BACK PACKER PESTS
By BREE PRICE
LENNOX HEAD residents fear backpackers are taking over their community, following a proposal to build a fourth hostel in the coastal village.
Ballina Shire Council has received a development application to convert an existing house at Ballina Street into hostel accommodation for up to 16 people.
The Lennox Head Beach House YHA, All Bad Backpackers and the Lennox Lodge already offer budget accommoda- From Page 1
Long-time Lennox Head resident Mr Smith said he didn't want the same nightclub scene in his sleepy village that now dominates Byron Bay.
"The statement we've always worked on is that Lennox Head should be a family-friendly seaside resort," he said.
"The image of young backpackers is that they want a different sort of entertainment to your typical family image.
"At night they want the nightlife, whereas all families want is a good meal.
"The nightlife in Lennox Head beyond the spread of restaurants is thin.
"It's recognised that the majority of backpackers are extremely welcome people, but the point of caution is having too much of one category of accommodation."
However, the manager of All Bad Backpackers, Gavin Stewart, said Lennox Head could easily accommodate another hostel without losing its quiet image.
"I think we can sustain one more backpackers without too much trouble," he said.
"There is definitely concern in the community about being overrun (with backpackers) ? it took time for the community to warm up to us."
Mr Stewart, a backpacker from Western Australia who fell in love with Lennox Head and stayed, said backpackers came to the town to escape the chaos of Byron Bay.
"Byron Bay is a bit chaotic when it's in full swing. The people who come to Lennox Head are the more serious travellers who look for what's off the map and want the whole experience," he said.
"A lot of people come here for a beach vacation, and to get away from the queues."
However, tourism groups at Ballina and Lismore said they would welcome the extra backpackers.
Ballina Travellers Lodge owner Michele Bogaards said it would be great to see more backpackers staying in Ballina.
"You get a certain type of backpacker here because it's a quieter destination," she said.
"It would be nice to see a few more."
Lismore caravan park operators said they didn't see many backpackers come through the town, but would also like to see Lismore become more popular.
German backpacker Kathleen Stulpner, 22, said she was drawn to the Northern Rivers for the lifestyle.
But she found Byron Bay too hectic and ended up in Lennox Head. And she's since returned.
"I came up here after Sydney. I wanted to go up north where it's warm," she said.
"I was only in Byron Bay for a couple of hours. I like what you can enjoy here. It's quiet and you can relax.
"Everyone is on the same wavelength."
What do you think?
Phone the Star Feedback line on 6624 3266 or email opin- firstname.lastname@example.org to backpackers in the village.