Latest News from Around The Traps
Covid Catch Up
It’s time for some Vax Facts since there are lots of maybes, dunnos, who knows, who cares, out there. Also, there is lots of understandable reasons and desire to turn off from the latest COCID communication. It all gets a bit too tiresome – really.
- We currently have no active Covid cases in our area but traces have been detected in the sewerage which is a concern.
- Byron Shire’s Covid vaccination rate is trailing behind our neighbouring LGAs. The single-dose uptake is at 46.1% of adults over 15) while the double dose is 25.0%. Nearby shires are Ballina 61.4%/37.4% single/double. Lismore 50.7%/ 26.6% and Tweed 57.3%/30.6%. Be interesting to know what Mullumbimby would be? The best in the state Ku-ring-gai at 78.4%/52.4%
- Zoran Radovanovic, or Byron’s Patient Zero, is claiming he is not so bad. The Rose Bay, Sydney man was accused of flouting lockdown and driving here with his two teenage sons while knowingly being Covid positive. Not true, he claims now out of quarantine. He says he was travelling for a legitimate reason (real estate) and had no idea he was COVID positive. The real unknown remains, and no one seems to be asking, or knows the answer: if he and his sons were for so long and infectious, how come we did not become a cluster? Dunno!
- For those who like Sammy J who does the quick comedy skit on the ABC Thursday nights. He did a funny take on Byron Bay being locked down.
- With lockdown now extended till September 10, what are our chances of freedom? Our main hope may be to have the border bubble idea resurrected and become temporary Queenslanders. There was some talk of the new temporary boundary be as far south as Ballina. That is now dropped and what NR towns are lobbying for is the Tweed River. That will still keep us locked out of Qld.
- If you are a landlord wishing to give your tenant a discount or a moratorium, who can find out about government support here.
- Nyck Jeanes, the president of Bay FM, a local community radio station, has been asked to step down. It was suggested that his anti-vax and anti lockdown views were not consistent with the station’s policy. He will continue with his Friday morning radio show.
Many investment property owners are not aware of the savings that can be made by doing a proper depreciation schedule. Anh Nguyen from Duo Tax is offering BPS readers a 10% discount on the fee if they mention this piece.
Duo Tax Quantity Surveyors, explains how tax depreciation works. It can benefit your cash flow and the upkeep of your investment property. Depreciation is the wear and tear that occurs as things get older. The cost of this depreciation can be deducted from your taxable income. The majority of owners get to claim an average of $7,500 of tax depreciation in their first year alone. If you are interested, Anh can provide a free estimate on how much value resides for the first year. Use this link and Duo Tax can provide a free estimate on how much depreciation you can claim by using this link – Byron Property Search Contact Form
Vale John Cornell
John Cornell died in Byron Bay in July, after battling Parkinson’s for 20 years. He was 80. “Strop” has a massive influence on Byron during the decades he and his family lived here. Many will remember him as a philanthropist and donor to local worthy causes, as well as a TV and film producer, co-creator of world series cricket. He was a canny and astute operator in many fields.
He was the owner of a sizable chunk of Byron Bay real estate, mainly in Belongil Beach and Ewingsdale. Other successful purchases/developments include the iconic Beach Hotel. He was also owner, along with another local big media player, David Gyngel, in the Brunswick Heads Hotel.
The making and launching of “Crocodile Dundee” were heady days for Byron Bay. The Epicentre, formerly the abattoir in Belongil, was where some of the interior scenes for Croc Dundee were filmed. The launch party in 1986 was in the venue now known as the Surf Shack, which I managed to crash. When Paul Hogan married co-star Linda Kozlowski on his Possum Creek property, the eyes of the world’s media suddenly turned on our funky little town.
Some would say that Hoges and Strop made Byron what it is today, but I dispute that. Byron was already on some kind of weird trajectory when they moved here. We already had the arrival of the surfing contingent from California, Bali and Byron were already entrenched on the hippy trail. Hoges and Strop tried to do the same in the Queensland coastal town of Seventeen Seventy but it did not stick. Shirley MacLaine was in reality the first Holywood property owner here and was a purchaser here in the early 80s.
But vale John Cornell – he was a lover of Byron Bay, and Byron Bay loved him back.
Poo Power Coming to Town
Byron Council is wanting to go out on a limb with two innovative and costly projects. One is the large solar farm in Dingo Lane, beside the Manse Road Recycling facility. The other is the BioEnergy Treatment Plant. This one is planned beside Byron Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) west of the Arts and Industry Estate. Both projects are part of the package to get the council to zero carbon emissions.
You can view and provide feedback on its Development Application. It is for the construction of a fully enclosed bioenergy facility at the Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). If constructed, it will be a first-of-its-kind facility in Australia.
It is expected to generate between 3 to 4 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year. This is approximately 50-70 per cent of the Council’s total annual electricity consumption. It would reduce Council’s carbon emissions by up to 20 per cent (equivalent to taking 1,030 cars/year off the road) and remove the Byron STP from grid electricity. Excess energy feeds back into the grid.
Council’s Senior Project Manager for the bioenergy facility project, John Hart, said the facility would use dry anaerobic digestion technology to process the Shire’s residential and commercial organic waste and convert it into renewable energy and a compost product. It no longer looks or smells like poo at all.
The construction of the facility is estimated to cost between $15-20 million and Council is currently applying for State and Federal grants. Mr Hart said Council would meet its contribution towards the project from loan borrowings with no planned increase to rates or Council charges to ratepayers.
“Over 20,000 tonne a year of the region’s organic waste is currently transported to Queensland, so this facility presents an opportunity for Byron Shire to take control of its own organic waste with a local solution,” Mr Hart said.
This month’s edition was going to be about the local council elections that were happening next month. Since it has now been put back to December 4th, this focus will now happen in November.
Many people are as surprised as I was by the number of candidates throwing their hats in the ring. It is a very strong field as well and we should all appreciate these civic-minded people willing to do their bit for the community. As we all know it is lowly paid and councillors get a lot flack.
As an avid council watcher for over 30 years, this one will not be boring or bland. It is encouraging to see such a strong turnout of potential candidates. I find that truly inspiring and yet another sign of the deep and passionate connection most of us have to this place.
I encourage everyone to get more involved, or at least understand the major issues. I believe Byron Shire can no longer just coast along with business a usual attitude. We are experiencing unprecedented changes and these must be understood, managed with a clear vision of where we want to be in five or ten years.
I am a supporter of the Mark Swivel Team. Mark will make a good mayor, Meredith Wray is a keen and knowledgeable candidate. And if the cards fall well, number 3 on the ticket, lawyer-turned-farmer, Venetia Scott, would make a terrific prime minister.
You can get more information on the MST website. I also encourage all my readers who live in or love Byron to also go to the donate page and help us get the word out.
Buck “Fast Bucks” Fast Pls
At long last, the invidious influence of a certain local character is finally coming to an end. Activist and serial troublemaker John Anderson, aka Fast Bucks, has been coasting on his laurels of being a protector of the environment in the 90s for far too long. His latest party trick of invading the councillor’s area while the council was in session and looming over Cr Sarah Ndiaye was one misstep too far.
He has had a history of bad behaviour, intimidating people and causing havoc during council meetings. He is a failed councillor and was unable to complete a full term himself but still has a delusional self-belief in his own opinions. The Echo and a rapidly diminishing contingent in the community have been giving him far more respect and column inches than he deserves. At a time when there is zero tolerance for any kind of macho, belligerent, misogyny this is one old white male we can do without. Council has formerly issued Mr Anderson with a court order to not enter council chambers in the future.
