Simon Cass of the Point Cafe and other Lennox Head residents demonstrate that not everyone in the region is against Splendour in the Grass. They would like to see the return of the music festival and the economic benefits it brings to Ballina Shire.
Simon Cass of the Point Cafe and other Lennox Head residents demonstrate that not everyone in the region is against Splendour in the Grass. They would like to see the return of the music festival and the economic benefits it brings to Ballina Shire. Jay Cronan

Rally to bring Splendour home

TOURISM operators and businesses fear the Northern Rivers is developing a reputation as the region that won’t host major events.

This week’s announcement that the Repco Rally would be taken out of the area and moved to Coffs Harbour is the latest in a series of blows for the local economy.

Splendour in the Grass was moved to Woodford because its new Yelgun site has still not been approved.

Northern Rivers Tourism chief executive, Russell Mills, said he was concerned about the message being sent to potential investors and event organisers.

He said the ‘hostile climate’ was ‘disturbing and damaging’.

“This is a worrying trend of major events leaving our region due to lack of a proactive lobby for supporting major events in the region,” he said.

“The message these relocations are sending to people is that the Northern Rivers is not supportive of major events – take them elsewhere.

“The tourism industry, directly and indirectly, is a major employer and contributor to the economy of the Northern Rivers and a diversity of major events through the year is a vital part of our tourism mix.

“There is no doubt that the very vocal concerns of the anti-rally group have led to the relocation of the Australian leg of the World Rally Championship.

“While everyone has a right to voice concerns, I don’t think every protest group represents the broad interests of the regional community.

“Theirs is a very hollow victory.

“While there is a groundswell of support for bringing it back, the departure of Splendour in the Grass has been a major loss not only economically, but culturally and socially.”

On Friday, business owners in Lennox Head gathered at a Bring Splendour Home rally.

The music festival had major flow-on benefits for the village, with many festival-goers choosing to stay and eat in Lennox.

Simon Crass from The Point Cafe said the event helped get many people through a traditionally quiet time of the year.

“It keeps you going until Christmas,” he said.

“We really noticed this year that Splendour had moved – a lot of businesses suffered.

“We’re not here to line our pockets with gold, or take anything away from anyone, but it really did have an impact.”

Mavis Mercer, from Mavis’s Shop, agreed.

“The people who came to stay here in Lennox for Splendour were really happy people,” she said.

“It’s such a shame that it’s gone from the area now. It will make things a bit more difficult.”

North Byron Parklands has submitted an application for a permanent sustainable cultural event venue with the NSW Department of Planning, which is where Splendour in the Grass would be held.

The application will soon go on public exhibition.

Mr Mills said Northern Rivers Tourism would be calling on local councils and regional peak bodies to work together to develop a regional events strategy.

Governments must also be lobbied to help attract and keep major events in the region.

“Conducted responsibly, major events have such a short term physical impact but provide such a valuable longer term financial return to the economy and community,” he said.



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