Wendy Bithell of Brunswick Heads has a vision for transporting locals as well as tourists in her nifty mini bus.
Wendy Bithell of Brunswick Heads has a vision for transporting locals as well as tourists in her nifty mini bus.

Wendy's transport solution

For all those living in the north of the shire wanting to have a fun evening out in the bright lights of Byron Bay, there have only ever been three choices – either sit on two drinks all evening, hitch, or shell out $100-plus on taxi fares.

But all that is about to change, thanks to Brunswick Heads tour operator Wendy Bithell, who has just started running a night shuttle bus service between the north-of-shire centres and Byron Bay on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Wendy came up with the idea a month or so back when out with friends for a celebration birthday dinner at The Balcony in Byron Bay.

“It would have been nice to be sipping cocktails like they were,” said Wendy. “But I couldn’t because I was driving, so I had to have just a couple of light beers all night – if I had caught a taxi I would have been looking at $200 all up for the evening.”

The experience got her thinking that what the area really needed was a night shuttle bus service, then she looked at what she had and a great idea began to dawn.

For Wendy, a passionate environmentalist with an environmental science degree under her belt, has been running Vision Walks for the last couple of years, an operation that takes tourists to experience the wonders of our national parks.

When she runs her night tours, she drives into Byron Bay from Brunswick Heads with an empty bus, takes them on the tour and then usually is driving back home with an empty bus again.

And so the elegant solution to the vexed problem of a lack of public transport at night from the north of the shire to Byron Bay presented itself.

“I thought, what if I pick up people in the Brunswick Heads/Mullumbimby/Ocean Shores area, take them into Byron Bay at about 7pm, do my tour and then pick them up again around 11.30pm and bring them back home,” she said.

Running the night shuttle bus service would also be a way for Wendy to avoid the problem that dogs all those in the tourism industry – how to survive in the off season.

“What I find is that during winter things get slow,” she said, “and I have to go and find another part-time job.

“This way I will have a second stream of income, and I will be providing a service at the same time.”

Wendy is trialling her service for a month or so, though if response so far to leaflets she has placed around is any indication, it looks like a winner with locals.

The service will run from Billinudgel, South Golden Beach, New Brighton, Ocean Shores, Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby to Byron Bay on Friday and Saturday nights at a cost of $15 per person one way.

To make a booking, call Wendy on 0405 275 743.

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