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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

What is the Byron way? How to make clothes-optional beaches safe

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Attendees at Byron's inaugural Nude Olympics on Saturday (October 7) 'blowing the whistle on sexual assault.' Photo supplied
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Aslan Shand

Sexual intimidation, assault and rape are totally unacceptable on beaches or anywhere else. Being naked doesn’t lead to sexual perversion. However, the isolated location and lack of proper safety measures has led to residents, council members and other members of the community to question the decision to create a clothes-optional beach in 1998 from Grays Lane in Tyagarah for 1.3km towards Byron Bay. 

Creating a safe clothes-optional beach is the responsibility not only of Byron Shire Council, the police and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) but also the community.

In response to Wayne Pendobny’s comment on Echonetdaily that ‘banning a perfectly natural pastime is not the Byron way’ Byron Councillor Paul Spooner has said that he doesn’t think keeping your head in the sand and ignoring sexual assault on our public beaches is a very ‘Byron way”’ either. 

The reality is that both comments are equally valid. Byron Shire can not afford to stick it’s head in the sand, but neither should it be forced to let go of a fine tradition of nudity and its clothes-optional beach that many locals have fought long and hard for over the years. 

The big question for Byron Shire councillors at the upcoming council meeting on the 26 October – that will see Councillor Paul Spooners notice of motion (NoM) to remove the clothes-optional bathing area at Tyagarah debated – is, what is the best way forward to meet all the needs of the Byron Shire community.

Four years ago the council committed to placing clear signs identifying the clothes-optional bathing area and community consultation that has’t happened, said Wayne who runs the Save Kings Beach and Belongil/Tyagarah Nature Reserve Facebook page.

There is strong support both locally and more broadly for clothes-optional beaches in the Byron Shire with the recent change.org petition ‘Retain Tyagarah clothing-optional beach’ having gathered over 800 signatures. 

Without any support from council, and despite years of council inaction, naturist beach goers are starting to come together with ideas of how we can make our beach safer,’ he continued.


Debbra Conomy from the local Beach Safe committee also highlighted that the police want clear signage to delineate the clothes-optional area as well as people to report any inappropriate activities.

‘Many people haven’t reported incidents in the past as they were concerned that it might lead to loosing the clothes-optional beach,’ she said. 

‘The Beach Safe committee have met with the police who’ve highlight the importance of reporting any incidents to the police. 

‘Call 000 and report it.’

Confusion has been and continues to be expressed by both locals and visitors about where the clothes optional area of the beach is.

We have indicated a willingness to go naked only within the defined boundaries,’ continued Wayne. 

‘If council and the NPWS can simply agree to put up some signage to show where they are.’


Both the Wayne and Debbra have come up with a range of community solutions that they believe could help. Both have suggested having a roster of people who are willing to create a safe zone, identified with flags, for people who wish to enjoy the beach in their natural state. Wayne has also suggested the idea of  a ‘blow the whistle on sexual assault’ campaign to empower beach users to counter unwanted sexual advances.

The Safe Beach committee are also looking at other solutions including beach patrols and leaflet campaigns while other suggestions include creating regular family friendly events and taking a photo or film footage of offensive behaviour and reporting it to the police. 

Suggestions that the clothes optional beaches be moved closer to Byron Bay such as north of the Wreck or south of the Byron Lighthouse have also been put forward. However, Debbie from Safe Beaches said ‘I truly don’t want to see it moved. That would be counter-productive’ the community needs to deal with the problems that they already have there and create an example of how to provide safe clothes-optional beaches.

If you interested in finding out more contact the Naturist Friends of Belongil Beach Byron Bay or the Save Kings Beach and Belongil/Tyagarah Nature Reserve Facebook pages. 

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  1. I visited the beach back in march this year when I was up there for the world naked bike ride and to be perfectly honest I didn’t know where the boundaries were, so I when I went on the beach I saw naked and clothed people to the North and South of the track to the beach from the car park so I went North about 100m to a clear spot and setup my beach tent… Have only just found out it is a small section to the South of the track!

    Every other legal nude beaches I’ve been to (all in National Parks) have clear signage outlining exactly where the nude section is as well as some having signs with contact numbers to report suspicious activities..

    Come on Byron Bay Council/NPWS get your act together!

    I am planning on visiting the beach again next month so make sure it’s done by then ok? 🙂

  2. The mixed messages that men are faced with daily are going to continue to divide opinions on sex and this obsession with ignoring masculinity and femininity to be PC in our society has become laughable. It’s this repression that allowed trump to be elected. It’s why Weinstein has been successful – and why so many actresses have had careers beyond their dreams because of him. Freedom only exists within the bounds of an authority granted to police it. So if women want to take their clothes off in public then they should either hire body guards or expect signficant unwanted (or wanted ) attention.

    • Hmmm, Gone Green, It seems as if you are somehow lost in last century. The change in community attitudes is why Weinstein is where he is now – in court.
      Yes, there are still a lot of out of date troglodytes hanging around who need to be shown that their behaviour is unacceptable and illegal.
      After my daughter was accosted (assaulted) some years ago in short shorts and t-top – not on the beach – I pointed out it was not her fault – she SHOULD have been able to walk naked down the street safely, but the reality is that she needed to take precautions.
      The idea of bodyguards is extreme, but community support is good. And the idea of taking photos is a good one – if someone approaches, point the camera at him immediately, he won’t hang around if his approach is not welcome. You don;t even need to take a picture, but you’re ready if you do need to. Especially if you use a mobile phone and can post the pic immediately.
      And a whistle around your neck is not clothing, but sends a strong signal in more ways than one.
      A few random visits by supportive police might also send a strong message.

