Brunswick Heads resident Sean O’Meara knows the street named The Terrace intimately.
The house his father still lives in has been in the family for four generations, and every member of those four generations has enjoyed unfettered access to the delights of swimming, fishing and canoeing in the river at the end of the street for the past 100 years or more.
Now residents reel in disbelief as not only has this simple pleasure that had been their lives for so long been taken away from them, but also their days and nights frequently turn into hell with a barrage of noise.
It all began two years ago when the Lands Department removed Byron Shire Council as manager of The Terrace Caravan Park, and North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) took over.
“North Coast Holiday Parks are trying to generate as much money as possible from the whole riverside park,” said Sean, “by trying to take over the southern end.
“In the past the only time it was ever used was over Christmas, when people would come from Lismore and Casino for three weeks, and none of the residents ever worried about that.
“Now these guys have blockaded the whole thing, totally blocking access to the river, and divided it up into 60 camping blocks.
“How, all of a sudden, have they decided this is their land?”
Residents of The Terrace used to look across the road at a park, but now, just 10 metres from their front doors, are cheek-by-jowl tents most weekends, and more recently groups of revellers disgorged from tourist buses and in town to party hard at minimal cost and with scant disregard for permanent residents.
“The tour groups are no accident,” said Sean, “as my wife was told by another park manager that this park and two others have specifically started marketing themselves to certain groups, and young people are the target market for The Terrace because it is in easy walking distance of the pub.
“These large groups of weekend revellers behave as if they’re camping in the bush, and they think it’s fine to party all day and night, light campfires, treat the residents like hillbillies and park their cars and jet skis across our driveways.
“What conniving devils they are, to overthrow the southern end of The Terrace Reserve and send all the troublesome, transient, noisemaking and party-going rabble away from their exclusive northern end.
“After all, you couldn’t expect their cabin renters paying in excess of $1500 a week to have their sleep interrupted.”
Of concern to Sean also is the fate of the historic Tweed River pine trees that line the park, trees whose majestic trunks now stand shorn of all their lower branches.
“I suspect it’s a very good way of killing these trees slowly,” he said.
But while Sean has been documenting and photographing the loss of the public land and access to the river, Colin Woodberry, business manager of NCHP, doesn’t see it that way.
“Since we’ve taken it over we have not changed the park,” he claimed.
“The park has always been Crown land, and has always had camping on it.
“There are encroachment problems, but we have been working with the community to try to fix these things. We’re not here to be difficult.”
Byron Shire Council’s acting manager of governance, Jon Rushforth, said as far as he was aware, there had been no application to increase the number of sites or the density of camping at the Terrace Holiday Park.
Mr Rushforth said since the land was regulated by the Land and Property Management Authority and as it was Crown land, it was not under council’s control.
Sean is appealing to ‘people power’ as the only way to save the parkland for the people of Brunswick Heads, and to stop the environmental and social destruction, by emailing email@example.com to voice support, or join Save The Terrace Association when it is set up.
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