It’s great to be out and about and avoiding a lockdown. Let’s enjoy ourselves with lots of winter events:
Byron Music Festival is on the 19th of June. All ages welcome and street food available. $30 per person and is on at Beachside Denning Park, Byron Bay. Hoping it does not have the incredible bad luck that Blues Fest had in April. Some headliners are: Wolfmother, Tijuana Cartel, Hayley Mary (ex Jezabells), Kyle Lionheart, to name a few.
Byron Writers Festival happens from Friday, August 6 to Sunday, August 8. It has an excellent lineup of writers to man the panels: Behrouz Boochani, Leigh Sales, Malcolm Turnbull, Benjamin Law, Min Jin Lee, Markus Zusak, Sisonke Msimang, Bruce Pascoe, and Alison Lester. It is at the same fabulous location – Elements Resort in Bayshore Drive Byron Bay. Let’s hope for fine weather.
This story came out in a few journals claiming that Land Banking was one of the reasons for our housing shortage. Land banking is where developers buy land and keep it on the shelf until the optimum time to release it onto the market. Some shires have been known to implement sunset clauses on DA approvals to stop this.
This activity may be true in Lismore and Tweed Shires as mentioned here, but I don’t buy it in Byron Shire. If you exclude West Byron and the two remaining stages of Tallowood in Mullum, then I could count on one hand the number of new releases already approved in Byron Shire. This is another furphy like stopping AirBNB is going to resolve affordable housing.
Fletcher Street Cottage
It seems the private sector is doing more for the housing sector in these difficult times than the bureaucratic public sector.
Creative Capital, the management company behind the very successful Habitat in the Byron Industrial Estate, has partnered with the Byron Community Centre. Fletcher Street Cottage is a council-owned house, behind the old library building, that has been inactive for a few years. Brandon Saul from Creative Capital and Louise O’Connell, GM of the Byron Community Centre, are volunteering their time and skills to help raise funds, redesign the space and manage renovations for the growing needs of the homeless. .
“Byron is second only to Sydney for homelessness,” says Louise. “This hub will provide much-needed services for our growing homeless, many of whom are women.”
Want to support by donating your time or money? Got a question, or just want to stay updated? Enter your email below or contact Elise at Creative Capital: firstname.lastname@example.org,
0439 982 252.
Tiny Home Village
On the 7- 9th of May, the Renew Fest will be happening at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds. There will be a selection of lots of events and activities on how to do things better. This year’s festival is partnering with Resilient Byron. The main event to many readers will be the Tiny Home Village in the arena. You will be able to see and inspect an array of alternative mobile and tiny homes. It will be happening at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds and tickets are available through the website attached.
If you want to exhibit a tiny home or portable dwelling, still not too late to apply. More info is also on the Renew fest Website.
Have a Reality Check with NRCF
The Northern Rivers Community Foundation is a well respected local organisation that has been active in the community for many years. Their annual grants program has a great track record supporting local groups and causes. The wider community owes a debt of gratitude to outgoing CEO, John Callanan (pictured). John has led the organisation for eight years and is leaving it in a very strong position. The incoming head is Nicole Weber.
To their credit, they have now recognised the dire need with the local housing crisis and have opened a special fund to focus on this issue. Many readers of this newsletter are previous clients or local property owners in the area. Many have benefited from the massive recent increase in property prices. Those that are missing out are the long term residents like musicians, artists and the casually employed who are the ones who mainly give our region its colour and flavour. These people need our support.
NRCF has made two donation options available: IMPACT NOW is a fund that will assist existing local support organisations to keep doing their vital work. LONGER TERM HOUSING SOLUTIONS will work with partners to make affordable housing a reality.
Please donate to the Housing Fund and help grow affordable and low-cost housing in our region. I have come to accept the reality that waiting for any level of government to achieve productive outcomes in this space is wishful thinking. Individuals joining together and making things happen is our best option.
Simon Richardson has been the Byron Bay mayor for 9 years and has 15 years on council in total. He retired on the 30th of April.
It is a tough job being a councillor and an even tougher job being Mayor. Simon has weathered the criticism and knockbacks better than most, but I am sure it has not been easy. His partner, Jane died of cancer in 2019 leaving Simon a single Dad of two young girls. He often came to events and functions with the two girls in tow.
It’s hard to know why local politics in this shire is such a blood sport. All four Green councillors with Simon’s leadership have done a good job under trying circumstances. As we head into the next local election in September we should reflect on whether we still want to keep doing local politics this way. The excuse that we have a committed and passionate community does not mean that we should attach people with vindictiveness and rancour.
Farewell Siman and thanks for all the fish.
Read the Fine Print
A Sydney tradie has lost his $241,500 deposit due to not fully understanding the wording of a contract. The $4.8 million deal on a luxury Sydney property fell over because the buyer, pool fence contractor Theo Alexakis, missed the payment date by two days and the sellers cancelled the exchange.
The house on a large block with waterfront views in the high-end suburb of Vaucluse was supposed to settle on April 4, 2019. The contract’s fine print stipulated the deposit balance must be paid “on the fourth month after the contract date”. The buyer assumed this would mean any day during the fourth month after the exchange.
The court found that, although the contract’s language was “awkward”, the full amount still needed to be paid before August 5, 2019. Mr Alexakis was holidaying in Greece and was returning on April the 6th. Assuming that the deposit balance could wait the extra two days meant it became a very expensive holiday.
Be A Healthy Farmer
BSC is offering a great resource that not a lot of people are aware of. Andrew Cameron is currently on staff who is there to assist people needing help with their rural properties with farming or land care. Here are a few events coming up for people to be aware of:
May 19th – Soil Biology Workshop DPI Wollongbar – The soils team at DPI will present a 2-hour workshop This is a rare opportunity to hear from this highly qualified research team Headed by Lukas Van Zwieten, Senior Principal Research Scientist Soil & Water R&D, NSW DPI, Director Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute, Program Leader Soil CRC, Adjunct Professor Southern Cross Plant Science
Adjunct Professor Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University.
Great chance to learn about spoil from the experts.
May 18 – 19 Scenic Rim QLD – Farm 2 Plate Exchange – An incredible array of Farmers Key Note speakers and food businesses who are working on ways to create a better food system. Speakers such as Charles Massey, Bruce Pascoe, Joel Salatin and other great inspirational farmers. Much learning networking and sharing to be had.
May 29 Saturday – Field Day at Red Earth Farmers Fernliegh. – Neil and Belinda are first-generation farmers that run a successful and dynamic market garden enterprise servicing a number of farmers markets in the region with a wide variety of crops specialising in flowers and bagged salad mix.
We will be joined by Sourdough Business Pathways for a discussion on local business support and the services available to help get new growers to start up, skill up and scale-up
“SOIL OUR NATIONAL CAPITAL”
A full day outlining the importance of soil and practical knowledge on how to improve it with a focus on Regenerative Grazing. There will be a wealth of knowledge to be shared with some great experts of our region a lot of who I have been mentored and studied under myself so I can testify to their strong capabilities.
Vital knowledge for anyone looking to improve their soil fertility, production and carbon-storing capabilities.
