a crappier part of the planet.

  3. The ‘Greens ‘ at the time sabotaged the shovel ready rail trial (what was to be a paved flat away from traffic beautiful countryside electric cycleway connecting Bryons hinterland Towns) .

    Certain movie ‘ stars’ told their Hollywood mates and broadcast to the world the beauty of
    ( unspoilt) Byron and Broken head.

    We all moved here for one reason or another.
    The real question is …Are we contributing to make It better or worse?


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