'Disaster waiting to happen' at popular waterhole
A TINTENBAR man says it's "only a matter time" before someone is killed near tourist hot spot Killen Falls, as the holiday season sees traffic chaos descend on the sensitive site.
"It's a disaster waiting to happen," Killen Falls Rd resident David Bester said.
"It's just a matter of when, not if."
Mr Bester has been living with intensifying traffic in the area for several years since word got out about its uncanny natural beauty.
It has now become a fixture on the schedules of several tourist operators and social media is abuzz with references to the stunning waterfall and swimming spot.
Most recently references to Killen Falls have been tweeted by the NSW Rugby League, official Byron Bay account, as well as numerous celebrity bloggers.
But the limited infrastructure at the site - which consists of only nine formal car parks - simply cannot cope with the number of visitors.
A council estimates the tiny spot receives at least 70,000 visitors a year.
Mr Bester said the site was "bursting at the seams". "There is anything up to 200 people passing through between morning tea and lunchtime," he said.
"It gets so crowded with the cars zooming up and zooming down.
They park all along our road... we get about 20 cars parked across our frontage."
There has been several prangs and near misses at the site in recent months, and Mr Bester said he was worried that a child was going to get hit by a car.
In October Ballina Shire Council approved and funded a four year Killen Falls plan of management to improve the site, costing $330,000.
The first year of the plan will include installing additional walkway signage, and a speed bump on Killen Falls Rd.
Planning is also underway for a permanent toilet costed at $130,000.
Commercial operators who take visitors to the spot will also be regulated with a licensing system which is currently being formulated.
Matt Wood, Ballina Shire Council's acting group manager for strategic and community facilities said staff were still assessing the number of tourism operators visiting the site, and how often they visited.
But Mr Wood noted that there was no room for an enlarged carpark.
"It literally is a very constrained site. Unfortunately it is just so popular now," he said.
Mr Bester said the issue needed to be dealt with urgently before a tragedy struck.
"I see people hooning down all the time, and by the time this masterplan is implemented I fear there is going to be a fatal accident," he said.
"I don't mind people coming to have a look, but I've always maintained this area needs to be managed, and it's not being managed.
"I just don't want to see it wrecked."