Australia said YES. So can you.

The welcome news that the SSM: Same Sex Marriage voluntary postal survey (with a return rate of 79.5% of registered voters), had returned an overwhelming YES vote, to the question “should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”, was greeted with relief and joy by same sex couples and the GLBTQI community through-out Australia, after an often nasty and divisive “campaign” which culminated in the result being delivered live on TV by David Kalisch, ABS chief statistician.

It was a nail biting and tense moment for many people, with one of Australia’s most prominent lesbian politicians’; Senator for South Australia, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs – Penny Wong; normally known for being unflappable, dissolving into tears as the reality of the announcement sank in.

Having successfully and quickly making its way through the Senate, and after many hours of debate on “religious freedoms and protections” amendments, which were all summarily dismissed, the bill was finally passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday 7th December 2017.  More scenes of jubilation and tears of joy followed.

Couples Only Accommodation, Wedding Venues and Honeymoon Destinations reported an immediate upsurge in enquiries.

Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat  (YouTube video.)

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Disclosure: CCRR is a Big Volcano customer.

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Family friendly holidays: Farmstays

Some of the best family holiday memories have come from those unexpected moments when you and the kids get back to nature.

It’s a bit shocking to read that recent surveys have found many city kids don’t know that milk comes from cows, and they’ve never seen a live farm animal.

Varying in popularity as a holiday option over the last few years,  Farmstays and farm stay accommodation has now made a return as an often affordable alternative to national parks camping or beach side holiday cabin accommodations.

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Photo © courtesy Hosanna Farm Stay

Hobby farms on smaller acreage, will usually have animals more used to handling and petting, with kids having the opportunity to learn appropriate behaviour around animals, while working farms on larger land holdings, give families a chance to see farm routines and join in farm activities, with the children able to get up close and personal with cute and sometimes not so cuddly farm animals.

Activities like horse riding, bush walking, canoeing, bicycling, archery and fishing are often available on-site or nearby.

The chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and experience the lifestyle of the “man and woman on the land”, where mum and dad can relax while the kids enjoy the wide open spaces, fresh, clean air, get filthy dirty and run themselves ragged before a sound nights’ sleep, is an often overlooked family holiday option.

Recently updated with Booking.com host farm options, the Big Volcano Farmstays, farm stay accommodation and host farm holidays directory, covers the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, Gold Coast Hinterland and Scenic Rim region of Queensland, Australia.

Disclosure: Hosanna Farm Stay is a Big Volcano customer.

Tourism Backlash in Europe

Now is the summer of their discontent.
 
 
A story illustrating what happens when enough tourism is too much, driven by the “disruption” of online booking channels like Airbnb, cruise tourism, and the rise of tourist numbers to locations made popular in films and online TV shows.
 
We already see this in our region, with the overwhelming number of people climbing Mt Warning, – now more than 100,000 per year according to some sources, beginning to diminish that experience for many people, the hoards of visitors to Byron Bay, and other locations where “flash tourism” experiences can wreak havoc on local communities.
 
This trend needs to be addressed by local councils, DTOs and operators now, before it becomes a problem of a similar magnitude in our region.
 
While there’s only so much supply and demand which can enable individual operators to “price themselves out of the market”, local councils, state and federal governments have a critical role to play in what is now becoming a double edged sword, and needs a delicate balance.
 
Lord Howe Island and Bhutan both spring to mind as good examples of places where visitation and access models are used to proactively manage visitor numbers, in order to protect fragile environments, World Heritage listed properties, and the interests and cultural lifestyles of local communities.
 
Can anyone else provide other examples of destinations which have planning and administration programmes in place, to actively manage visitor and tourism numbers for the benefit of the environment and local communities ahead of the “free market”?

References:

Mt Warning Road and National Park reopens tomorrow

350 road flood jobs done, 1200 to go

Mt Warning Road has been made safe following the March 30 floods and will reopen to all motorists on Monday (29 May 2017) under stop/go traffic control.

The National Park will reopen from Monday as well.

korrumbynCrk_MtWarningRd_2142_M600Photo: Korrumbyn Creek, Mt Warning Road 2013.  J. Palmer 

Flood repair works on the road will continue for some time yet as only the critical safety repairs have been completed to date. At some time, the road may need to be closed again as additional repair work is scheduled.

Motorists are advised to watch for traffic controllers on Mt Warning Road and other Tweed roads as flood repair works continue. In particular, they are urged to take extra caution even after light rain as many roadside environs are still saturated and prone to slippage and rock falls in the wet.

“The road you travel on today may not be the same road tomorrow,” said Manager Infrastructure Delivery Tim Mackney. “Please expect the unexpected, especially after rain.”

Council’s road network sustained considerable damage in the floods, with more than 1500 individual road and bridge defects identified. To date, Council staff and contractors have completed around 350 of the simpler and most urgent repairs.

Council is engaging more contractors to help continue the flood restoration works as Council staff must begin to return to Council’s normal program of construction works.

