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Ballina Shire News

The Northern Rivers: Why Our Beloved Hometown is Popular Tourist Destination

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Evans Head - A popular tourist destination in the Northern Rivers

The Northern Rivers: Why Our Beloved Hometown is Popular Tourist Destination

 

By Liam Jennings

Let me take you on a personal journey to the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, our cherished hometown, and a beloved tourist destination. Nestled between the lush green hills and pristine beaches of Australia’s east coast, this region is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. From our beaches to inland rainforest, to rolling hills and everything in between, it’s no wonder why we call the Northern Rivers home, and why so many people from around Australia, and across the globe, travel far and wide to share our experiences in this beautiful region.

One of the most compelling reasons why the Northern Rivers is a sought-after tourist destination is its unique natural beauty. From the rugged cliffs of the coastline to the rolling hills of the hinterland, this region offers a diverse landscape that captivates the soul. Picture-perfect beaches in Byron Bay, Lennox Head, Ballina (and let’s be real, all our beaches) draw surfers, sun seekers, and nature enthusiasts alike. Inland, the fertile valleys are dotted with macadamia farms, subtropical rainforests, and serene rivers, making it an idyllic setting for relaxation and adventure. Heading out west towards Casino and the Richmond Valley, you come to a huge land mass of rolling hills stretching as far as the eye can see.

Evans Head - A popular tourist destination in the Northern Rivers

Evans Head

And then we come to Byron Bay, the most famous part of our area, is a name known to travellers worldwide. It’s known for its relaxing vibe, Hippy roots, laid-back atmosphere, and stunning beaches make it a magnet for tourists seeking the perfect coastal getaway. The iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse stands as a sentinel over the easternmost point of Australia, offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and a prime spot for whale watching during migration season.

For surfers, the Northern Rivers is nothing short of paradise. The region boasts an abundance of world-class surf breaks, catering to riders of all skill levels. The Point at Lennox Head, The Pass at Byron Bay, and Yamba are some of the renowned surf spots that lure wave-riders from across the globe. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice eager to learn, the Northern Rivers waves beckon with open arms.

Beyond its natural allure, the Northern Rivers is a thriving cultural and artistic hub. Byron Bay is home to a vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries, music festivals, and cultural events throughout the year. But it’s not just Byron that has this culture. With any direction you travel, you’ll find something amazing. Lismore, the home of the community arts, holds an array of different events and festivals, such as the Lantern Parade and many more.

Nightcap National Park - a popular tourist destination northern rivers

Nightcap National Park

Foodies and gastronomes will find their heaven in the Northern Rivers. The region’s rich volcanic soil and subtropical climate nurture a bounty of fresh produce. From macadamia nuts and avocados to tropical fruits and freshly caught seafood, the local cuisine is a delight for the taste buds. The farm-to-table dining experience is alive and well here, with a plethora of farmers’ markets and gourmet restaurants offering delectable dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

The Northern Rivers is a gateway to several World Heritage-listed national parks, including the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Exploring these pristine rainforests is like stepping back in time, with ancient trees, rare wildlife, and cascading waterfalls creating an enchanting setting for bush walks and eco-adventures. The Border Ranges National Park and Nightcap National Park are must-visit destinations for nature lovers. But remember, with our community working hard to protect and conserve this rainforest over the years, it is important to leave no trace and respect the land in which it is on.

What truly sets the Northern Rivers apart is its strong sense of community and the countless festivals that celebrate life, music, and art. Events like the Byron Bay Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, and the Mullum Music Festival draw visitors from all corners of the globe. These festivals showcase the region’s spirit of inclusion, creativity, and appreciation for the arts. With some huge international headliners, to some of our smaller opening acts, it is a great representation of our regions artistic culture.

Nimbin - a popular tourist destination northern rivers

Nimbin

The Northern Rivers is dotted with charming small towns, each with its unique character and history. Places like Bangalow, Nimbin, and Mullumbimby offer a glimpse into the region’s past and a taste of its distinct culture. Out west, you have towns such as Casino, Tenterfield and Bentley, then down south we have the beautiful coastal towns of Evans Head, Yamba, Iluka and so many more. Whatever direction you follow, you’ll find a small town or village with true beauty and unique local people.

