Around The Traps Archive

No New Loo

2023-07-04 04:32

Byron Council’s introduction of Rural Dual Occupancy has been a success. This is where rural property on acreage is allowed to build a second home but not have a second title. For council, it means they can get more residences in place without having to spend big on roads and infrastructure. For rural land owners, it is a way to provide a second dwelling for family members, friends, or tenants.

The rule used to be it needed to be 100 metres from the main house and use that same driveway. That has now been scrapped and owners can now site their 2nd home anywhere they want (STCA).

That did not help the 50 or so property owners in Ballina’s boutique Fig Tree Hill estate near Lennox Head. They have been denied from building second dwellings indefinitely owing to sewage concerns. The existing sewerage system servicing this area is not able to handle any more sewerage. There aren’t any plans to increase the network’s capacity, Ballina Council staff say because the project is considered too costly.

Old Byron Bay Images

2023-07-04 04:10

Thanks to long-term resident Kerry McDonald Baunach for putting together this website of old and gold images of Byron Bay. It’s easy to forget that Byron was not long ago a sleepy, little, coastal town where the main industry was either killing whales or cows. What happened? I have selected just a few of them here with some commentary. Thanks to ex-councillor Jan Hacket who donated a lot of the pics.


The sign we used to have entering Byron Bay before the new one was put there: Cheer Up, Slow Down, Chill Out. The new sign was put there by an independent wag and was not planned or authorised by the council. It is now very popular and council should provide a small parking bay there as it is dangerous with people stopping to take selfies.


Byron Landmark on the Jonson and Lawson St roundabout. It was the Orient for many years and home of many restaurants.


For a time in 80s the corner shop was called Get Frocked which I thought was a pretty good name for a dress shop.


This is a pic of the BB surf lifesaving clubhouse during the 1974 floods. Apparently, one of the houses on Border Street, Belongil Beach was also hanging over the edge during this storm and decided to sell for $1000 at the Great Northern on the night. The house is still standing there.


This is an aerial of the old Byron Bay meat works. It was used for whale processing as close as the 60s. It was then an abattoir and after that had a life as the Epicentre, where it was a venue and used for artist studios. John Cornell and Paul Hogan even used it to shoot a few scenes of Crocodile Dundee there. It was torn down and eventually developed into residential building lots. John Cornell and Delvene Delaney bought a chunk of it and the remaining ones have now the beachfront lots have been selling for over $20 mil.


The original Byron Bay School of Arts building was erected in 1895. It went through a variety of names and uses and the iteration pictured was after a renovation in the early 1980s. The murals were added by two local artists. The Byron Bay Community Centre we know now was completed in 2002 after nearly 20 years of fundraising. It was designed by architect Ian McKay and faced fierce opposition by opponents wanting to keep and restore the original.


An aerial of Wategos beach – probably circa 1970s. In 1933 Murray (Mick) Watego leased some of the land. He and his wife, Mary and 10 children grew bananas and other fruits and vegetables to supply local and Sydney markets. In 1961 Council put up for auction approximately 86 lots of land. The average price in 1961 was $700, and in 1970, $2320. It would take over 25 years for all of the lots to be sold and built on. The last Wategos record for a house was $22.5 mil and blocks with tear-down houses on them have sold for $5-7 mil.


A disheartening picture of a Bunjalung man – the original, and only true local resident of the time. SAY YES TO THE VOICE!

Images of Byron Bay

Endless Summer is Over

2023-04-29 03:08

Byron council last week made the wearing of leg ropes in the surf compulsory. The fine is $1100 if not wearing one. This occurred because a regular surfer at the pass, Mathew Cassidy, nearly lost a leg when hit by someone else’s runaway board.

Whether this will make any difference at all is doubtful to many locals. Most people wear leg ropes for their own convenience. Who wants to go swimming all the way to shore to retrieve it? Yes, there is a small posse of Mal riders who like to be unshackled when ‘walking the plank’. It is very rare to see no leg ropes in a big swell where a runaway board can do real damage. The issue of how they are going to police it is the main head scratch.

This is skirting around the edges of the real issue: good breaks when they are working, are now getting too crowded. Accidents will happen because there are too many people vying for the same waves. How to police that is the main dilemma. I see a day when surfers will be able to surf only after buying a ticket and having a maximum number allowed in the water. That will be interesting to police.

ABC Leg Rope Story

Tracking Housing Cheats

2023-04-28 02:08

A dilemma for any branch of government is the cost of enforcing regulations. It is easy to make new laws, but if some of the population ignores them, an LGA has to police them.

That is the case with secondary dwellings and studios that were approved a few years ago by BSC. Council contribution fees, approx $20-25K, were waived with the understanding that the infill dwellings would be used for affordable housing. It is true that many people took the money but still went ahead and listed them on the Short-Term Rental Accommodation market. This article outlines how the council is preparing to enforce these properties to be used for permanent rental, as agreed.

