There was plenty of green space and few houses at Ocean Shores in the early years.
There was plenty of green space and few houses at Ocean Shores in the early years.

'Rough waves' of development

FOR a town with a short history, Ocean Shores has courted its fair share of controversy.

Second stage construction stalled a few years after the estate ‘officially opened’ in 1969 when American developers, Princess Properties, feared the cost of infrastructure to develop the blocks they had bought would be too much and made an offer to ‘buy them back’ from hopeful residential purhasers. The deal fell through.

In the early 1980s, Princess Properties decided to offload its assets to the Bond Corporation, owned by the infamous Alan Bond. It intended to complete the second stage, and a third stage in the north which was to include sportsfields, a district commercial centre, a marina and public services like schools and a hospital.

The second stage went ahead, but the third stage was blocked by environmentalists, who successfully lobbied to have the land turned into the Billinudgel Nature Reserve. The action remains a sore point with many residents today. Former Byron Shire councillor Jan Mangleson said it let down hundreds of people who had bought in goodwill, assuming the facilities would be built: “There was never any thought of compensation for the people of Ocean Shores for missing out,” she said.

The roundhouse site, which originally housed the estate’s administration office, has also been a source of contention.

Residents have lobbied for many years to have the now-vacant block on Orana Rd turned into an art gallery for the shire, but Byron Shire Council has wanted to sub-divide and sell. Dedicating the roundhouse site as a gallery would be the greatest 40th birthday gift council could give to Ocean Shores, Mrs Mangleson said.

Others things on the town’s wish list are footpaths, sportsfields, a service station and a place for young people to gather.

Yet in spite of a few shortcomings, Ocean Shores remains an attractive place to live, being relatively affordable, close to the beach and serviced by a shopping hub with all the essentials.

Judy Anning, who is the town’s longest continuous resident, now has three generations of her family in Ocean Shores. She describes it as her ‘quiet haven’ and loves the relaxed pace of life.

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