One of Australia’s best-known highway stops is reconsidering its future following the announcement of a highway bypass.
The federal government has allocated $970 million in the 2018 budget to redirect the Pacific Highway around the city of Coffs Harbour.
It will leave the Big Banana about one kilometre away from holiday makers and tourists using the main highway.
General manager Michael Lockman said his team had already been preparing for the day the traffic disappeared.
“We knew the bypass was coming. The land had been acquired some time ago, so we’ve been working on it for five years and we’ll continue to work on it,” he said.
Mr Lockman said the focus now was on making the Big Banana a destination in itself.
“We’ve basically been focusing on really lifting the standards so it makes it a must-stop for people, somewhere they can break that trip whether there’s a bypass or not,” he said.
BUILDING A BYPASS: About a billion dollars iis n the federal budget for the Coffs Harbour Bypass. Does this plan look right to you?(Pic: RMS NSW, 2016)
Long history in region
Originally built in 1964, the Big Banana was redeveloped in 1989 at a cost of $30 million.
The attraction brings up to 900,000 visitors a year and includes plantation tours, an ice rink and a water park.
The Coffs Harbour Visitor Information Centre moved to the site in 2014 to help market the rest of the region to tourists.
The federal government’s early budget announcement drew generally positive feelings from locals.
“There have been innumerable accidents at the Big Banana because it’s a big sweeping bend,” Coffs Harbour resident Elaine Sparrow said.
“Lots of trucks go over that and turn over and lose their load … it’s a bad corner.”
Phil Caldercott said the road was dangerous.
“Getting trucks out of the middle of Coffs Harbour is really important,” he said.
The proposed route of the 14-kilometre bypass was agreed in 2004, but not all residents agree it is the best way to bypass the town.