Wednesday 23rd June at Leela Farms in Myocum
Cost $27 which included morning tea, lunch and wind up drinks.
Get in Fast!
Woman Finds Secret Apartment Behind her Bathroom Mirror
Yes, this one sounds wacky and is pretty out there. A woman living in New York kept noticing a strange breeze coming out of her bathroom. Curious, she was able to see that the breeze came from behind her bathroom mirror. She and her flatmates took the mirror down and found a hole in the wall behind it.
With a big breath and a lot of courage, she climbed through the hole into the dark space behind it. Here she found a complete three-bedroom apartment, in a partial state of renovation but uninhabited. She decided this was something she should probably take up with her landlord.
Jailed Unique Estate Agent Gets Early Release
This information was provided to me by a reader and I have not been able to verify it through Professor Google. But since this newsletter sees lots of interest in this story, the information is provided here but has not been verified.
Nicolette Van Winjgaarden, the principal-agent of Unique Estates was sentenced to at least one year nine months in jail in November 2019. She was found guilty of embezzling $3.69 mil from the company trust fund. Many local residents and former employees were badly burnt in this fraud.
Apparently, she has been released 6 months early and has been living in Manly, Sydney since February.
Unique Estates established itself as a top-end agency with six agencies throughout the country. It went after many wealthy and famous clients including Chris Hemsworth and others. it seems Ms Wijngaarten decided to siphon off funds from the trust account to keep the flash cars, first-class air travel, and excessive lifestyle intact when the sales turnover was not enough. She got a reduced sentence for handing herself in and taking her medicine.
Interview With a Vampire?
I found this interesting and some readers may as well. Terry Agnew is one of the owners of West Byron development. It is easy to caricature these big-money developers as greedy, cigar-chomping philistines who take glee in stomping on local communities and eating the heads off small furry animals for breakfast.
That may be true, who knows? I am not a fan of West Byron and not keen on more brick and tile greenfield developments. I think there are better ways to deliver cost-effective housing without such an ecological cost – but planning regulations need to catch up first.
But in dealing with people like this, it would be far better to understand them and learn how they think and what drives them. The take-home is that he just seems like someone who would be open to negotiate with and get a good outcome for Byron instead of fighting it for decades and getting something no one wants. In this interview, he starts talking about Byron Bay around minute 13.
Byron (and Mullum) Masterplans About to Unfold
Byron Council gets a large amount of criticism from residents and some sections of the media. This barrage is relentless and, unfortunately, never seems to include any of the good things that council does achieve. In order to redress this imbalance, please take notice of the soon to be unfolding of plans that have been in planning for more than a few years. The volunteers of the Byron Masterplan Committee have worked tirelessly to shepherd this process through the system and need to be thanked for their efforts. Residents and neighbours need also to be thanked for some tolerance and patience while the works are carried out.
1. Sandhills Skatepark and Recreation Precinct
Behind the library and the courthouse will soon begin the $2.6 million skateparks and recreation precinct. The project has been through two rounds of community consultation since 2018 and will be put out to tender in the middle of this year. The project is being funded by the NSW Government’s Road and Election Infrastructure Commitment Grant and the Council.
2. Byron Rail Corridor
Byron Bay Rail Corridor Restoration was also expected to start in March but has probably been delayed due to rain. This project will open up the area between Lawson St and the new bus interchange to create a pedestrian and cycling link across the town centre and make what is currently a run-down, unused area accessible to the community. Plans include the creation of a boardwalk and pathways from Butler Street and the western side of the rail corridor, into the town centre and Railway Park.
Let’s hope the design and works are to the same standard as the award-winning Railway Park in Jonson Street. Also of a good standard and getting good reviews is the soon to be completed bus interchange in Butler Street. Well done Councillors, Council staff and everyone who has been involved in these two projects.
3. Mullum Greenspine Parklets
The first stage of the Mullumbimby masterplan is what is known as the Green Spine. This is to make Stuart Street a greener more landscaped thoroughfare. The second stage after this is to make Burringbar Street (the main street thru the heart of Mullum into a “Talking Street” where cars will take a back seat to pedestrians.
The first stage is two Parklets to be installed in Stuart Street, either side of the Burringbar intersection. It will look a bit like what is in the picture. I think this is a good start and look forward to the rolling out of the Greenspine. However, it behoves me why council has an aversion to engaging local providers to complete these projects. The parklets will be made and delivered by a firm on the Gold Coast to the tune of $55,000. Beats me why they cannot find talented locals to build this, using funky recycled timbers and have some Mullum style flare. This one looks pretty bland and corporate. Come on council, you can do better!
Styling For Sale
Many people are realising the benefits of styling their house prior to selling. Statistics show an average of between 3 to 17% increase in final sales price on homes that have been styled versus those who have not. On a million-dollar home that can be quite a chunk of change.
Over the years I have used home styling a number of times for my vendor advocacy clients. It can work extremely well in the right circumstances. Generally, I am against sellers spending large amounts of money prepping a home to get ready for market, but is some situations I strongly encourage making those cosmetic changes that can make all the difference between an OK sale and going OTT.
Smart Home Styling is a new company in town. Tracey says she can restyle your home without spending a lot of money by using existing furniture and accessories and just moving it around to present it better.
I have also used Cactus Hill in Mullumbimby. The retail furniture shop is on the corner of Station and Burringbar St Mullumbimby. The owners are able to use a combination of what is there and bring in a few new pieces to really show your place in the best light.
This photo has gone global around the world. It shows the amount of space used up on a city road depending upon the transport choice you use. In the image, there are 69 people, which is the number that fits in a full bus. The number of cars needed when holding 1.1 passengers. It goes to show how important alternative transport options are in decreasing traffic.
DA’s backed up
The ongoing movement of people to the shire has not only affecting property prices. It also is having knock-on dilemmas for the council. In the past, the average number of DAs (Development Applications) in progress averaged around 150. Currently, DA’s are backed up and now sitting around 400. Most LGAs (Local Governing Authorities) promise 40 days to turnaround a DA. Our shire has been flat out getting something through in 3 months and expect that to get longer.
Rural Dual occupancy’s for MOs and CTs
This is very important, Rural dual occupancy has been very successful as a way to quickly and easily get new dwellings without having to re-zone land. For some odd reason, the council have decided to disallow rural dual occupancy on Multiple Occupancy’s and Community Titles (MOs and CTs). This issue will go on public display in council next month. Everyone concerned about the dire shortage of rentals and the homeless should make a submission on this issue. Legalising dual occupancies should be an option for all rural properties. Please contribute to this discussion.
ID – Informed Decisions
BSC has access to the demographic data resources of .IdCommunity. Next month I will bring you some more info on the economic activity of the shire and how it has faired during COVID and what it looks like coming out of the pandemic.
Bypass – finally
The Byron Bay bypass was finally opened along Butler Street. This piece of well-needed infrastructure has been in the pipeline for over 30 years. I suspect that the many opposing voices about this change will be wrong that it will not make any difference. Of course, it is not a silver bullet and the Byron CBD will still have congestion issues, but, as in the masterplan, we can gradually make Jonson Street into a more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare.
Here is a previous story about Tony Narracott who was a driving force for the bypass.
Get Outa Dodge!
Some Australian real estate agents reported a spike in international enquiries during, and just after, the crazy storming of the US capital last month. Christie’s International Real Estate agent Ken Jacobs said he received more inquiries in the immediate aftermath of the riots that killed at least five people.