“Realistically, it will be 12 months before we have most of the damage fixed,” said Mr Mackney. “Some more complicated or lower-priority jobs may take up to three years before they can be scheduled and completed.

“We ask Tweed motorists to be patient as we work through this significant list.”

Repairs are prioritised based on a number of factors, including safety.

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To view all Tweed Shire Council media releases online, please visit the Tweed Shire Council Newsroom.

See also WOLLUMBIN (MOUNT WARNING) NATIONAL PARK and Mount Warning Climb – The Big Climb.

National Parks open Gold Coast and Northern Rivers

After the damage done by ex Tropical Cyclone Debbie in late March, most national parks in the region have now reopened, although some walking tracks and access roads remain closed.

Main details are provided below, but visit the NSW and QLD government official national parks web pages for the most recent updates.

See also Big Volcano Visitor Guide | The National Parks of the Tweed Volcano Region for more parks in the region.

NSW:

Border Ranges National Park

Last reviewed: Thu 20 Apr 2017, 3.21pm.

Closed areas: Tweed Range Scenic Drive partially closed

Tweed Range Scenic Drive is now open from Sheepstation Creek to Pinnacle lookout. Brindle Creek Loop Road is open. Sheepstation Creek and Forest Tops campgrounds are now open. The Pinnacle walk and lookout is open.

Tweed Range Scenic Drive remains closed between Pinnacle lookout and the Barkersvale entrance. Access to Tweed Range Scenic Drive is only via Lynches Creek Road from Wiangaree.

Some walking tracks will remain closed. Affected areas are:

  • Booyong walking track
  • Brindle Creek walking track
  • Bar Mount walking tracks and lookouts
  • Blackbutts lookout

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Photo:  Interpretive signage at Nightcap National Park, Whian Whian State Conservation Area (SCA) Rummery Park camping area.

Gibraltar Range National Park

Last reviewed: Thu 11 May 2017, 9.15am.

Some areas of this park are closed due to programmed road works. This closure may be extended and any extension will be posted as soon as possible. Closed areas are:

  • Mulligan’s Drive and campground
  • Anvil Rock walking track
  • Dandahra Crags walking track
  • Platypus picnic area

Mooball National Park

Last reviewed: Tue 11 Apr 2017, 11.08am.

This park is closed due to storm damage. Landslips, severe erosion and tree falls are blocking all access roads and trails.

Mount Clunie National Park

Last reviewed: Tue 31 May 2016, 10.12am.

Mt Clunie road is closed until further notice due to a collapsed bridge. There is a locked gate and access is restricted.

Mount Jerusalem National Park

Last reviewed: Tue 18 Apr 2017, 11.24am.

This park is closed due to storm damage and blockages related to trees and landslips. This closure remains in place unless otherwise extended or removed.

Nightcap National Park

Last reviewed: Mon 01 May 2017, 1.51pm.

Terania Creek picnic area, Protestors Falls and various walking tracks in Nightcap National Park and Whian Whian State Conservation Area are closed due to flood/storm damage.

This closure may be extended and any extension will be posted as soon as possible. Minyon Grass and Minyon Falls picnic areas remain open. Rummery Park campground is also open.

Toonumbar National Park

Last reviewed: Thu 23 Mar 2017, 10.56am.

Some areas of this park are closed due to weather conditions. The closed areas are:

  • Coxs Road
  • Toonumbar Forest Drive
  • Sherwood lookout
  • Murray Scrub lookout

Ironpot Creek campground and Murray Scrub walking track remain open.

Whian Whian State Conservation Area

Last reviewed: Mon 01 May 2017, 1.51pm.

Terania Creek picnic area, Protestors Falls and various walking tracks in Nightcap National Park and Whian Whian State Conservation Area are closed due to flood/storm damage.

This closure may be extended and any extension will be posted as soon as possible. Minyon Grass and Minyon Falls picnic areas remain open. Rummery Park campground is also open.

Wollumbin National Park (Mount Warning)

Last reviewed: Mon 01 May 2017, 8.23am.

Wollumbin National Park is closed due to storm damage. The Summit track and Lyrebird loop have both suffered damage, resulting in unsafe conditions for public access. Repair works are underway.

Closures may be extended and any extension will be posted as soon as possible. Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, please visit the NSW National Parks safety page for park safety guidelines and current contact details.

QLD:

Park Alerts will be regularly updated regarding conditions on parks. The next updates will be provided by Friday 26 May 2017.

Please note that in affected parks, all camping permits for closed areas are suspended for the duration of the closure. To apply for a refund or gift card, please visit http://www.qld.gov.au/camping.

Commercial tour operators and other permit or agreement holders are not permitted to enter closed areas.

Burleigh Head National Park

Resurfacing of the Oceanview track commenced Wednesday 5 April 2017, with completion anticipated by the end of June (weather dependent).

Work on the track will be completed in two sections. The northern section of the track will be the first section to be reconstructed and the Oceanview track will be closed between the northern entry at Goodwin Terrace and Echo Beach on Tallebudgera Creek during this period.

Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk Springbrook section closed

Following damage from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the Springbrook sections of the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk remain closed.

This includes:

  • Numinbah Valley to Apple Tree Park;
  • Apple Tree Park to The Settlement; and
  • Woonoongoora Walkers’ Camp at Numinbah Valley.

The sections of the Great Walk in Lamington National Park, including the Green Mountains walkers’ camp, are open.

Observe all signage, barriers and directions from rangers, and do not enter closed areas.

All camping permits for closed areas are suspended for the duration of the closure. To apply for a refund or gift card, please visit http://www.qld.gov.au/camping.

Commercial tour operators and other permit or agreement holders are not permitted to enter closed areas.

Lamington National Park

Following damage from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, some walking tracks in Lamington National Park remain closed.

Tracks closed in Binna Burra section include:

  • Ships Stern circuit;
  • Illinbah circuit and the Illinbah bush camping area;
  • Gwongoorool track; and
  • Caves circuit. Note: A long term closure will apply to the Caves circuit due to a significant landslide.

Tracks closed in the Green Mountains section include:

  • Albert River circuit;
  • Toolona Creek circuit; and
  • West Canungra Creek circuit.

All other walking tracks and camping areas in Lamington National Park are open.

QPWS rangers are currently working on repairs to the other walking tracks and facilities.

Observe all signage, barriers and directions from rangers, and do not enter closed areas.

Lamington National Park alerts

Most remote bush camping areas in Lamington National Park are now open with caution. Bushwalkers and campers should use extreme caution and stay alert for hazards.  Read more

Springbrook National Park

Springbrook Plateau section

Following damage from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the eastern section of Purling Brook circuit, from the John Stacey suspension bridge up to and including the eastern lookout, the causeway at the top of the falls, and the track to Settlement day-use area remain closed.

Access to the main western lookout remains open.

Observe all signage, barriers and directions from rangers, and do not enter closed areas.

Natural Bridge section

Work has started to upgrade the stairs in the glow-worm cave at Natural Bridge. It is anticipated that this work will be completed by Friday 2 June 2017, pending favourable weather conditions.

The upgrade involves the complete removal of the existing stairs and the installation of a new staircase.

As a result, the following areas are temporarily closed for the duration of the work:

  • Glow-worm cave
  • The upper section of the walking track from the fig tree to the cave entrance.

The lower walking track remains open and provides access to the external lookout ONLY. This lookout is situated outside the cave, but provides views into the cave. Return via the same route to get back to the car park.

Observe all signage, barriers and directions from rangers, and do not enter closed areas.

For latest official details on all park alerts and closures see Gold Coast hinterland national parks alerts at https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/park-alerts and NSW NPWS Alerts at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/alerts/alerts-list

Assistance for flood affected businesses Tweed Shire

‘Category C’ assistance for flood-affected businesses and farmers

Thursday 13 April, 2017

Mayor welcomes support and encourages ‘shop local’ message.

Mayor of Tweed, Councillor Katie Milne has welcomed the approval of ‘Category C’ support for eligible small businesses, farmers and not-for-profits describing the announcement as ‘welcome relief’ towards the end of a gruelling week of recovery efforts.

The Category C listing for Murwillumbah and Lismore was approved overnight and will provide access to grant support of up to $15,000 to eligible primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profits.

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Photo: J Palmer.  Ex TC Debbie 2017.  The view from Riverview Street, Murwillumbah

The first round of support includes areas around the major town centres including Murwillumbah, South Murwillumbah, Condong and Bray Park.   Other Tweed Shire areas including affected rural villages and outlying businesses are being considered under a separate application with more information soon to come.

To assist with the assessment process, businesses in Tumbulgum, Uki, Chinderah, Mooball and Burringbar are encouraged to provide information on how they’ve been affected via: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NorthCoastFloodsBusinessSurvey]

Councillor Milne says the Category C support is vital for small businesses hit so hard by the disaster.  “This is really fantastic news; the floods and the clean-up have taken such an emotional and physical toll on everyone involved,” she said.

“Small businesses and primary producers are a really important part of our community life and this sort of support is critical to helping them get back on their feet.  “The damage, clean-up and recovery costs have been significant, these grants will help, but it’s so important at this time that we continue to shop local and get behind these businesses that have lost so much.”

Category C assistance includes recovery grants for primary producers, small businesses and non-profit organisations and are designed to assist with the costs of clean-up and reinstatement of businesses that have suffered direct damage as a result of an eligible disaster.

To apply for a recovery grant, small businesses in the local government areas above can contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or by visiting the NSW Rural Assistance Authority http://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/ website.

Further information on disaster assistance is available at the Disaster Assist https://www.disasterassist.gov.au/Pages/home.aspx website and the Emergency NSW https://www.emergency.nsw.gov.au/  website.

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To view all Tweed Shire Council media releases online, please visit the Tweed Shire Council Newsroom.