Around this time of year, the topic of illegal camping often raises its dreadlocked head. Byron is a popular place all year round but in summer and school holidays it is a traffic jam of backpacker station wagons, travelers’ camper vans, and hand-built feral motorhomes. Council rangers attempt to dissuade these illegal campers, rough-sleepers, itinerants and the burgeoning ‘van life’ population. Local opinion is split. Most want to see it remain outlawed but some are saying we should set up locations with basic amenities where these groups can stay without being fined or hassled. Byron should be made available even to those who cannot afford it. Also, where would we be without the colourful street life that is being moved on from everywhere else and which is a part of Byron’s unique appeal? Vexed question and maybe worth fleshing out in more detail later.
Nicolette goes to jail
Nicolette van Wijngaarden, 45, the founder of the boutique agency Unique Estates, has been sentenced to more than three years jail for trust fund account fraud. Van Wijngaarden was charged with having misused $3.69 million between 2016 and 2018. Judge John Pickering delivered a non-parole period of one year and nine months. This was the biggest real estate fraud in New South Wales real estate history and the judge wanted to send a message to the real estate industry that this behaviour will be punished. Van Wijngaarden will be eligible for parole on August 20, 2021.
The trial revealed that Byron Bay billionaire Tom Misner pulled out of a $4 million bailout just days before Unique Estates’ February 2018 collapse. Misner is a music producer and entrepreneur behind the international network of SAE music industry colleges. Others were approached to provide a bailout, without success. Even short term small business lender Prospa declined to offer finance.
Unique Estate’s clients included Chris Hemsworth and Collette Dinnigan. It was Collette Dinnigan’s solicitor who prompted the NSW Fair Trading investigation after a deposit went missing for her farm in Minto. ‘I stupidly thought I could pay it back,’ Van Wijngaarden told the court in September. She faced up to 10 years in jail. Thinking the cash flow issues were short-term and seasonal. She claimed lavish expenditure on cars, flowers, and travel was tied to the business. ‘I’m completely devastated that I’m sitting here today, horrified that people have been let down,’ she said.
Get wet with Swimply
Fancy a cool dip on a hot day, but got no pool? No problem, there’s an app for that! US-based start-up Swimply created a splash across the States during their summer. They launched a pool-sharing app allowing homeowners to invite strangers in to take a dip — for a fee, of course. Considering there are apps to share your spare room, your car or even your car space, it was only a matter of time before someone worked out how to share the family pool by the hour. 23-year-old entrepreneur (now Swimply CEO) Bunim Laskin along with his business partner, Asher Weinberger, has completed a fact-finder mission to sunny OZ and expects the app to roll out here shortly.
Digital Banking is here
Digital bank 86 400 is now offering home loans. It is the first neo bank in Australia to do so. Since digital banks have no physical branches, they allow clients to bank entirely through their phones. The upside is they are cheaper to run and easier to use. The system could take just hours to approve a loan – however, borrowers will have to go through a mortgage broker. ‘With the latest technology, a simpler operating structure, and streamlined systems and processes, we’ll be able to make savings that are passed on to our customers, and better returns for our investors,’ says chair Anthony Thompson. Thompson has had success disrupting traditional banks in the UK with neo banks Metro and Atom.
Bad NYE Hangover
Homeowners who enjoy renting out their homes over Xmas and taking a holiday somewhere need to take note. The OSR (Office of State Revenue) has an eye on busting that holiday and giving you a bad hangover. Land tax is calculated at midnight on December 31st. This has been in existence since the year dot and not just a ploy to annoy HL owners. What has changed is that the Office of State Thievery is watching the data on who is renting more than occasionally. Pinged property owners could find themselves with sizable land tax bills. You need to be aware of your UCV – Undeveloped Capital Vale. If your UCV (land valuation) is over the threshold of $629,000 then maybe stay home this Xmas and avoid a dreadful hangover. You can calculate your potential land tax bill here.
The Byron Guide
Rusty was one of a group of Americans who moved to Byron Bay in the early 1970s. Most of the dozen or so young surfers stayed on in Byron and made a huge contribution to Byron Bay arts and culture. This clique of Californians also includes Bill O’Connor of legendary hatmaker BC Hats. Another is Dan Doepel, who while searching for a venue to put on live music, opened the original Buddha Bar in the old Piggery building which now houses Byron Bay Brewery. The first-ever Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival was held at the Piggery in 1990 before morphing into the juggernaut that is now Bluesfest.
We sometimes talk about ways of creating a more cohesive civil society here in the BPS newsletter. There is no doubt that society in general needs some therapy if not a general overhaul. One new business and organisational management practice that is gaining a lot of traction is called U-Lab. The training happens in Byron and Mullum once a year and many thousands of participants do it concurrently around the world. U.Lab is a free, online course designed by thought leader, Otto Sharmer and a team at MIT, hosted on the EdX open learning platform. It is organised locally by Sourdough Business Pathway. Have a look at the overview here. I did it this year and found it interesting and worthwhile.
Long-term resident Grant Hawkins has sold his business – Byron Bay Accom. “Accommodation went from a local industry using brochures to the largest internet-based industry in the world. I enjoyed all the challenges” he says. Grant is now hanging out his shingle as a business coach. He came from an advertising background and built up and sold GHA advertising in Sydney before moving to Byron. I had a session with Grant and found it useful. He can advise on when to get in, when and how to grow and when and how to exit. He is practical and client-focused, ph 0408 462587