Residents of the Mid North Coast want to save paradise by keeping a parking lot
A group of Crescent Head residents want to save paradise by keeping a parking lot.
Conservation movements generally focus on leafy, green or cuddly trees. And no one has probably ever written a protest song for a patch of asphalt.
However, the Crescent Head protest group is determined to prevent Kempsey Shire Council from digging the parking space for 37 vehicles in order to build an upgraded coastal walkway. Protesters describe the parking lot as a “sacrosanct gathering place for surfers”.
The protest campaign led to a schism in the village, emblematic of rising tensions over development, public space and housing affordability along the NSW coast. Some residents are afraid of being left out of the change, others embrace it.
Located on the north coast of New South Wales, Crescent Head is a national surfing reserve, with one of the longest breaks on the right in Australia.
Bob Evans, who started Surfing World Magazine in 1962 he brought the village to the attention of 1960s popular culture, when he organized a team of 25 surfers including Midget Farrelly and filmmaker Alby Falzon to come down on the break. From then on, its fame among the surfing fraternity was guaranteed, the foreshore parking lot being a privileged gathering place.
Last October, the Kempsey Shire Council approved a village estate plan that included the removal of parking lot built on Crown land. A consultant’s report pointed out that the parking lot, when full, obscured the “scenic views” and posed a danger to children. Nearby pandanus were also found to block “panoramas”.
The protest movement took off this year when beachfront and waterfront cabins were offered for council-owned Crescent Head Holiday Park adjoining the parking lot that was to be removed.