Generally, the national market is trending down. Melbourne and Sydney are in the doldrums. Sydney median house prices have come down around 8% and Melbourne is off by 5.2%. A prime market indicator is the auction clearance rate. When the clearance rate is under 50% the market is considered to be soft. The last auction weekend in Melbourne in October achieved a clearance rate of 49.8%, while Sydney recorded 49.8%. A clearance rate of over 80% is “very hot”. Around 65-70% is considered around the norm. Byron Bay is holding up but is definitely off the intensity of earlier in the year.
Sea Change is Back
The beloved Oz TV series from 1998 Sea Change is to be reprised. Local TV writer and producer Deb Cox probably gleaned a lot from her own experience moving to Byron from the big smoke. Sigrid Thornton and John Howard will be reprising their roles as Laura Gibson and Bob Jelly. The production company’s later production East of Everything, which was filmed here in Byron, was not so well received. The new episodes will appear on Channel 9 and not the ABC.
Hitching with Hemsworth
Actor Chris Hemsworth may be building a mega-mansion at Broken Head but he has not lost the touch of being a good bloke. Arriving last week in Brisbane, he and his personal trainer were leaving the airport when they spotted a fellow traveler hitchhiking. US musician Scott Hildebrand had a cardboard sign saying “Byron Bay” and it was the first time he had ever hitch hiked in his life. Not recognising his lift, he offered to chip in for gas. Hemsworth told him the gas bill would be $4000. The larger than normal bill became clear when they arrived at the chopper taking them from Brisbane direct to Byron.
Rental Trend Worsens
Stats that the Northern Rivers is not in a downturn like most other areas, is the rental vacancy rate. But this is bad news for renters. Sydney vacancy rate increased by 0.2% to 3%. All other areas in NSW also made gains in vacancy rates. Only the Northern Rivers went back 0.3% to 1.0%. Northern Rivers, and especially Byron Shire, remain one of the most difficult places in Australia to get decent and affordable rental accommodation.
Mullumbimby Affordable Housing Proposal
The council is at least trying in one area to provide more accommodation options. Byron Council owns a 29 Ha parcel of land south of Mullumbimby, now known as Lot 22. It adjoins the Mullum tennis courts and the Mullumbimby Community Garden. Council is proposing to allow the land to be rezoned and developed into an affordable housing estate. The plans involve flood mitigation earthworks to allow raised islands with small blocks of land and clusters of manufactured homes. People can buy a small demountable dwelling and pay a land lease back to council.
The land would then remain in community hands and the council would get some well-needed income. But the main advantage is that a couple of hundred people would have a stable low-cost home. More people have become aware that the housing crisis we are experiencing has moved from dire to catastrophic. Please send a letter of support to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to see this project to succeed. Or look at the FAQs are here.
Enova on Track
Local community owned electricity provider, Enova Energy, is on track with its crowdsourcing campaign. It has exceeded the minimum $600,000 necessary but wants to reach to desired $3M total and has two weeks to do it. The crowdfunding campaign is to find the growth into other areas in NSW, Sydney and southeast Queensland. Go here and learn more and then, if you are one of the many complainers about the horror show happening with the national energy debate, do something about it by going here.
Rail Trail fundraiser
And while you are in a giving mood. The Northern Rivers Rail Trail is also asking for funds. You can either donate or vote for them to be in the running for next round of community grants. You can do that here.
Let’s stay Loose and Livable
There are two issues that have got me musing this month:
1. Nude Beach, Grays Lane, Tyagerah
This is a tough one as many progressive liberal types that I know are trying to shut down the clothes optional beach area and tea tree lake in Tyagerah. This is a shame as the beach and the lake were always great places to swim but have been taken over by sleazy tourists (dog whistle for “Queenslanders”). They have taken it over and turned it into a gay beat and swingers/exhibitionist hang out. My suggestion is the best thing to do is for more people (read locals) go there more often and take it back.
2. Universal Medicine, Lismore.
Serge Benhayon is the leader of local spiritual practice called Universal Medicine based in Lismore. He recently lost a court case where he claimed he was being defamed by an ex-client and acupuncturist. You would think he would leave it alone when you claim to be the reincarnation of Leonardo Da Vinci and say you can cure cancer with breast massage? I attended a couple of workshops of his many years ago and it seemed pretty harmless and well-intentioned but lately, it did take on lots of cult-like characteristics. The guy has a massive ego and has split up many homes with partners who take different views. I know there are credible and intelligent people who remain involved and are strong advocates for him. But it was worrying when members seemed to be infiltrating councils and taking over chambers of commerce.
I am highlighting these issues as both events prompted a mildly conservative and reactionary backlash in our usually tolerant community. When there is something happening you don’t like the immediate response is to go, “Stop it, ban it, shut it down!” Let’s keep Byron loose and livable, tolerant and diverse please.