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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Potholes deep dive

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Do you have an IF?

When 12-year-old Bea moves into her grandmother Margaret’s apartment in New York, while her father waits for heart surgery in the same hospital where her mother died of cancer years earlier, she chafes against his playful antics, insisting she can handle the situation with maturity.

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Wilsons Creek Public School scoops NSW Landcare award

Wilsons Creek Public School was honoured with the Woolworths Junior Landcare Award on June 3 at the NSW Landcare Awards.

Winter fest at Byron High, June 18

To celebrate the creative and artistic talents of students, Byron Bay High School is holding its annual Winter Arts Festival (a.k.a the WAF) showcase evening on Tuesday, June 18. 

The Village Grocer is shutting down

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270 ready to contest Seas The Day women’s surfing at Kingscliff

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AI’s invisible bystanders

In her Echo column last week, Mandy Nolan recommended literature for her daughter, including classics like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. 

While Byron Council tells residents there’s no funding to repair flood-damaged roads and vital access to peoples’ homes, or fix the dangerous craters in the roads we have to drive on, its seems funding can be found for Byron Council staff to investigate the feasibility of ripping up the valuable train line for a bike track for ‘cycling tourism’ in Byron Shire. There also seems to be funds for staff to investigate the availability of federal and state government funding for ‘cycling tourism’.

In an area where people are constantly complaining about the traffic in our towns, the state of roads and lack of parking, as well as the lack of affordable, accessible, cost-effective public transport, and thousands have been calling for sustainable train services on the train line, there seems to be something terribly wrong with Council’s priorities.

So far 13 kilometres of bike track from Casino to Bentley, and 24 kilometres of track from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek has cost taxpayers $22 million, or about $600,000 per kilometre. That’s not good value for taxpayers when repairs to the train line in Byron cost $660,000 to run the solar train.

At the very least, before Council spends another cent on ‘cycling tourism’ there needs to be a genuine evaluation of the environmental, social, and economic benefits of the Tweed section of track. Tweed locals are reporting little, if any benefits from ‘cycling tourism’, just more traffic in once-quiet towns. Tourists have to drive to the track, many in huge gas-guzzling SUVs, as there’s no alternative. Locals who live next to the track also question the numbers of cyclists reportedly using it.

For many years, both Labor and the state LNP promised funding for trains and a commuter train service on the line. They also promised to start planning for the rail connection to be built to the Queensland rail system at Coolangatta. It’s impossible for 30,000 Byron ratepayers to continue funding roads and other infrastructure for 2.5 million tourists. We pay some of the highest rates in the country, but still can’t get a park at the beach or shops.

You’d think in Byron Shire at the very least our council would be demanding the state government provide the vital funding for trains as promised, and the train line used to provide the social, environmental, and cost-effective public transport needed by locals and 2.5 million tourists, while reducing traffic and emissions in our towns.

Louise Doran, Ocean Shores

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  1. Byron Shire Council participates in the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation (NRJO). Based on the success of interstate rail trails as shown by data collected on visits and spending, and studies by Monash and Queensland universities, and on the success of the first pilot rail trail from Tumbarumba to Rosewood, the NSW Government funded a number of multiple councilsto do feasibility and design studies on rail trails in NSW, including a study managed by the NRJO on completing the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, and on developing a connection from Bangalow to Ballina.
    Part of the core work of the staff of all councils is responding to opportunities identified in such studies, and if they find that the benifits are worthwhile, pursuing grants to implement the recommended investments.
    The consultants advising the NRJO had the benifit of independenty assessing the data on visits to stage one of the NRRT and the feedback from local businesses in Tweed. Their report will show the benifits of completing the NRRT are far beyond the costs. Importantly and in line with spirit of the NSW Government’s framework on rail trails the benifits described are regional . The NRJO report will also show the benifits of making a strategic connection to one destination, Ballina. Other linkages beyond the scope of the NRJO study are being considered by councils, communities and the NSW Government from the NRRT to Brunswick Heads (from Mullumbimby), Kyogle , Tweed Heads and New Brighton and OceanShores. Louise should be pleased that when completed those NRRT tourists will have multiple places around the region to start their journey, will be able to access it by a variety of public transport and will not add to parking woes in Byron Shire’s beachside and other tourist destinations.
    The initial success of the NRRT from Casino and its expected completion to Lismore in October reminds us that the reason Lismore Council accepted the funding was because it recognised the importance of stimulating the local economy in the post-disaster recovery phase.
    The feasibility and academic studies show the benifits from rail trail are much greater as the trails
    extend and stays in an area extend, creating more valuable overnight spending. But to deliver those benifits requires both the support of councillors which we now have across the region and the hard work of our councils’ dedicated staff.


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Spanish Film Festival

It’s fiesta time as the 2024 HSBC Spanish Film Festival, presented by Palace Cinemas, prepares to set screens alight with a superb selection of the finest new films from Spain and Latin America. The festival’s largest lineup to date opens nationally in June at Palace Cinemas.

Byron Open Mic at Yulli’s

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