Expats in Britain favour Manly and Byron Bay in NSW; Noosa in Queensland; and Fremantle and Secret Harbour in Western Australia. Singapore-based buyers prefer Toorak, Glen Waverley, Hawthorn and South Yarra in Melbourne and Mosman in Sydney. Jacobs detected another reason for Australia’s popularity with wealthy Americans. “A lot of Americans think the rest of the world hates them but think there is a friendship with Australia,” Jacobs said.
Traffic changes for Byron Industrial Estate
Council is introducing a one-way traffic trial for Centennial Circuit in the Byron Arts and Industrial Estate. Anyone who visits there will know how busy and hectic those streets can get. It is set to commence on the 27 & 28 February 2021.
The trial will run for 6 months, after which Council will evaluate its success. To help them benchmark the trial, they would like your feedback on your experience of using Centennial Circuit during this period.
They want as many people as possible to take the survey. The survey is open until 26 February 2021. They will ask the same questions again during the trial to see if there has been an improvement. www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/centennial-circuit-one-way-trial.
In the week leading up to the trial, road and traffic works may be required. The Council will endeavour to avoid inconvenience to business owners and their employees as much as possible but be patient while it is being rolled out.
Hollywood actor Matt Damon has been back in town. He is to reprise his role in the upcoming Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder. The family, wife Luciana and three daughters, self-isolated for the required 14-day quarantine in a private residence in the Byron hinterland.
“I’m so excited that my family and I will be able to call Australia home for the next few months,” the actor said in a statement. “Australian film crews are world-renowned for their professionalism and are a joy to work with so the 14 days of quarantine will be well worth it. Australia definitely is the lucky country, and I can’t wait to show my family Australia’s down to earth people, breathtaking scenery and diverse culture.”
Of course, the location of where they were staying was kept private. I have had personal experience with being “Papped” and it is not fun. Once, with a well-known, but a very private client, I had the experience of being followed, photographed by a hidden camera and photo published in a trashy global paparazzi magazine. Byron locals are pretty chilled and laid back about celebrities in our midst and let’s keep it that way. My one interaction with paparazzi and the celebrity media has given me compassion and understanding of life under the microscope.
Also Starring in Iso
Actor Mark Wahlberg also spent 14 days in quarantine at a private $2500 a night property in Byron Bay last month. He was initially sceptical about self-isolation but is now a fan. “I respect the rules because they keep Australia safe and open. That’s why people don’t really have to wear masks, restaurants are open, gyms are open… I went and visited an F45,’ he revealed. “You guys really handled it well. I really take my hat off to Australia and how they handled the pandemic.’ Unfortunately, Mr Wahlberg is here to film an ad for online betting agency Ladbrokes. These betting ads are something I really hate and the main reason I rarely want to watch free to air TV anymore.
Getting Along With Bats
As a buyers agent, there is always something new and different to learn. Especially with rural land and properties. I have learnt to ask my clients to use a local conveyancer as city solicitors are often flummoxed with local flora and fauna issues. One that was interesting that came up recently was how to handle bat colonies nesting on your properties.
Fortunately, we don’t eat bats, in fact, they are strictly protected. This is not always ideal when bats and humans have to co-habit in close proximity. I recently did a purchase for a client where there was a nesting bat colony for part of the year. It took on an extra level of complexity to ensure that the construction or humans are not going to interfere too much with bats. Summer sunsets can be lovely to watch the swarms of bats flying out of their colonies looking for food.
I was interested to see the same is true in the UK as well. This week, it was Australian actress Cate Blanchett’s turn, with news sources reporting that she’s been told that she can have her new meditation space, so long as she first rehouses a colony of endangered bats. Surveyors recently discovered the bats making their home in a dilapidated building on her East Sussex estate. Now she not only must rehouse them, but she will have to incorporate a ‘bat loft’ into the design for her new garden office, studio, and a meditation room in case they return.
It is good to see that humans, and regulations, are shifting to accommodate other species on the planet. The days of just bulldozing through and doing what you want with nature is now in the past.
Council Round Up
Lot 22 Approved
Byron Shire Council, during the last meeting for November, unanimously passed the approval to proceed with Lot 22 in South Mullumbimby. This development model will include small modular dwellings on what is known as a Land Lease Community. Council will remain owners of the land and receive a land lease from residents who will own the dwelling. It seems like Simon Richardson wants to this project to be one of his signature achievements.
Rural Dual Occupancy
On the other side, council staff were able to convince councillors not to proceed with allowing Rural Dual Occupancy on CT (Community Title) and MO (Multiple Occupancy) properties. RDO has been an outstanding success on rural properties that it is a shame this cannot be extended to other rural acreage properties as well – especially considering it is one of the few ways of providing more low-cost housing quickly instead of taking years.
Approval of RDO on MOs and CTs should be based on the capability of each site and merit. For decades MOs have made a strong contribution to housing in the shire. They also often assist with associated ‘living’ costs such as a supportive social structure and space for food growing. Habitat restoration is often a feature of this form of settlement. This could be a missed opportunity by the council to allow more dwellings without the usual overdevelopment drama.
Film Industry Update
A bit of clarity around the recent kerfuffle that happened last month and the gridlock due to the film production blocking Bangalow Road. The production of Nine Perfect Strangers, produced and starring Nicole Kidman, had arranged to block a section of Bangalow Road. Unfortunately, another department with council had organised to complete the bitumen on the Byron Bypass on the same day which meant that the two main entrances to Byron town were blocked at the same time.
As you know, this column likes to give credit to council when it does something right. But this situation was caused mainly due to council departments not talking to each other. This happens a lot it seems. Council departments are too heavily siloed and staff do not get up from desks and talk to other officers about things that are going on.
In this case, the film production had their part organised and locked in since August. No one from council knew or discussed their decision to block the Butler St bypass on that day. The film production had a bypass organised through Coopers Shoot but there was no communication to the public to inform them of this.
Film and TV is a growing and important industry in this area. We need more well paying, quality work to offset the predominance of tourism. We have many residents who are involved in the creative industries and film and TV professionals is an important part of this. Council needs to get it together and manage these productions better so the public is not so inconvenienced and want to ban them.
As Byron Shire moves from housing stress to the housing crisis and now housing catastrophe, some community groups are taking action. One Roof Byron is a grassroots organisation tackling involuntary homelessness. They will be holding there AGM and the completion of their first Tiny Home. The AGM and Tiny House Party is on Sunday 6th at 1/24 Towers Drive Mullumbimby.
Also, a new organisation has formed called the Woman’s Village Collective. This a grassroots movement of more than 700 local women, many of who are single parents, calling for action to address the current housing insecurity and looming homelessness facing women in the Northern Rivers. This group is They are holding an Urgent Housing Crisis Solutions Forum on Wednesday 16th December between 12 – 2 PM at Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club.
Of course, there is a number of protest against development as well. Residents at Brunswick Bayside are against the Kollective’s plan to build a boarding house and shops in this residential area. I understand peoples desire not to get too crowded out by overdevelopment. However, Byron Shire has less medium density than any other NR shire and there is such an extreme housing crisis at the moment. Everyone will need to give a bit.
Need Help With Farming?
Farming and specialty produce is a growing industry in the shire. Council has now appointed an Agricultural Extension Officer to help with your journey of developing your property to be a healthier, productive and profitable piece of land.
