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.)


Disclosure: CCRR 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”?


Knox Park adventure playground scores regional award

Murwillumbah’s popular Knox Park adventure playground is in the running for a national award, after receiving regional recognition at prestigious industry awards.

The playground took out a Regional Award for Excellence in the ‘Playspace: Minor (less than $500,000)’ category at the Parks & Leisure Australia Awards for Excellence, competing against other projects from across NSW and the ACT.

The judges said the project had converted an area with little local appeal into a popular destination for children and families to get together and have fun.  “It’s a great park that provides for a wide range of users.  The project has improved public safety and subsequently increased its use,” the judges said.

“It’s an excellent combination of fixed equipment, natural environment and shade provision.”

The Knox Park project will now go on to compete for the national award at the Parks & Leisure Australia National Conference being held in Adelaide in October.

TSC Landscape Architect, Ian Bentley (centre)
Photo: Tweed Shire Council’s Landscape Architect, Ian Bentley (centre) accepts the regional award for the Knox Park playground from Parks & Leisure Australia NSW/ACT President, Les Munn (left) and Cricket NSW’s Manager State Infrastructure & Government Relations, Anthony Brooks

The adventure playground has been extremely popular with children and families since its completion in October last year. It was installed in the existing Peace Walk, to take advantage of the shade of existing trees and reinvigorate that section of the park.

The playground was designed to engage children in imaginative play that interacts with the natural surroundings.

It forms part of a $1.2 million youth precinct at the central Murwillumbah park, which also now features a plaza-style skate park and scooter precinct, an adventure playground with cutting-edge design features, as well as facilities for basketball, handball, soccer and netball.

The overall youth precinct was funded through a $500,000 Regional Development Australia grant from the Federal Government, $250,000 from the Murwillumbah Lions Club and $500,000 from Council.

Courtesy: Tweed Shire Council Newsroom
Friday 27 May, 2016
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See also: Big Volcano Visitor Guide / Volcano Towns / Murwillumbah

Restoring waterways of Cudgen plateau

Farmers and Council are working together to expand soil conservation projects on the Cudgen plateau.

The two-year project, funded by the NSW Environmental Trust and coordinated by Council, will expand soil conservation activities to restore 3.5 hectares of riparian land along 1.5 kilometres of Cudgen plateau waterways.

Farmers_Council_cudgen_115113_640 Photo: Farmers and Council are working together to expand soil conservation projects on the Cudgen plateau.

Five landholders will work with Council to minimise the loss of valuable topsoil from farms, improve aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity and connectivity and improve water quality of the local stream and the estuary it feeds into, Cudgen Creek.

The loss of topsoil remains the most significant environmental issue affecting the sustainability of the plateau’s farming activities, polluting local waterways, degrading riparian habitat and reducing productivity.

“The plateau is one of our most important areas of agricultural land, our future food bowl, and farmers need support to protect these production values and maintain the health of the local environment,” Council’s Program Leader – Sustainable Agriculture, Eli Szandala, said.

“The benefits of native vegetation in riparian areas, for both catchment health and on-farm production, are well documented.

“However, the expertise and resources required to undertake restoration works are limited for most farmers.”

Well-vegetated riparian areas capture sediments, nutrients and farm chemicals before they enter the waterway, stabilise stream banks, particularly during flood events, and improve aquatic ecosystems.

They also provide habitat for beneficial insects and predatory birds that prey on agricultural pests.

The project will revegetate and maintain more than one hectare of riparian land, planting 8000 native trees and other plants.  Weed control will also be undertaken throughout the project area to assist native regeneration and remnant vegetation.

Mr Szandala said stream bank stabilisation and improved drainage design and management would be undertaken where required, to further reduce sediments and contaminants entering the waterway.

“Community education is a key element of the project, with fact sheets, training and assistance to be provided to participating landholders and the community about managing soil erosion and improving farm productivity through environmentally beneficial techniques,” he said.

A workshop will showcase the benefits of native vegetation for intensive production systems and demonstrate the mutual benefits of farming and biodiversity conservation.

