IT'S no contest. If you want to traumatise yourself looking for a place to park your car, bypass Byron Bay in summer and Lismore Square on a market day - head to Uralba Street and try your luck getting a spot outside Lismore Base Hospital.
Of 131 comments on a post on The Northern Star's Facebook page asking readers to name the worst place for parking on the Northern Rivers, well over half named the Base Hospital as their personal parking nightmare.
"Walking up that freakin' hill while nine months pregnant...not good," noted one commenter. "I am surprised I didn't give birth before I got to my appointment - and they wonder why my blood pressure was so high."
However, one local has a plan to fix the Base Hospital's parking woes - sort of - and it doesn't need massive spending on new buildings. Marshall Fittler just needs a mini-bus and a few volunteers.
Mr Fittler, the head of community health group Crackin' Cancer, is trying to get support to start a volunteer-run mini-bus that could pick up people from around the hospital and ferry them up.
Mr Fittler said he imagined the bus could patrol the streets around the Lismore Base and St Vincent's Private hospitals and ferry patients between the two. The bus itself would need to be no larger than a 12-seater, so it could be driven without requiring a special licence.
Passengers would be asked to make a gold coin donation towards the bus, which would go to cover the cost of things such as petrol, insurance, and registration.
Prices for mini-buses vary, but as an example, a new Toyota Coaster 12-seater minibus starts at $179,000 new, although second-hand prices can be much lower.
Mr Fittler said he was hoping to secure the funding for the bus through donations or government grants.
So far, Crackin' Cancer had approached Lismore MP Thomas George and Page MP Kevin Hogan. Both had expressed support for the plan, but neither had been able to put any money forward.
Plans for a Hospital Bus Ball to raise money for it had also so far failed to get off the ground.
That left community donations as the most promising source of potential funding for the bus.
Anyone who would like to make a donation or volunteer as a driver should phone Mr Fittler on 0411 840 797.
Some of other places it's no fun to look for a carpark at (in no particular order):
- Main street of Casino
- Bangalow, particularly along Byron Street
- Byron Bay - particularly along the beach in summer
- St Vincent's Private Hospital, Lismore
- Lennox Head during holiday times
- The Bentley blockade
- Kyogle IGA
- Casino Public School
- Woodlark Street, Lismore
- Woolworths, Casino
- Lismore Central shopping centre
- Lismore Post Office
- River Street, Ballina
- Alstonville Public School
- Lismore Square on Market Sunday
- The Pass at Byron Bay
- Ballina Central shopping centre
- Main Street, Alstonville