Andrew Cameron’s brief is to assist you with all your issues around improving your land and farming practices. He has set up a number of small-scale regenerative farms. You may have recognised him at local farmer’s markets as Possum Creek Farm, Byron Creek Farm and Byron Grass-Fed. He has worked in creating regenerative food systems and then building respected brands to sell produce to local top restaurants, farmers markets, retail stores as well as online and delivery.
Andrew is offering free on-farm site visits to farming enterprises that are looking to be more productive and sustainable, and to identify the major pressing issues and struggles and then create solutions to tackle these. For enquiries or to book a free on-farm consultation please contact our Agricultural Extension Officer on 02 6626 7223 or email – email@example.com
The Rise of the Red Zones.
The only foreseeable calamity that could be facing Australia’s indominatable property prices is rising insurance premiums. In the near future it may become economically inappropriate to insure many homes against fire and flood. Here are two websites where you can go and see if you are in a suburb where insurance premiums may become difficult.
Michie’s Mad Mission
Local Byron resident David Michie is on a mad mission. He is clearing the railway line by hand and is happy to get help. He has done a few kilometres already and is posting pics as he goes on his FaceBook page. This is also a great page to keep a track of what is going on in Byron. David has been a part of the Byron Masterplan group.
If you are a supporter of the Rail Trail, also linked below is the petition to NSW parliament to extend the Rail TRail from Bentley to Eltham. It only takes 30 seconds.
Local Bangalow architecture firm DFJ has won lots of kudos this year. Principal, Dominic Finlay Jones, has assembled an impressive team and almost got a clean sweep with Architecture Australia awards. The firm won the top spot for New Residential House with Coolamon House, Residential House Renovations with Neal and Shirley’s 1950s home in Tweed, Multiple House with Easy Street at Habitat.
It needs to be said what a success the Habitat development on Bayshore Drive, Byron, has been. Like many things in Byron Shire, it took a long time to create – 11 years to get the DA approved. It is obvious that this kind of Live/Work environment is what the public wants. There should be more of it. Well done DFJ!
Slow Train Coming
Looks like the momentum towards the NRRT (Northern Rivers Rail Trail) is finally moving towards the logical outcome. Anyone who has inspected long portions of the disused railway line will see that Multi-Use (Rail Trail and Light Rail) will not be possible without a humongous injection of funds. There are too many culverts, tunnels, bridges and gullies. Much of the raised section (ballast) was built by digging up fill from either side. This would need to be filled in to get a walking/bike track on the side.
A single line light rail will never be anything other than a dinky tourist activity. Interest, however, is increasing for the long-term vision of planning for a Byron to Mullum VLR (Very Light Rail) with new villages along the line. Please see the accompanying article.
Land for Industrial Estates
Drive through the Byron Arts and Industry Estate and you will see how busy it has become. Unfortunately, many of the parked cars are not just workers as many units have been converted into studios. The powers that be have been up against the wall of late trying to solve the problem of where to place more industrial land. The BILS (Business and Industrial Land Strategy) has now been passed by NSW state planning so, at last, things are progressing. Many of the successful local businesses (Byron Bay Cookies, Stone and Wood, Brookfarm, etc) have been crying out for space to expand and some have even considered leaving the shire.
Byron Arts and Industry Estate has no land to expand to, but across the road at West Byron (if it happens) has 7.5 Ha of land slated for industrial. Mullumbimby, Billinudgel and Bangalow industrial estates have some space that they can expand to. But a new area known as Gulgan East and West is also under consideration. This is flat land near the Blues Fest site (East Gulgan) and the large empty paddock south of Gulgan Road as you exit the Mullumbimby turnoff (West Gulgan). There is also a portion of land on Saddle Road Brunswick Heads under investigation for Business Park (Creative Industry offices). This land was originally earmarked for the Brunswick Eco Village. Somehow, and for some reason, this property has become very political and has coordinated opposition against it being developed.
Byron Shire is experiencing a big influx of people wanting to set up SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises). The idea of providing space for them and creative industries is necessary. We need to diversify from being a predominately tourist town. Also, local kids can find interesting rewarding work instead of cleaning Airbnbs and being baristas.
Life in a Film Set
BPS has been super busy this month. As well as the usual property search workload we have also been doing location search for one of the four major film and TV productions happening in the shire. For the next two months in Mullum and Bruns, you may well see the hustle and bustle of white trucks, lights and cables, hipsters with clipboards. This production is called Seriously Red and is a: highly original Australian feature film produced by Dollhouse Pictures & Robyn Kershaw Productions. The film is a celebration of identity and being the best version of yourself with an Australian and international cast. A highlight of the film is the underground world of the ‘Copy Club’. Its’ a lush world of expressive costume, glamour & kitsch where anything goes – think Studio 54 / Pose ( TV Series)
The main location is the Brunswick Picture House, which doubles as the Copy Club, where “copy” or tribute artists get to perform. What a great venue this has turned out to be. Many top-level national performers choose it to be an out of town tryout venue before taking a show on the road. It is an ideal venue for this particular production as well, being full of character and charm.
Looks like Byron shire will be a choice location for future productions as well. With solid plans afoot for a dedicated film studio in Ballina. As well as stunning locations, we also are home to a large number of industry professionals. These productions have been an injection of funds into the community but they also bring issues as well. Cast and crew need to stay somewhere and this is only exacerbating our already dire housing and rental shortage. Some find it an imposition and it is interesting to hear more than a few locals would rather have the limelight shine elsewhere. It is important that the producers and crew on the front line remain courteous and respectful of locals and not steamroll over what already exists here.
Baby Boomers don’t retire, they just no longer turn the volume up to 11. There has been a lot of discussion about new retirement options since the Royal Commission into Aged Care. This article is interesting as it outlines some of the options to how retirement living could look in the future.
The Kollective in Brunswick Heads
The Kollective is planning to soon lodge a DA for major housing development in Bayside, Brunswick Heads called the Corso. It is being referred to as a boarding house, see thecorsobrunswick.net.au. Community consultation meetings took place on Monday 14th September 2020, prior to a Council DA being lodged. The Boarding House comprises 48 rooms, with each room accommodating a bathroom, kitchen, living area, sleeping area, and a private courtyard/balcony to each room.
Bad Blood at the Beachie
A previous owner of Byron’s iconic Beach Hotel is now facing legal issues with inappropriate usage of funds. Melbourne-based investor and race car driver, Max Twigg, lost a lengthy court battle in which he was sued by his mother, Diane, and sisters, Frances and Elizabeth. Justice Michael Ball handed down his judgment in the NSW Supreme Court on August 31. The court heard Mr. Twigg had committed “breaches of trust”. After his father, William Twigg, passed away in 1996, Max Twigg then began managing the companies within the Twigg Group. But his mother and sisters were shareholders and kept in dark with many of the purchasers.
When the Twigg Group sold to Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd for $155.8 million in 2007, Mr. Twigg gave his mother and sisters a $5 million “gift” each. Max Twigg purchased the “Beachie” for $44 mil in 2007 and sold it 10 years later to Impact Investment Group for $70 mil.
The Beach Hotel is an iconic Byron Bay institution. Its interesting history in many ways reflects the growth and changes of the town itself. Read about the amazing story here.
Australia Slips in Growth Ranking
Australia slipped to 19th in the world for house price growth for the year to June 2020, according to the Knight Frank Global House Price Index Q2 2020.
