A Byron Shire Council staff recommendation to revoke the clothing-optional status of Tyagarah Nature Reserve was rejected at yesterday’s Council meeting in favour of stakeholder consultation.
Under the motion, the council may also look at additional or replacement nude-bathing sites to declare.
Council staff recommended the revocation on the grounds that the council never had the power to issue the 15-year-old declaration and alleged a number of ‘antisocial’ incidents at the beach and nearby ti-tree lakes, which were not specified.
During public access, the convenor of the Save Kings Beach and Tyagarah Facebook page, Wayne Penn, posed the question, ‘How can Council seriously entertain making a decision based on a series of unsubstantiated allegations and historic references?’
Staff had also raised the issue of an NPWS officer who was assaulted at the beach several years ago and a claim by an unidentified person that an Indigenous sacred site at the ti-tree lakes had been ‘desecrated’.
‘We, the beach users, feel angry because we think we are being disrespected. We feel marginalised and discriminated against because we are a nudists,’ Mr Penn told councillors.
He added, the proposal ‘flies in the face of everything this region stands for – a celebration of different lifestyles’.
‘There is far too much focus these days on body image, which leads to all manner of health issues. Nudism on the other hand leads to a much healthier body, mind and spirit.’
The issue was dealt with in quick order, with Cr Paul Spooner moving a motion to open community consultation to all stakeholders.
The motion, seconded by Cr Basil Cameron, committed Council to:
1. investigate suitable locations within the shire where clothes-optional bathing may be declared
2. that council consult with clothes-optional bathers, relevant community groups and state agencies regarding the issue of managing antisocial behaviour in regards to clothes-optional bathing within the shire
3. that a report be prepared for councillors to inform determinations regarding current clothes-optional bathing declarations and any proposed future declarations.
The motion was carried, with councillors Cubis, Woods and Hunter voting against.