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April 22, 2021

Byron nudist beach closure mooted

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We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.
Chris Dobney

A Facebook group that came together earlier this year to oppose the closure of Kings Beach car park has reactivated following the announcement that Byron Shire Council is considering ending 15 years of legal nude bathing at Tyagarah Nature Reserve.

Council will consider the controversial staff recommendation to revoke its clothing-optional status, declared in 1998, at its meeting tomorrow.

The report authored by compliance team leader David Murray recommends the ending of Council-sanctioned nude beachgoing on the grounds that the council has no control over the nature reserve.

‘Council currently does not have care, control or management of that part of the beach that has been declared as clothes optional. Land management in this area rests with three state government agencies – Crown Lands (NSW Trade and Investment), National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Marine Parks Authority (MPA),’ it says.

Tourist cabins

But a spokesperson for the Save Kings Beach group said the motion is aimed at ‘sanitising the rainbow region and turning it into a reflection of the Gold Coast’.

Wayne Penn said, ‘what attracts people to this area is its tolerance for the kaleidoscope of people from all walks of life’.

‘In terms of the timing, it is interesting to note that one of Australia’s richest men is planning a 75-cabin tourist development behind the southern section of the clothing-optional beach.’

‘It is disappointing that Byron Shire Council, which claims it supports alternative lifestyles, should allow itself to fall victim to puritanical elements,’ he added.

‘This report identifies just one single specific complaint, which has been kept secret, and refers to a doof party, which doubtless would have taken place whether the beach was declared clothing optional or not,’ Mr Penn said.

The report points to unspecified acts of ‘antisocial behaviour’ and mentions a confidential complaint by an Indigenous community member claiming ‘desecration of a significant Aboriginal women’s site’.

‘This area (ie the clothes-optional beach and the nearby ti-tree lakes in Tyagarah Nature Reserve) now appears to have become a focal point for antisocial behaviour, with frequent complaints made to Council and to the police. In addition to the antisocial behaviour described in complaints, this area has also been subjected to illegal “doof” parties,’ it states.

Kings Beach car park

The report also mentions plans by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to close the car park at Kings Beach for ‘repairs and rehabilitation’ purposes (its quotation marks) and continues, ‘complaints about the proposal to close the Kings Beach car park could be mitigated by there being a clothes-optional beach available elsewhere in the shire, which is seen to be the responsibility of Byron Shire Council’.

While NPWS never mentioned concerns about antisocial activity at Kings Beach in its plan, one board member privately told this author there were hopes the longer proposed walk to the beach would deter ‘those kind of people’.

The report attempts to deflect anticipated criticism of its actions by stating the council never had jurisdiction over the area to declare it in the first place.

‘This report and its recommendation do not demonstrate that Council adopts either an anti or pro clothes-optional beach position. They simply recognise that Council has no jurisdiction to declare this part of the beach as clothes optional, nor does it have the means to enforce or regulate this,’ it reads.

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