In the same report for Q1, Australia had ranked 10th.
But it was still up 37 places from one year ago, when we were 56th, with negative growth over the previous 12 months of -7.4 per cent.
Topping the charts was turkey, whose 12 months change was up 25.7 per cent, with 11.2 per cent over the last quarter. New Zealand was the best-performing country in the Asia Pacific, with a growth of 9.1% over the past year, but it slipped in the rankings from 2 to 11 between March and June.
Off Grid Power Research
Researchers at the University of Wollongong are conducting a research project to examine the social, technical and economic opportunities for the deployment of alternative electricity supplies such as microgrids and stand-along power supplies (SAPS) in fringe-of-grid applications.
You are invited to participate in this research by way of a semi-structured interview that will explore household understandings and experiences of microgrid / stand-alone power supply energy provision. The interview will take 45-60 minutes to complete.
Council Looks For Joint Venture partner
Council owns a large piece of commercial land on Bayshore Drive in the Byron Arts in Industrial Estate. They are looking for development partners to deliver contemporary and innovative commercial development on the site.
The EOI documentation will include more detail on the Council’s vision and objectives. They do not want residential and are thinking of something ecological, educational, innovative and creative. TAFE will be the cornerstone tenant.
Interested parties will need to register on the council website link below. It is an easy process, and anyone who is interested is best to register on the Public Marketplace, within the Real Estate & Property Services category, for Property Development Services.
Paleo Pete’s Commune
Peter Evans, was previously the co-host of My Kitchen Rules and moved to Byron Bay last year. He sold his multi-million dollar property in Sydney and is now opening a wellness centre at the Habitat. Evans is also known as Paleo Pete and is notorious for unconventional views around diet and health issues, conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination.
The “holistic” land-sharing community he is promoting promises a return to “tribal living” but has been knocked back by the local council. Tweed Shire Council voted on September 17 not to grant consent for upgrades to the access road for the planned “Nightcap On Minjungbal” at Mt Burrell, west of Uki.
The company involved owns the 1400-hectares. A share in the company grants the shareholder a 1ha allotment that is currently for sale for $275,000. The mayor said: “It was premature. Any developer that sells pre-DA allotments without approval is taking a risk”. “Nightcap On Minjungbal” sits behind Mount Warning where the developers intend to sell 867 dwelling sites. It has a high bushfire risk zone which was another concern with the plan.
In a promotional video fronted by Pete Evans, Sydney financier and property developer Derek Zillman, who is one of the directors of the company behind Nightcap said: “We have had people who have bought in from Germany, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and NSW.” Pete Evans says of the planned community in the promotional video: “Self-reliance, self-empowerment, connection to the earth, connection to spirit, connection to each other. There’s not much else to say except, I am f…ing in. I’m f…ing in.”
With credit to News Journalist Jane Hansen.
Look out for Smoke and Wriggly Things
Spring has arrived this month, and while we welcome the warmer days, some homeowners are already finding snakes where they’d rather not. According to WIRES* CEO Leanne Taylor, snakes are far more prevalent during the spring and summer months, and especially when they are coming out of winter hibernation. Generally, they are placid creatures and if left alone will invariably disappear of their own accord – in fact, they are quite possibly just ‘passing through’ your yard in search of water or food.
Last week I was driving through the roundabout at the Cavvanbah Centre on Ewingsdale Road. I just missed a black snake trying to navigate the crossing. I was most impressed to see all the cars in my rearview mirror also take care to miss it. This is so much better than when I grew up in the outer suburbs and the immediate response to seeing a snake was to kill it.
Also, watch out for farm fires but don’t be alarmed. This time of year is when sugar cane farmers do a quick burn off prior to harvesting. These fires go up quickly and die down quickly. The RFS gets many calls this time of year that are false alarms. Cane burn-offs often happen in the late afternoon and are more smoke than fire. The farmers involved are well-practised at keeping them under control.
Last month we bought you the story on how we are being invaded by actors and production crew. There is the big $100 mil production led by Nicole Kidman, doing one of author Lyanne Moriarty’s bestsellers “Nine Perfect Strangers”, and being shot in Ewingsdale. The couple is staying at the $50,000 a week retreat The Range in Picadilly Hill.
There is also the 6 part series for Hulu as well as a low budget surfing feature. Sorry, we forgot to mention that Costa the ABC Garden Guru is also in town. He is here filming a kids show about maths with globally successful TV animation producer Kate McQuillan, creator of Dirt Girl World.
And if that was not enough …. there is more. Will Gammon is a seriously successful animation producer based in Byron Bay. He and his team of animators, now working out of the Byron Arts and Industrial Estate, have been involved in a number of Hollywood blockbusters as well as the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series. He is now working with the Ballina Council on the idea of using some council-owned land near the airport to transform into film and TV studios.
Bringing Back the Big Scrub
BPS has always been a strong supporter of private landholders doing their own bush regeneration. There is a lot more of this going on than most people realise. Filmmaker and author Oren Siedler also has a passion for bush regen. She has been a strong supporter of the trend of private landholders planting native timbers and hopes to see the Big Scrub slowly come back. She began documenting this quiet revolution over ten years ago. “I was commissioned to film the stories of several largescale planting projects and the people on the ground getting their hands dirty planting the trees. I soon realized I wasn’t only following incredible re-afforestation stories, but a holistic movement towards an exciting sustainable future for the region.” Contact Oren if you would like to your bush regen project documented.
Tweed Council backs Affordable Housing
Tweed Councillor Ron Cooper has managed to get the council to back his proposal for an affordable housing scheme. The 4/3 vote approved the idea of spending $20,000 on a concept to build an affordable housing community at Wardrop Valley Road. Some councilors are for the concept but against the location as it is away from infrastructure and public transport.
Many of our neighboring shires are already streets ahead in delivering affordable accessible housing options to their residents. Clarence Valley Shire (Grafton) has been developing and owning low-cost housing for some time and have many dwellings in their portfolio. Please read the accompanying article in this issue.
Tony Narracott’s Eye
This is a good time to remember Tony Narracott. Tony was a huge advocate for Byron Bay who passed away in 2007. One of the most memorable events at this time was his living wake – a huge party at the Byron Golf Club when he knew he was going to die of lymphatic cancer. He was a mover and shaker for many good causes and one of them was the Byron bypass. I was reminded recently of Tony’s Eye. This is a rugby football filled with his ashes and an eye painted on it and filled with his ashes. This “eye” has been placed above the old Byron railway station to keep watch and make sure the Byron bypass is completed. With the bypass nearly ready its a good time to remember Tony, all his good works and efforts, and be glad his watchfulness has been rewarded.
When the bypass is completed it will be time to roll out some of the town centre improvements outlined in the plan. Jonson Street will become more pedestrian-friendly and other changes can happen that were dependent on the bypass. The Byron Masterplan Guidance Group is currently calling for Expressions Of Interest for six new members. If you think you would like to contribute to this worthwhile group see the link below.
My Kitchen Rules celebrity chef Pete Evans and model turned nutritionist wife Nicola Robinson, are making quite a splash in town. Evans and Robinson are opening a healing clinic at the Habitat in Byron Bay Industrial Estate. Mr. Evans has controversial views including being an anti-vaxxer and theories around diet that has him dubbed as “Paleo Pete”. He is also promoting (in a MAGA cap) a hippy commune on the Nightcap Range near Nimbin that went bust a few years ago. A case of mixed messages?
