Rob Schwamberg at Byron View Farm, where rainforest plantings have been under way. Picture: Liana Boss
Rob Schwamberg at Byron View Farm, where rainforest plantings have been under way. Picture: Liana Boss

Picturesque wedding venue replanting Big Scrub rainforest

It's a spot where couples have been tying the knot in a picturesque setting for 10 years.
And the owners have other goals for the property, but planning rules are standing in the way.

Byron View Farm had a development application for proposed glamping facilities go before Byron Shire Council's March planning meeting.

The DA was refused, but Rob Schwamberg and his daughter Billie are hopeful to have the area rezoned.

At the council's meeting, Byron View Farm's town planner, Dwayne Roberts of Ardill Payne & Partners, spoke of the Schwambergs' passion for bush regeneration, notable for "one of the most valuable properties in the shire".

>> Controversy over one of shire's 'most valuable properties'

Rainforest plantings have been under way at Byron View Farm at McLeods Shoot. Picture: Liana Boss
Rainforest plantings have been under way at Byron View Farm at McLeods Shoot. Picture: Liana Boss


Mr Schwamberg said aside from small-scale weddings, the McLeods Shoot property was mostly cattle grazing land until recently.

He sold the Angus herd earlier this month.

"I sold the whole herd two weeks ago," he said.

He said they would be replaced with a herd of alpacas, known for their "soft footprint" and to be kept for their fleece.

Kallen Marecic from Mullumbimby-based organisation Reforest Now said it was heartening to see landowners' values shift toward planting out parts of the cleared landscape.

Mr Marecic was at the property with a team planting out more than 3000 trees and shrubs on Monday.

 

 

"It's a big transition; they have income from that previous land use and by reforesting they're not really getting anything out of their land (economically) so it's great to see that transition of mindset," he said.

Rob and Billie Schwamberg at Byron View Farm, where rainforest plantings have been under way. Picture: Liana Boss
Rob and Billie Schwamberg at Byron View Farm, where rainforest plantings have been under way. Picture: Liana Boss


He said they were planting about 150 subtropical species.

 

While there were historically incentives to completely clear the landscape, Mr Schwamberg said they wanted to care for the property and keeping cattle - with their high water needs and methane output - was not in keeping with their goals.

"Cows are really detrimental to the planet in a huge way," he said.

Mr Schwamberg said while their DA for eight "safari tents" was refused by the council, he was hopeful the proposal would be possible in the future.

He said one of the proposed tents would be used for yoga and other similar uses while another would be for couples only.

"It's not a party farm at all," he said.

Genevieve Davis at Byron View Farm, where rainforest plantings have been under way. Picture: Liana Boss
Genevieve Davis at Byron View Farm, where rainforest plantings have been under way. Picture: Liana Boss

 

The council's staff found the proposal did not meet the definition of a "primitive campground" and therefore could not be allowed under the current scenic escarpment zoning.

Mr Schwamberg said he disagreed with this finding but was hopeful zoning could be adjusted.

Broadly speaking, councillors supported the idea of the proposal but agreed it should be refused under current zoning.

They voted to refuse the DA for a number of reasons and noted the "alleged unauthorised use of the land as a wedding venue" and the construction of two of the proposed safari tents, without consent.

One of the workers at Byron View Farm, where rainforest plantings have been under way. Picture: Liana Boss
One of the workers at Byron View Farm, where rainforest plantings have been under way. Picture: Liana Boss

Those matters are to be "referred to council's community enforcement team to further investigate and commence enforcement action as required or necessary in the circumstances of the case.

Mr Schwamberg said they had never attracted a single complaint in relation to their operations as a wedding venue and said the decision would not impact currently planned weddings for the site.



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