The Macadamia Castle at Knockrow.
The Macadamia Castle at Knockrow.

Highway nightmare: Two years of pain for tourist attraction

TONY Gilding, the owner of the Macadamia Castle at Knockrow, wrote this letter to the editor about his ongoing concerns with the Pacific Highway and the impact on his business and tourism for the region:

TWO years ago on December 18, 2015, the RMS opened the Pacific Highway upgrade between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale.

The Macadamia Castle then had to wait another four months for the off ramps to be completed from Ross Lane to allow tourists to find us.

This confusion and ongoing issues have cost us dearly.

Whilst the benefit to motorists has been significant there are aspects of the upgrade not completed and the community is still feeling the pain in many areas.

My efforts to solve these issues have included hundreds of letters, a meeting with Ben Franklin MLC in March 2016 and a visit to Sydney to meet with Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey on October 12 this year.

My requests for a meeting with the Minster and an RMS representative together have so far been denied. I'm not sure why.

At the meeting with Minister Pavey I listed many broken promises by the RMS made at the meeting with Mr Franklin including completing of the St Helena lookout information bay, moving signage as requested by Mr Franklin in June 2016, a review of noise measurement and bypassed destination signage.

And many more including that a large amount of the Castle grounds is no longer useable due to noise.

Despite many reminders no substantive replies have been provided from the Minister, the problems still exist, and the Castle is forced to endure. Not one cent of compensation has been received by the Castle contrary to a rumour I have heard repeated many times.

The Macadamia Castle will survive but faster action and less broken promises by the RMS would have saved more jobs and allowed us to spend more money with local suppliers and to take on even more retail, café and animal park trainees.

It amazes me how much money the NSW government spends on encouraging tourism growth while simple efforts to mitigate those businesses already in existence are treated with such disrespect.

The RMS are in an incredibly privileged position as the only agency in NSW to be immune from legal challenge by legislation.

That however does not give them to moral right to abuse that trust and to treat local business and MPs with contempt.

I aware of many other people in a similar position to me who have just given up as its all too hard.

More than one health professional has told me that dealing with the RMS has caused severe stress and been detrimental to the health of many of their patients.

I live in hope of a Christmas present from the Minster in the form of a phone call saying "I have asked the RMS to fix this urgently” and some urgent action to at least move a sign or two in time for the New Year rush.

That would be a Merry Christmas for my staff and I.

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