Man about town is Hollywood heartthrob, Zac Efron. The star of High School Musical is apparently in love with Byron. He has extended his tourist visa for another 9 months and has even made a bid on a house. But even Hollywood heartthrobs don’t get it all their own way – he was outbid.
Just moving into new digs in Carlyle St Byron Bay is Josh White. He is the CEO and founder of sports and entertainment marketing agency Lampoon Group. On their management books are cricket superstar Ellyse Perry, former rugby international and TV star Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins, and Olympian Jessica Fox.
Dan Single, the founder of fashion house Ksubi, has moved from Sydney to Byron. The well-known style entrepreneur has had a few difficult years. He continues to recover from a fall from a Paris hotel balcony in 2017, and he’s making a clean slate after a recent split from his girlfriend, Bambi, after four years.
Last year we bought you a follow-up story on the Vanity Fair piece on local Instagram influencer Courtney Adamo. The article detailing her cushy, pastel life went viral and she was on the receiving end of a lot of criticism. The trolls argued that no one’s life could be that perfect – even with a fab house in Bangalow, five perfect kids, and an adoring hubby. Oh, don’t forget the massive family trust fund. Ms. Adamo went quiet for a while, and now with COVID the life of an Insta influencer is not what it was. But to her credit, Adamo has surfaced again, posting, giving interviews. Living well in Byron seems to be the best revenge!
The Fed Sheds
This is an interesting new planned development for Federal. The Fed Sheds proposal is for three multipurpose sheds providing space for artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs. The aim is to build a creative community, incubate small businesses, share knowledge and experience and help people to develop their ideas and showcase their product. It is proposed to be on the 4000 M2 site on the corner of Federal Drive and Coachwood Court.
Affordable Housing Strategy
Our Council often pays expensive out of town consultants to do reports. This one from Echelon Planning in Melbourne outlines the various options we have to introduce a mix of affordable housing options into the shire. Regular readers will know that I am continually banging on about this. We need more people to read this so a sensible discussion can be had about this crucial issue. You can go to this website and download the document.
Byron and the Banks
LMI is Loan Mortgage Insurance and protects the bank or funder against loan defaults. Mortgage lender CBA has increased their LMI insurance free deposit amount from 20% to 30% for new purchasers in postcode 2481. This is a panic reaction by the bank under the assumption that Byron businesses and owners of holiday let properties will be adversely affected by tourism numbers down post-COVID. A new buyer with less than a 30% deposit will have to capitalise this insurance fee on to their loan amount which increases the amount of the loan.
Speaking of mortgage rates: loans.com.au is now the second funder in Australia to offer a fixed rate below 2%. Bank of Us, in Tasmania, is also offering a fixed rate for one year of 1.99%, which then diverts back 2.75% after the introductory 12 months. Rates under 2% have been the lending equivalent of the four-minute mile.
Mullumbimby Masterplan Update
The first stage of the Mullumbimby Master Plan is about to be rolled out. Due to budgetary constraints, the actions of the plan will only be implemented as money becomes available. You can see the idea of the Mullum Green spine here and have your say. The bigger items planned for Mullum will be turning Burringbar St into a pedestrian-friendly “talking Street”. Through-traffic will be diverted down Tincogan and Fern street so that only slow, emergency and delivery vehicles will use Burringbar Street. Another idea on the drawing board is a walking track around the town.
Regions Do Well Post-COVID
This newsletter also includes a full article from Domain outline the rush from the cities to Byron. If you want more facts and graphs about the move to the regions post-COVID, here is a report from CoreLogic that gives some more information and data on the COVID induced move from the city. This topic is also dealt with in this whole article in this edition.
Eltham Pub Gets a Makeover
Ready to host a Post-COVID breakout is the beautiful old Eltham pub. Local travel influencer from The Vista, Julia Ashwood, and builder husband, has done a major reno on the 100-year-old building. It is open now with COVID limitation but could be well worth a visit. Each of the guest rooms are modeled using the stories and imagery of the local ladies from the past – with a bit of romance spice to liven it up.
But please don’t do this to the Biliundudgel Pub. The Billi should be kept forever in its ramshackle old-world charm. It’s a bit of our past we should keep reminding us of how it once was.
Get ready for another onslaught of film and TV type people in town. Three new film and TV projects will begin filming in Byron in August. The big one is the $100 million production of Nine Perfect Strangers starring and produced by Nicole Kidman. This is the follow on to the huge international success of Big Little Lies. Sydney writer, Lianne Moriarty, has penned these two, and a string of successful dramas. Nine Perfect Strangers chronicles the weird and wonderful events that occur on a rural spiritual retreat – how appropriate for Byron! It will be filmed at the Soma Retreat in Ewingsdale pictured above.
Nicole and hubby Keith Urban were allowed to self-isolate in their southern highlands home at their own expense instead of a hotel. The other projects include a 6-part mini-series for streaming platform Hulu and a low budget feature film. If you think you have a great location and happy to have people yelling Camera Lights Action there, you can register your property here.
Sothesby’s Comes to Town
International prestige real estate brand, Sotheby’s will be opening up in Byron Bay and Tweed. Queensland Sotheby’s International Realty agent Dominique Vasers Williams intends to build the new agency from scratch. Sotheby’s only other regional shopfront is in Port Douglas.
Let’s hope it does not follow in the footsteps of the last two prestige brands in Byron. Nicolette Van Wijnngarten is currently a resident of Her Majesty’s ‘Big House’ after being found guilty of using the Unique Estates trust fund for a personal piggy bank. In 2013, Sarah Dougan formed a Belle Property agency and left the country with debts of over $30 mil, and a trail of tears.
As I have said many times in this newsletter, the vast majority of agents I deal with, in my daily activities while helping my clients, are nothing but honest and astute. I am sure the stats are about the same as most other industries but REAs continually have a bad reputation with the public and that is unfortunate.
Video Killed the Real Estate Agent
As well as working from home, video inspections are now the norm in a post COVID world. Look out for the new 3D online video clips coming to an agency near you. Some of the bigger agencies in the cities now employ a full-time videographer. This trend will soon stretch to the rental market as well. More info in this article. Also of interest in this area is online auctions. One has been ongoing for a property in McAuley’s Lane Myocum and is discussed in the Hot Property section which you can read here.
This has been a time for all the community to pull together and support each other. There are lots of worthy causes around that are worthy of support, here are just a few for your consideration. Please help if you can:
Byron Community Pantry
The Byron Community Pantry has been in operation to help care for people doing it tough during COVID. Not only are there people living rough here but there are many international travelers who have been stuck here due to travel restrictions. The Byron Community Pantry has been providing up to 60 households each week with a week’s worth of groceries. In early May, the Byron Community Centre gave out a record of 1000 meals in just one week! This is a combined effort of Liberation Larder, Byron Community Pantry, and the Homeless Breakfast Hub.
Anyone who has been passing by the Uncle Tom’s Corner (Gulgan and Mullumbimby Road) on the way to Mullumbimby will see the work being done on the Mullum Gateway site. The old rotunda and the totem sculptures are being moved, renovated, or replaced. Have a look at the video on the website and see what is happening. The Gateway has always been an iconic, unique spot in the shire. You can make a tax-deductible donation and help finish this work as they are just a bit short in completing it. mullumbimbygateway.com
Northern Rivers Community Foundation
If you are new to the area, or been here a while, and need a way to get more involved, meet interesting people and help the community, you could do no better than getting involved in the NRCF. This community organisation has been productive and active for many years and does excellent work assisting many of the necessary community groups and Not For Profits. In 2020, the program has been changed to the Recovery and Resilience Grants Program. Grant applications close on August 17 and you can find out more here.
