New Lennox Head recreational area for families at Lake Ainsworth.
New Lennox Head recreational area for families at Lake Ainsworth.

It was a long, bitter road to get to a peaceful place

IT was one of most divisive issues in Lennox Head.

Not that you can tell now, as a path meanders peacefully among trees beside Lake Ainsworth.

This was the site of the eastern road.

The cars are long gone.

The arguments have been presented - loss of car parking and reduced lake access in one corner; pedestrian safety and health of the lake in the other.

Those arguments got very heated. That's really an understatement.

But the arguments for the now-peaceful park won out.

Ballina's mayor, Cr David Wright, copped a fair bit of stick over the years for his support of the project.

He is pleased with the result, which is all-but finished.

He said he visited the lake twice a day over the peak holiday period.

"There have been lots of families, and kids learning to ride their bikes and scooters," he said.

Ballina Shire Council decided late last year to keep the dogs out, and Cr Wright said most dog-owners were doing the right thing.

And those who weren't were moving on without fuss, he noticed.

This weekend's Australia Day will be a test, though.

In the past, Lake Ainsworth has been popular among young people - and it was the scene of a brawl years ago.

Cr Wright doesn't seem to think that is likely this year.

There hasn't been any trouble for years.

But Australia Day this year creates a long weekend

So there is a big chance Lennox Head and its lake will be a popular destination.

The lake itself currently is closed to swimming due to a blue-green algae outbreak, which may turn some people away.

However, the parkland still offers a place to picnic.

So Australia Day will be a test.

Will the car parking around the lake meet the demand? Will the parkland be popular?

That will be a case of wait-and-see.

Either way, the park itself offers some peace from the divisions of the past.

One thing is for sure: The volunteers and council staff who each year come in to clean the place up after Australia Day can only hope that anyone who heads to the lake takes their garbage with them.