While they are talking about it, I wonder if they are aware of this new platform that does exactly that. is software that uses existing public and private domain data to track and find listing and leasing anomalies. The recent debate about the 90-day HL limit, yet to be decided on by the Independent Planning Commission, would do well to have had accurate data.

The Deckard name was inspired by the main protagonist in Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The book was turned into one of my all-time favourite films, Blade Runner. The character Richard Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, is a bounty hunter in the future, locating, testing, and ultimately ‘retiring’ genetically engineered humanoid beings.

BSC ruling on studios

Things to Do in May

2023-04-27 07:02

Aquarius 50 Festival

One of the things that made this region special is the Aquarius Festival held in Nimbin in 1973. Like Woodstock a bit earlier, it defined the times and a generation and many more people say they were there than really were. I was not there, I was thinking about it and decided not to go at the last minute as did not want to sleep rough.

It has been 50 years now since that seminal event and the 50-year anniversary is in full swing. It happening between the 12 – 23rd of May and you can go here for the full program.

Harvest Food Trail

Northern Rivers Food runs the successful Harvest Food Trail each year. On the weekend of the 6thth and 7th of May, you can travel to a number of fab foodie outlets and suppliers, doing tours and eating good locally produced food.

Northern Rivers Rail Trail

If you haven’t done it yet, you need to get on your bike! The Northern Rivers Rail Trail is open from Crabbes Creek to Murwillumbah and it’s fabulous. This is the perfect weather and season to be doing it. I did it with Steve from Beyond Byron E-bikes as they trailer the e-bikes to Moobal and pick them up when you have done the return trip. Allow about 4 – 5 hours for the ride and lunch. Also, dont forget to keep pushing for Byron to do their bit to finish it all the way from M’bah to Casino.

Our Byron Community Podcast

Real estate agent and long-term chair of the Byron Writers Festival, Chris Hanley, has started a podcast. He interviews local residents who have interesting stories to tell about their time in Byron. This episode talks with the architect and urban planner, Jack Dods. You can download the podcast here on Spotify or Apple Podcast

Crying Baby Festival

Unfortunately, you just missed the Crying Baby Festival which just spat the dummy in Japan in April. This festival has been running for over 400 years and involves Sumo Wrestlers holding one-year-old babies until they cry. The Japanese believe giving a baby a good cry is good for their health and longevity.

Aquarius Festival 2023

Harvest Food Trail

Beyond Byron Ebikes

Chris Hanley Podcast

Crying Baby Festival 

Digitising DAs

2023-02-26 11:57

With all the talk of AI and chat botts taking over, it seems NSW planning is going digital as well. To the consternation of many and the enthusiasm of some, processing DAs and the approval process will be handled online in the future.

Development Applications are being lodged on the Department of Planning portal and not individual councils like in the past. Once the DA is logged, stored, and a fee taken, it is then sent to the respective council for processing and (mostly) approval. In time this digitising process will probably eventuate in council staff processing DAs on behalf, and for, state planning and not under their own auspice.

Some councils in Queensland are already fully digitized. The cost-saving exercise has the potential to cut the DA process from 32 man-hours to 4. Many applicants interacting with of Byron Shire Council will be happy to see this introduced here. NSW LGAs are supposed to have a turnaround time of 40 days per DA. Byron council can take anything up to 10-12 months.

Could it be that the long delays in BSC applications are a strategy to hold up excessive development? Could it be that the state government is conducting LGA amalgamation by stealth? The cost and efficiency savings of council amalgamations looks tempting but amalgamations have turned out to be a no-go option with the electorate.

NSW E-planning strategy

Best Of Sri Lanka Tours

2023-02-26 11:35

Many readers will not be aware of my side hustle which is leading small group tours to Sri Lanka. Obviously, this venture was put into mothballs during Covid but now is a good time to resurrect it and get back on the road.

Planned for this June is the first tour I have put together following the work of famed Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa. He is an innovator and protagonist of what has become known as Tropical Modernism – polished concrete floors, white walls, dark teak posts and beams, and red tile roofs. We stay at many Bawa hotels and some signature architectural places of interest.

November is the Mountain to the Beach tour. The classic Best of SL tour as it sees the best of the tea country, the Cultural Triangle as well as relaxing and pampering at the beautiful beaches and hotels on the south coast.

Early next year I am putting together a tour for Byron locals and lovers of Byron. This will start of on the south coast at Talalla Retreat and then take a leisurely through the tea country and more.  Limited places on all of these so look forward to talking to anyone interested sooner rather than later.

Details are available on the website and click through to VEIW TOURS.

BOSL website

Parking Problems

2023-02-26 09:03

In 2010, Byron council spent $50,000 on changing the signage and rules to stop ‘rear in’ parking. These days it is ‘front in’ parking only. The complaint was that all the roadside diners were being gassed with exhaust fumes while they were eating and coffee-ing.

