Woodburn's Riverside Park, which the council invested $2.2 million into.
Woodburn's Riverside Park, which the council invested $2.2 million into. Susanna Freymark

What will the new bypass mean for this North Coast town?

IT WAS the children arguing in the car that made the Cook family stop at Woodburn.

Their youngest, four-year-old Lachlan, was restless and as he raced to play at what local kids call the "pirate park", his family ate their chips in peace under the new shelters.

They were heading home to Taree and said even when the Pacific Highway bypass was finished next year, they're likely to keep stopping at the adventure park "because of the kids".

Richmond Valley Council built the $2.2 million playground and tourist centre on the banks of the Richmond River and will be pleased to hear the Cook family's verdict.

The idea to transform the riverside evolved from a community consultation process after the need for a "signature drawcard" once the bypass was completed.


Council general manager Vaughan Macdonald said there were many positives to be gained from the bypass, such as the reduction in traffic through Broadwater and Woodburn, which would improve noise and air quality, as well as road safety.

He said this was known as "returning the street" to the community, with the reduction in traffic providing greater encouragement for residents to utilise the main streets of their towns.

Shops such as Iguana Beachwear and Gifts and Revive Hair Salon said the bypass and quieter streets with easier parking would benefit their businesses.

The empty former IGA supermarket is opening again in mid-October.

The cafes have no plans to close, either do the pharmacy or newsagent.

The hardest-hit shops could be the ones selling fried food, pies and quick takeaways. There are three of these in Woodburn's main street, including the bakery.

This part of the retail landscape could be forced to change.

Long-term Woodburn resident Gail Graham said she'd like to see the town take advantage of people travelling in caravans looking for a quiet spot to stop overnight.

The ground area opposite Woodburn Public Pool would be ideal, as it had toilets and a dump point already.

"It is owned by the Education Department," she said.

The caravanners would spend money in Woodburn and help ease the loss of through-town traffic.

The existing Pacific Highway route passes through New Italy, Woodburn and Broadwater.

The council has been actively involved in minimising negative impacts, working closely with Roads and Maritime Services to ensure there is effective advertising and signage to encourage tourism in bypassed towns.

The "pirate park" could be the main reason tourists come to Woodburn.

What do you think? Email rrexp@northernstar.com.au