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.
Latest News from Around The Traps
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 offenses 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.”