It seems this expensive signage is not popular with everyone. The ‘front in only’ wording is only small and at the bottom of the sign and easy to miss. Many visitors and tourists are stunned and annoyed when they get the $120 fine – also not spelled out in the signage.

Be a good host. If you see people who are not aware of the ruling and parking the wrong way, inform them of the issue before it costs them a fine.

Mon 27 February, 2023 11 PM
Michael O'G
Great idea. many of us have been doing it for years and visitors really appreciate it. Good encouragement!

Carbon Stories

2023-02-25 06:07

If you are sitting on a large parcel of rural land and wondering what to do with it, here is an idea. ZEB, Zero Emissions Byron, is compiling stories of local landowners who have been regenerating their property with forests. There are a number of grants and support systems available to help people reforest their vacant land and it is a good way to improve your land quality (and value) without a lot of expense.


Drawdown Stories

bay fm team

BAY FM Gets Top Award

2022-10-31 01:54

Our own local community radio station Bay FM got a major award for excellent programming. The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia held its national conference in Cairns last week and Bay FM was gonged for providing necessary coverage during the flood event in February and March of this year. Station President, Ange Kent as well as on-air news presenters Mia Armitage and Kate Payne were on hand to accept the award.

We need to appreciate this terrific local FREE service more. Please donate to support Bay FM at this link when you can.

Bay FM Donate

fake byron beach

Cruising with Fake Byron Beach

2022-10-26 11:48

Is imitation really the best form of flattery? The newest ship with P&O Cruises Australia’s is called the Pacific Adventure. It just arrived in in Sydney before boarding a boatload of frolickers and heading out to sea. yesterday and will be departing on her first sailing on Saturday.
There are new features like waterslides, 21 dining options including Luke Mangan’s casual poolside Burger Bar. But the stand out attraction certainly must be the “Byron Bay Beach Club”
The newly transformed ship is the cruise line’s third and final ship to join its fleet and will be homeported in Sydney year-round.

Byron Bay Beach Club 

about soil

Talk About Soil

2022-10-26 11:45

The Farm at Ewingsdale will be hosting a talk about Soil on Thursday, November 10th. It will be delivered by Matthew Evans a food writer, television broadcaster, and chef who lives and works on Fat Pig Farm in Tasmania. Tix are $38 and proceeds from tickets to this event will be donated to Northern Rivers Community Fund (NRCF) and distributed to local, regenerative farming initiatives.

Eventbrite Soil Event

fraudsters and fantasists

Fraudsters and Fantasists

2022-10-26 11:42

Byron’s growing fame and popularity obviously include a few negatives. One of them is this notoriety attracts fraudsters and fantasists. Often these characters come head-to-head with the real estate industry and buyers’ agents in particular. This article from the Doman talks about some of these individuals who circle around some of the top-end properties in Sydney.

A few years ago, a well-dressed couple with lots of bling did the rounds here. They were shown lots of properties and made all the right noises before fading off into oblivion. No one who dealt with them could figure out what kind of scam they were playing. It was probably they were just dreaming they were in the multi-million-dollar, property-buying game. This included spending money on solicitors and building reports. It would seem harmless enough but is a waste of time for those professionals involved.

Domain article

byron after floods

Build Back Better After Floods

2022-10-26 11:40

Byron Council is conducting community consultation on how to build back better after the floods. The consultation process closes on November 18 and delivers findings in December. The idea for this talkfest is to reconsider long-term planning strategies in light of the life-changing flooding we experienced in February. This is well overdue as we are still operating on decades-old LEPs and DCPs. We should have started this 10 years ago and at the pace that we move on these urgent matters I fear it will be too late when finally delivered.

After The Floods Discussion 

bike trail

Bike Trail

2022-09-02 03:49

Last month, I did another walk along the disused rail line between Billinudgel and Ocean Shores. A group of us have been exploring the track for some time and promoting bike tracks and the rail trail. Cr Asren Pugh and a few other councillors have also walked some sections. Cr Pugh then successfully motioned to the council to investigate the bike path between Mullumbimby to Wooyung – with a side trail to Brunswick Heads.

Let’s remember that Mayor Michael Lyon committed that 12 months after the election (last December) to drop the idea of returning trains to the track if the required funding did not appear. That time is nearly up so it should be time for the train enthusiasts to see the writing on the wall and get behind the Rail Trail. The same as Tweed Heads, Ballina and Richmond Shires who are already proceeding. Cr Pugh’s proposal will see a bike trail connecting Mullum to M’bah with side tracks to Brunswick Heads and Ocean Shores.

If you want to get involved and do some of these rail trail walks, ask to join David Mitchie’s FB page.

Or become a member of the NR Rail Trail Support Group.

Rail Trail
Michie’s Mad Mission
Byron (and Mullum) Masterplans About to Unfold