Toonumbar Dam near Kyogle.
Toonumbar Dam near Kyogle.

Is this popular eco-retreat doomed to stay closed forever?

Kyogle Council should make "stronger representation" to get the popular Toonumbar Retreat and Toonumbar Dam reopened, says one councillor.

At the council's last meeting, Cr John Burley asked staff why "nothing seems to be eventuating" on the issue.

"It appears as if it may be a lost cause," he said.

"I think we should be making stronger representation about this. Can council have a follow up on what's being done or what's needed?"

A response from council staff will go before the Kyogle Council meeting next week.

It states that the future strategy around the use of Toonumbar Dam, including the possible raising of the dam, was covered in the draft North Coast Regional Water Strategy prepared by the Department of Industry and Environment.

The strategy also provides an opportunity to investigate options to improve the dam's "very low rate of use, reduce its financial burden and maximise the dam's value to support regional economic growth and/or provide community benefits".

Options included in the draft report are to use the dam to augment town water supplies, raising the dam by 6m, and establishing or increasing environmental water releases from major storages.


Kyogle Council would like to see Toonumbar Dam used more often, and for the retreat to reopen.
Kyogle Council would like to see Toonumbar Dam used more often, and for the retreat to reopen.

"Staff have also discussed the possibility of WaterNSW putting forward an application for the Toonumbar Waters Retreat improvements through the recent round of Bushfire Local Economic Funding, as council was not able to apply for funding towards a state-controlled asset," the response explains.

"WaterNSW did not apply.

"However, there is still a separate application pending through the Cross-Border Commissioner Fund supported by both Council and WaterNSW.

"Once the outcome of this application is known, council will need to pursue a commitment from WaterNSW to getting this facility operational again, or reconsider its current position in support of partnering with WaterNSW and investigate alternate pathways to see these improvements prioritised."

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin has been actively working to get the retreat reopened.

In September last year, she had a "productive discussion" with the Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey, to explore options.

"The retreat, which has accommodation for up to 60 people, has amazing potential waiting to be unlocked," Ms Saffin said.

"I appreciate that Minister Pavey recognises that potential as well and has a good understanding of our aspirations."

Ms Saffin said the accommodation was currently not being used and the infrastructure was deteriorating.

"This is such a shame as it once was a fantastic facility in terms of recreational tourism and eco-tourism," she said.