Council has gained support from North Coast Local Land Services, Tweed Landcare Incorporated, WetlandCare Australia, landholders and bush regenerators to help implement the project and share information.

“This project will strengthen past revegetation works, develop additional areas of native riparian vegetation and improve on-farm management practices for the benefit of farmers, the environment and the local economy,” he said.

For more information, contact Eli Szandala at or (02) 6670 2599.

Courtesy: Tweed Shire Council Newsroom
Friday 27 May, 2016
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See also: Big Volcano Towns : Kingscliff

Tweed secures funds to keep walking

Back in mid April Tweed Shire Council announced joint funding to fix some footpaths, kerbs and pedestrian refuges/islands, in Murwillumbah, Banora Point and Tweed Heads south.

Tweed residents are being encouraged and supported to get active and walk more with Council being awarded $44,500 to improve pedestrian facilities in the area.

Council secured the grant funding [last April] in a 50/50 partnership with the New South Wales Government Active Transport Program under the category ‘Walking Communities’.

The grant will allow Council to improve pedestrian links by installing kerb ramps and pedestrian refuges and realigning footpaths at two locations in Banora Point; three in Murwillumbah and one in Tweed Heads South.

The work will improve pedestrian links at those locations and safety, particularly for people using mobility scooters or pushing prams.  The programs will cost $89,000 and works will be completed by the end of June 2017.

The locations that received funding were:

  •   Banora Point – corners of Darlington and Leisure Drives and Darlington and Woodland Drives
  •   Murwillumbah – Brisbane Street between Proudfoots Lane and Wollumbin Street; Wollumbin Street, east of Nullum Street; and the corner of Queensland Road and Ewing Street
  • Tweed Heads South – the corner of Heffron Street and Minjungbal Drive

Courtesy: Tweed Shire Council Newsroom
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See also Big Volcano Visitor Guide: Bicycling, Bushwalking (hiking, tramping, rambling) Bird Watching

Affordable rental homes launched in Murwillumbah

Tweed Shire Council partnership to deliver 52 affordable homes

Mayor of Tweed Councillor Katie Milne helped launch the first of 22 affordable rental houses to be built at Hundred Hills, Murwillumbah, on Wednesday 24 February 2016.

The launch signalled the culmination of five years’ work in delivering a share of the federal government’s $100 million Better Regional Cities Program to the Tweed.

affordableHousing_160827_640 Photo: Mayor of Tweed Cr Katie Milne and Horizon Housing Chief Executive Officer Jason Cubit launch the not-for-profit’s first rental house in Murwillumbah.

“Housing affordability is a very real issue here in the Tweed and Council is happy to have been able to support this initiative and make an affordable house available to a family in need,” Cr Milne said at the launch.

The project came after a January 2011 study, in which the then federal government had identified the Tweed as an area where house prices were unaffordable.  This prompted Council to partner with the not-for-profit group Horizon Housing and apply for funds under the program to build affordable housing in the shire.

The partnership secured $8.36 million in funds to build 52 homes at Hundred Hills; 30 to be sold and 22 to be retained by Horizon Housing for renting.

By May 2014, all roads and stormwater, water and sewer connections, electricity and recreational spaces were in place.

“The grant funds for the 52 lots enabled construction of the infrastructure for the whole development, fast tracking
the release of 178 lots, including the 52 earmarked for affordable housing,” Council’s Director Engineering David Oxenham said.

Of the 52 lots held by Horizon Housing, 25 of the 30 for sale have sold under a discounted mortgage scheme where Horizon Housing retains a 25 per cent interest in the property at no cost to the buyer until or unless the house is on-sold.

22 properties have been retained by Horizon Housing for renting.  The first house was launched ready for tenants in late February, with the second due to be finished by the end of March, and construction on seven more is due to start.

Both buyers and renters must meet eligibility criteria to join the affordable housing scheme and should contact
Horizon Housing direct for more information.

Courtesy Tweed Shire Council Newsroom 

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