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Time and Tide Again: A History of Byron Bay
Time and Tide Again
Maurie Ryan's first history of Byron Bay, Time and Tide, published in 1984, was a classic. Now he and Robert Smith have done it again; extended the history to the 21st century, with more detail and illustrations, but with the same verve and informality.
One of the things that becomes clear in their account is the way in which people have constantly been searching for a way to make a living on the north coast of New South Wales. The Aboriginal Bundjalung nation was first. Then came the cedar-getters who chopped away their own livelihood. Then the dairy farmers, but by the 1950s they were the most poverty-stricken social groups in the state. Beef cattle followed, but most of the farms were too small to support a viable industry. The whalers arrived in 1954, but were gone by 1962. then came the fruit-growers: avocados, custard apples, lychees, soft fruits of all sorts. Some have survived, but disease and unpredictable markets took their toll. The macadamia farms have done the best of all, mainly in the hands of big plantation owners. Tea trees had a brief heyday. The soils, social structures, and comparatively extreme climate of the region have somehow combined to make Byron Bay and its hinterland a bloody hard place to survive in. Until now, when the region has finally discovered what it is best for. Living. Sheer living.
As millions of holiday makers, tourists, backpackers, young people, ferals, retirees, alternative lifestyle people, hobby farmers, artists, and locals (the buzzy Byron mix) have found, this is the place to be to have a good time. Lifestyle is not a dirty word. There mightn't be much work in Byron, still, but there is just about everything else. It is a great place to live. Maurie Ryan's and Robert Smith's history documents how this amazing sea change has come about, and how a hard place has been transformed into what many young people lightheartedly call arcadia/nirvana/utopia/the raindbow region. It's a story worth knowing.
Maurice Ryan, and Robert Smith,
Time and Tide Again: A History of Byron Bay.
21cm x 29.8cm
pb. xiv +146pp.
ISBN: 0 957 96220 7

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