What’s new news with our beloved Byron Shire Council:
Amnesty for illegal dwellings
Council is to pass a proposal that will allow illegal dwellings a new approval process. There is to be a moratorium for 15 months starting from June 15. The Unauthorised Residential Accommodation Policy will aim to resolve the large number of people living in unapproved structures. Council is in a difficult bind trying to uphold the law and provide enough safe, hygienic homes for people – especially at this time with a housing affordability crisis. It would not be a good look if the council starts throwing people out of their homes. If you have an illegal structure and want to get it approved have a look at the details here.
Bed Tax is Just Sleeping
The Voluntary Visitor Tax (VVT) had another setback last month in council. The VVT is better known as the Bed Tax and has been an idea waiting to happen as long as I can remember. The concept is that since we have almost two million visitors a year and there is no way for them to contribute directly to help fund the myriad of ways they are a cost to the coffers – toilet cleaning, road maintenance, public safety, park upkeep. Introducing a bed tax or levy on accommodation is a good way for visitors to keep Byron Beautiful. Unfortunately, it cannot be mandated through the state legislature so it must be voluntary. It is a difficult thing to introduce and the matter was deferred at a council meeting but let’s hope the councilors persevere and this idea is one day implemented.
Have your Say
One of my pet peeves is that many locals get upset with the council only when construction or rezoning happens. Community Consultation is part of BSC’s process and residents are able to participate in the process and make comments at the planning stage. Go to the Have Your Say section of the BSC website and make your feelings and preferences known at the appropriate time. The big ones worth looking at right now are the Residential Strategy (what land will be rezoned for more housing – always controversial), the North Byron Flood mapping, and the Mullumbimby and Bangalow Master Plans. Get on board and have your say now at the appropriate time, instead of just when the machinery starts.
Tyagarah Beach and the Birthday Suit
Let’s hope the ongoing dilemma at Tyagarah Beach is resolved. The tea tree lakes and beach at the end of Grays Lane, Tyagarah has been clothes-optional for close to 20 years. Most of those years have been placid and controversy-free. Then it seemed to get some online notoriety as a gay beat and venue for sex pests.
There seems to be enough effort put in by people who wanted to keep the beach family friendly. The beach had a surf life-saving patrol over Xmas and most of the school holidays. That was a good idea (thanks Cr Sarah Ndaiye) and seemed to do some good. Anyone who wants to maintain the beach as a CO venue and keep away the idiots – should put their bare ass (or clothed) on the sand whenever possible and keep it for the community instead of surrendering it to visiting deviants.
Colours of the Year 2020
Attention all decorators and home renovators. Taubman’s Paints have selected their colour of the year to be “Night Watch: “Encompassing the tones of a dense tropical forest, Night Watch is a natural shade that is chic, effortlessly timeless, and destined to be a favourite in both the home and workplace given our urge to reconnect with nature in today’s tumultuous society.”
Not to be outdone is Pantone. Their colour of the year for 2019 is “Living Coral”. Pantone suggests the colour balances the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into our daily life: ‘Living Coral welcomes and encourages light-hearted activity, symbolising our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, and embodying a desire for playful expression’. So there you go!
Unique Estates Principal Fronts Court
Nicolette Van Wijngaarden appeared in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney last Thursday. The former principal of luxury real estate agency, Unique Estates, is facing 10 charges of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, and five charges of being an accessory to offences committed by a corporation.
Ms. Wijngaarden has surrendered both her Australian and Dutch passports. This trial hearing was to determine whether the case will go to trial. The business is owing $3.5M in debt and Ms. Wijngaarden is facing up to 10 years jail. She is currently living in Elwood, Melbourne and has to report once a week to St Kilda Police station.
Let’s Get Together
Local lawyer, comedian, author, and man about town, Mark Swivel, is having a run at federal parliament. He will be running for the Senate in the election later this year – probably May. He has started a political party called “The Together Party”. Mark’s book is called “Let’s Make Australia Slightly Better Than Average Again” is quite a good read – smart and funny with a good synopsis of what’s wrong with politics and some ideas on how to fix it.
The Together Party is putting on a conference in Mullumbimby the weekend of February 15 and 16. Please come along if you want to get involved, or just attend some of the interesting discussions being held.
NSW Biennial Land Valuations 2020
The NSW Valuer-General just released the latest official land values. The office of State Revenue follows the property price trends. Every two years, this government department releases the land valuations on what landowners (who own more than their own owner-occupied properties) have to pay land tax.
Residential land values increased by 4.4% over the year, nationally. This compared with a 14.1 percent rise in the previous year. Land values are for the value of the land only, as of 1 July 2018. Rural NSW land values increased overall by 14.3% due to continued demand. One of the biggest increases was in Ku-Ring-Gai local government area where residential land values increased by 22.5%, as well as mixed-use premises along the Pacific Highway (45.8%). The Sydney Eastern Suburbs region saw its strongest increases in the local government areas of North Sydney and Mosman, which showed 14.4% and 11.2% increases respectively.
Zero Emissions Byron Fundraiser
Zero Emissions Byron is a local organisation on a mission to reduce Byron Shires carbon emissions to zero by 2025. They are holding a fundraiser event on Saturday night February 9th. It is sponsored by Australian Ethical, Brookfarm, and Spell and the Gypsy Collective. The award-winning documentary “Mountain” will be screened, and a raffle with some major prizes will be drawn. Have a look at the “Mountain” trailer which looks spectacular.
Opposite Uncle Tom’s Pies on Gulgan Road is the Mullumbimby Gateway. This installation greets our visitors as a special place to commemorate the biggest little town in Australia. Richard Mordaunt was part of the original crew who put it together in 1988. He and his partner Diana used to run the art gallery in Mullum above the news agency.
Mordaunt says the aim of the project is to “bring the whole site back to life, repair the totems and the town sign, re-stand the standing stones with new plantings across the site. There will be interpretive boards with local history, linking it with the town. It is public safe space for youth and locals waiting for pickups and rideshares and there will be a new pathway from the bus drop off to the gazebo.” Local state MLA Ben Franklin is behind the project and is looking for funding. Other contributors can go the website for tax-deductible donations – https://mullumbimbygateway.com.
Byron Tops Domain’s List
Domain just released the nine best holiday homes to stay in for a long weekend. Byron Shire, of course, won the two top spots:
#1 was The Chalet in Kingsley Street, Byron
It is billed as Palm Springs meets Byron and was recently featured in Vogue Living. Classic white interiors open on to a large backyard complete with a pool and cactus garden and an outdoor shower. It rents for $995 per night.
#2 was the Magical Rainforest Retreat in Main Arm
Domain’s blurb for the property reads: “If heading off the beaten path is more your cup of tea, then why not book a long weekend at this secluded rainforest retreat. Whether you planning a romantic getaway or in need of some much needed “me” time, you’ll need to cross a fairy light-adorned bridge in order to enter this magical cabin, located within an enchanting 9.7-hectare property. For extra relaxing points, there’s a swinging basket chair hanging over the creek to enjoy.”