      • @Richard Swinton and @The Local Guy – I personally don’t care what people do or do not wear and make no moral point about what “should” or should not be done. I am stating what I see as the reality and applying a practical recommendation. This is in contrast to what I see as the moralising liberal that lives in a vacuum and somehow thinks they are entitled to the niceties of the world on a platter. (Suggestion – maybe do some traveling away from Byron/Australia sometime to see what the other 99.999% of the world looks like.)
        It’s a nice idea to think that men “should” restrain themselves in all circumstances, but it won’t happen. And so I will recommend to my daughter as she matures (13 next year) that she take appropriate precautions and ultimately be responsible for herself in a world that has a lot of beauty and a lot of crap.

        You can use the word misogyny if you want to degrade your argument accordingly, but for the history of mankind (and the foreseeable future), men have and are going continue to get erections and have an overwhelming desire to stick them somewhere. The double standard of wanting to be free and easy and expecting men to control themselves reeks of naivety, like so much PC garbage that is espoused in the Australian media.
        I could just as well argue that my freedom to be sexually expressive at the beach is at least as important as your freedom to reject me.

        • Gone green,

          Your comments are incredibly outdated and offensive, and it’s the reason why that many women and families do not want to attend nude beaches anymore.

          Unlike you, many guys these days know the difference between nudity and sexuality and know how to behave accordingly at beaches whether nude or textile.

          There are times and places where it’s okay to behave sexually, and a nude beach is NOT the place. Try a sex club or a swingers club, but even then they have their rules and regulations as well and the golden rule is: “No means NO.”

          Men who lack self-control in the presence of nude girls and women are NOT real men, they are overgrown little six year old boys who have never been taught the art of body acceptance and appreciation.

          I seriously think that you re-think your outlook on life if you do not want to end up on the sex offenders register.

          Begone from here!

  3. Back in the early 1990’s a girl could happily dose naked at Belongil, surrounded by other frolicking naked people everywhere. It was safe and unpretentious. Innocent even. But once big money came to town and forced naked bathing to the fringes of the beaches, the predators arrived in droves.

    I have not visited the clothes optional beaches for many years due to the prevalence of sexual predators and/or naked lonely old men with half-mast erections lurking, or parading up and down the beaches leaving one to feel VERY unsafe.

    I like the idea of creating and patrolling “Safe naked between the flags” areas where locals can swim and sunbathe naked without fear of harassment or worse. And blow the whistle on predatory behaviour. Hand out free whistles for beachgoers. Lets get together community and make this happen. Imagine a return to the days of swimming naked at Tyagarah, unharassed and safe. Surely we can make it happen?

  4. The above comment demonstrates the personalities attracted to Tyagarah beach. Gone Green seems to be a bit confused that male and female sexuality is not about PC repression but respect. Following up with the argument that Harvey Weinstein and his predatory behaviour has enabled women to be successful in film is disturbing.

    Attitudes around the naked body need to be accepting and appreciative but especially respectful. A Women shouldn’t feel like she is on show or expect unwanted attention that is invasive clothes on or off. An under current tone of misogyny is present in labelling the need for protection via bodyguards cause to be honest it is society who should be accountable.

    I am a man who lives locally and I often have been uncomfortable with the sexualised nudity down the beach. It feels like a parade at times and I have also got unwanted attention, especially if I am with a female. It is not an issue of masculinity and Femininity it is about learning boundaries of respect and not behaving like a pervert.

  5. For Pete’s sake, leave the pervs to their fun. They’re usually hidden away up in the dunes anyway and you have to look hard to find them. Why bother?

  6. BYRON BAY – BE AWARE > That an unincorporated group of people are about to become an Incorporated Tax Exempt Public Company with “Objects” which will include the maintenance, signage and patrol of a space of land known as Belongil Beach – the only designated “Naturist/Nudist” location.

    They, as a body of people, will document and endeavour to prosecute any person, or couple, who indulge in “aggravated” activity on that section of beach. The meaning of the dictionary word POLICE in this respect is an action word and not a noun. “the regulation and control of a community, especially for the maintenance of public order, safety, health, morals, etc.”

    The location WILL be restored to a “Family Friendly” and safe location for those who enjoy the lifestyle.

    I therefore request that ALL local authorities, especially those in local Government, to allow this Legal and Community Entity to take breath and begin a valuable function. There is no rush to remove this beach from your books. It is known Nationally. More news will appear on this via this forum and local media.

  7. Would it be reasonable for the police to shut down a highway because a few people choose to speed? Wouldn’t they just deal with the speeders? Would it be reasonable for the police to close a shopping centre because a few people shoplift? Wouldn’t they just deal with the shoplifters? Why on earth is it reasonable that the police (or Council) close a designated clothes-optional beach because a few people are breaking the law?

    Normal, garden-variety nudists are being asked to step up and self-police the clothes-optional beach by reporting illegal activity. That’s fine… but can we PLEASE avoid a headline in six months time saying “Upsurge in deviant activity reported on clothes-optional beach”. Nudists will be willing to report illegal activity only if those very reports are not used to close their beach.

    I call on the police and Byron Shire Council to support genuine nudists as they seek to have deviants and criminals using the beach prosecuted. Please don’t punish all beach users because of the actions of a few.


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