A UNIVERSITY researcher says the original sea change towns such as Byron Bay and Noosa have been ‘loved to death’.
Queensland University of Technology PhD researcher Nick Osbaldiston said the desire to move to the sea or bush was now so common that idyllic sea and tree change spots were no longer havens for those wishing to get away from it all.
“Some places have lost the aura of being a regional town and have become mini metropolises, which for some ‘original’ sea changers becomes a problem,” he said.
“The first sea changers who arrived back in the 1980s and early 1990s in some areas now find their idyllic locations too commercialised and lacking in authenticity.”
One woman who has visited Byron since 1978 and who has lived in the hinterland for 10 years, said she hated what was happening to the area.
“Walking through Byron over Christmas I just saw people who were here to take, take, take,” she said.
“Byron has changed to accommodate the people who come here.
“There’s a new breed, the fabulously wealthy who’ve done well in business or sold houses in Sydney.
“These people blow into town and act as if they’ve been part of the Byron scene for decades. But they’re fake, and fortunately some of them only last a few years.”
But mayor Jan Barham said she saw some of Byron’s charm returning in the past year as the community responded to the challenge.
“We’ve been regarded as a pretty stroppy community in the past, standing up to government and developers, and thank goodness we have because we’ve stopped Byron from becoming just another homogenous, coastal tourist destination,” she said.
“There is still a vibe here, like no other town in Australia.”
Earlier research by Mr Osbaldiston had found many sea changers had a starry-eyed view of getting out of the city.
His findings were backed by the head of National Sea Change Taskforce, Alan Stokes, who said his organisation urged people who were dreaming of starting a new life on the coast or in the bush to ask themselves some hard questions.
“We tell them to do their research,” Mr Stokes said.
“They should ask themselves are there educational opportunities for the children? Are there job opportunities? Is there sufficient health care, especially aged care?”