The Northern Rivers of New South Wales, our beloved hometown, is a popular tourist destination for good reason. Its unparalleled natural beauty, world-class surf breaks, vibrant arts scene, and strong sense of community create a tapestry of experiences that leave visitors enchanted. Whether you’re here to soak up the sun on pristine beaches, explore ancient rainforests, or immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, the Northern Rivers offers something for everyone. As locals, we are all continually grateful to call this incredible region home, and we invite anyone to discover its magic for yourself.

 

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Ballina News

Ballina Shire Council Unveils Draft Housing Strategy for Public Review

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Ballina Shire Council Unveils Draft Housing Strategy for Public Review

Ballina Shire Council Unveils Draft Housing Strategy for Public Review

 

The Ballina Shire Council is pleased to present the Draft Housing Strategy for public review and feedback, aimed at addressing the housing needs within the Ballina Shire over the next two decades. Crafted to anticipate and respond to housing demand, this strategy is a proactive approach to ensuring the availability of suitable housing for residents.

Paula Newman, Council’s Manager Strategic Planning, underscores the significance of this strategy in aligning housing supply with the community’s evolving needs.

“The Draft Ballina Shire Housing Strategy 2024 serves as a blueprint, identifying critical gaps in housing supply and delineating Council’s pivotal role in facilitating and promoting housing options that cater to our diverse populace,” she states.

The strategy delineates 23 actionable items earmarked for implementation over the ensuing 20 years, all aimed at fostering a more inclusive and sustainable housing landscape.

Four overarching principles guide these actions:

  1. Accessibility for Local Workers and Residents: Prioritising housing availability for those who live and work within the community, ensuring equitable access to housing opportunities.
  2. Promotion of Housing Diversity: Advocating for an array of housing sizes and types to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of residents, fostering inclusivity and choice.
  3. Creation of Walkable Neighbourhoods: Promoting the development of walkable neighbourhoods with proximity to essential amenities such as shops and services, enhancing community connectivity and quality of life.
  4. Enhancement of Housing Resilience: Ensuring new housing developments are resilient to natural disasters and capable of withstanding housing stress, safeguarding the welfare of residents and the integrity of communities.
Ballina Shire Council Unveils Draft Housing Strategy for Public Review

Ballina Shire Council Unveils Draft Housing Strategy for Public Review

Acknowledging the multifaceted nature of the housing system, Ms. Newman underscores the collaborative effort required for meaningful progress. “The housing landscape is intricate, influenced by an interplay of macro-economic policies, technological advancements, and stakeholder dynamics,” she affirms.

“While Council plays a pivotal role, effective resolution necessitates collective action, with landowners, developers, government entities, and community stakeholders each contributing to the solution.”

In the spirit of transparency and community engagement, Council conducted a series of consultation activities, including online surveys and face-to-face workshops, to gather insights and perspectives shaping this Draft Housing Strategy.

The Council invites community members to provide their valuable feedback on the Draft Strategy, underscoring the importance of community participation in shaping the future of housing within the Ballina Shire.

To contribute your insights and ideas, please visit here. Together, let us chart a course towards a more vibrant, inclusive, and resilient housing landscape for all residents of the Ballina Shire.

 

For more local Ballina news, click here.

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Ballina News

Changing up Australia Day

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A girl with an Australian Flag for tweed's Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony

Changing up Australia Day

 

By Sarah Waters

Tweed Shire Council bucked tradition and held their 2024 Tweed’s Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony on Thursday, January 25, last week – the day before Australia Day.

Council decided to change the date last year, after Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles announced an update to the Australian citizenship ceremonies code.

Councils are now allowed to host ceremonies on any of the three days before or after January 26.

