Residents of the area known as Hydes Creek don't actually live there.
In 2006, when localities in Bellingen Shire were being defined and gazetted, the Geographical Names Board drew a magical line across Hydes Creek Rd and resettled folks south of it into Bellingen and north of it into Valery.
Since then Hydes Creek has existed only as a watercourse and as an unofficial ‘rural place’.
Quite apart from the loss of a community identity dating back to 1889, and the failure to recognise a socially cohesive group that historically had its own school, telephone exchange and volunteer bushfire brigade, this also poses a problem in terms of emergency services.
The Telstra directory doesn’t have Hydes Creek listed as a valid address, and in 2015 this led to a situation where Triple Zero dispatched the Valery brigade to a vehicle accident that had occurred just 100 metres from the Hydes Creek fire shed.
“The delay in response could be life threatening,” Kerry Child wrote in a submission to council’s Land Information Officer, Barry Fenning, requesting that council ask the Geographical Names Board to reinstate the Hydes Creek area. “Valery were called out as the database did not recognise our brigade.”
That submission, backed by 40 letters from residents, was dated March 2016 and since then there has been a certain amount of negotiation regarding exactly where the boundary lines should be drawn.
But on May 23 the matter finally came to a council meeting, and councillors voted unanimously to “submit an application to proceed with creating the locality of Hydes Creek as identified as the ‘Proposed Boundary’ given the level of existing community support for the proposal”.
The southern boundary separating the localities of Bellingen and Hydes Creek has been the most troublesome.
Council’s concern was that location boundaries should not bisect any properties and should also take into account the likely expansion of the township, given that much of the land is able to be subdivided into one-hectare rural residential blocks.
The start of Hydes Creek Rd (where it joins North Bank Rd) and later the bridge over Frenchman’s Creek were suggested and rejected as the southern boundary.
The boundary that received the nod at the council meeting means the new area of Hydes Creek begins about 1.5km along Hydes Creek Rd.
This leaves 13 properties on both sides of the road, from numbers 60 and 69 up to numbers 156 and 157, in the locality of Bellingen.
The properties north of that, running up to 848 Hydes Creek Rd, will be in Hydes Creek, if the proposal is approved by the Geographical Names Board, and beyond that is Valery.
Kerry Child said residents were “happy and relieved” action was finally being taken, but also disappointed that the area would be smaller than they had requested.
“This locality has a long and proud history in the early development of the Bellinger River as well as being a close and active community today,” she said.
“It is unfortunate that the residents were not consulted when the name was removed several years ago and the area was split into Bellingen and Valery.
“We are also disappointed that the new proposed area does not cover the original area that was recognised as the Hydes Creek locality, but we had to make compromises for it to be supported by council."
The agenda for the May 23 council meeting contains the map pictured here of the southern boundary alteration, with the explanation that follows:
“The map above shows an extract from Bellingen Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2010 depicting Lot Size information (Pink and Mauve shading), the submitted boundary (Maroon), the proposed boundary (Red, based on the Geographical Names Board guidelines) and the State Forest Land (Green).
“The following comments were provided to the proponent in April 2016.
‘In assessing the submitted boundary the 2 lots shown in yellow on the plan would be bisected. Which is contrary (Principle 6.8.5 b) as outlined above, this led to the proposed boundary being moved to follow the Northern boundary of both of these lots.’
‘The area shown in mauve on the Plan has a minimum Lot Size of 1 ha for subdivision under BLEP 2010. The Plan shows 13 lots, depicted with house numbers, between the proposed and submitted locality boundaries. These 13 lots, under the current subdivision minimum lot size could yield in the order of 40 lots, as predicted by Council’s Growth Management Strategy.’
‘This means that based on land area only there is potential for this area to accommodate a more intensive settlement pattern, which change the areas of common community interest and therefore may prompt future changes of the boundary between Bellingen and Hydes Creek.’
‘The challenge of changing property addresses from Bellingen to Hydes Creek and back to Bellingen again is something that could be avoided by having a boundary that follows the northern boundary of properties 156 and 157 Hydes Creek Road. There is also a road reserve which runs north and west of 157 Hydes Creek Road, which is located generally along a ridgeline and is the first point where both sides of Hydes Creek Road are contained within the Hydes Creek catchment.’”