Mayor Chris Cherry said hosting Tweed’s Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony a day before the public holiday allowed invited guests to attend last Thursday’s event and then spend Australia Day with their family and friends.

It also saved council with costs by not having to pay staff overtime for working on a public holiday.

Tweed Councillor Nola Firth said that it was a win, win situation to have the awards and citizenship ceremony on a different day.

“While I personally believe Australia Day should be on another day than the one where Captain Arthur Phillip arrived and took possession of what was in fact Indigenous land, the timing of the citizenship ceremony, of which there are many during the year, was not intended to create controversy,” Ms Firth said.

Ms Firth said community members could still celebrate Australia Day as they wished on January 26, but it also allowed the award ceremonies to be held on a day which wasn’t so contentious to some people.

A girl with an Australian Flag for tweed's Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony

Councils now have more control over what they do for Australia Day

Meanwhile, Byron Shire Council, did not host any Australia Day celebrations or ceremonies this year.

Mayor Michael Lyon said council held the opinion quite broadly that there should be a different day to celebrate Australians, which is more inclusive.

“I think the way things are going, more generally in Australia, is to move away from having January 26 as Australia Day and certainly in this Shire we’ve felt that way for a long time,” Mr Lyon said.

Last year, Byron Shire Council held a citizenship ceremony on Australia day, but this year it was moved to January 29.

The Byron Shire also did not hold an Australia Day awards ceremony to celebrate its community members.

In 2022, it decided to celebrate its citizens or community members at a completely different time of the year, which now typically coincides with Local Government Week in August.

Survival Day was instead held again at Byron Bay last Friday, January 26, which celebrated the survival of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture.

Arakwal Bundjalung people of Byron, the Sisters of Reconciliation and the Cavanbah Reconciliation Group invited community members to the 20th annual Cavanbah (Byron Bay) Survival Day event at Main Beach, Byron Bay.

Thousands attended the event, which included Bundjalung and Djugun musicians and speakers who discussed the history of the British Invasion and colonisation of Bundjalung people.

Ballina Shire Council had no changes to its annual Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony with both celebrations held last Friday at the Lennox Head Cultural Centre.

The shire’s ceremony started with a Welcome to Country by Bundjalung elder Aunty Julia Paden, followed by a special citizenship ceremony and the much-anticipated Ballina Shire Australia Day Awards.

 

For more Tweed Shire news, click here.

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Ballina Shire News

“Spare no expense”: Tamara Smith MP calls for further action to stamp out fire ants

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Fire Ants in Wardell

“Spare no expense”: Tamara Smith MP calls for further action to stamp out fire ants

 

Tamara Smith MP, Greens Member for Ballina, is calling on the Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty to take further action to eradicate red-imported fire ants in the Northern Rivers Region.

Fire ants were recently discovered by a local farmer in Wardell, just months after they were sighed in Murwillumbah further north.

Ms Smith is particularly concerned that construction materials, imported at increasing rates following the 2022 floods, have enabled more ways for fire ants to be quickly transported across long distances.

Residents who suspect they have seen fire-ants should call the Department of Primary Industries on 1800 680 244 or go to the DPI website for more information.

Fire Ants in Wardell

Tamara Smith MP is calling on Tara Moriarty to take further action to eradicate fire ants found in Wardell.

Tamara Smith MP, Greens Member for Ballina, said:

We must take urgent action to stamp out fire-ants and prevent a potential environmental catastrophe.

Since the floods, we’ve been transporting construction materials at record rates. That’s created a number of opportunities to spread fire ants across the region. It’s important that the NSW government inspects every post-flood inspection site to make sure fire ants have not spread further.

I’ve written to the Minister for Agriculture to express my concerns, and I will continue to raise this issue in Macquarie Street.

These ants can kill wildlife, kill pets, and devastate our local agriculture industry. We should spare no expense in stamping these ants out, or else we’re looking at much more expensive implications for the community down the road.

I’m confident Minister Moriarty will treat this issue with the urgency it deserves, and I look forward to working with the government on this issue.

 

For more local Ballina news, click here.

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