Byron’s clothing optional beach gets a reprieve

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

Attendees at Byron’s inaugural Nude Olympics on Saturday, October 7, ‘blowing the whistle on sexual assault.’ Photo supplied

In a move that has given hope to both Tyagarah residents and naturists, Byron Shire Council yesterday resolved to continue to allow nude bathing on a reduced stretch of Tyagarah Beach, starting 200 metres south of Grays Lane and ending well north of Elements Resort.

The amendment by Cr Basil Cameron, to Cr Paul Spooner’s original motion to close the beach to naturists completely, was carried with the support of Greeens councillors Michael Lyon, Jeanette Martin and Sarah Ndiyae, together with independent Cate Coorey.

The motion commits council, after four years of inaction, to erect signage on the beach within two weeks indicating exactly where the clothing optional section is, and also requires council to review the situation again in three months.

In the meantime, council will liaise with police, naturists and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in an attempt to establish whether there is a more suitable alternative for a less remote clothing optional beach in the shire.

Original motion withdrawn

At the outset of debate, which lasted more than an hour, Cr Spooner announced that he had withdrawn his original motion and posted a new motion that would have allowed nude bathing at an increased number of beaches in the shire (including the whole length of Tyagarah from the existing beach to just short of Brunswick Heads).

But it would have specifically excised popular, if unofficial, clothing optional beaches along Seven Mile Beach Road, including Kings, Brays and Whites.

In a somewhat remarkable turn of events, this move was supported by National Party aligned Cr Alan Hunter, who joked, ‘my family are going to think I’ve turned into a hippy.’

ALP aligned Cr Jan Hackett, who lives in Sunrise and says she has seen naked bathers straying that far south, also supported Cr Spooner’s motion.

Police crackdown

The move follows reports of exhibitionism and sexual harassment of women at the beach, which appear to have increased following police crackdowns at the adjacent tea-tree lakes (which are not part of the declared nudist area).

But it also follows on the heels of the creation of a Safe Beaches liaison committee – comprising police, NPWS, Elements Resort and naturists – earlier this year.

As a result of that group’s formation, police have been given 4WD access onto the beach from Elements Resort and NPWS have erected new signage at the Tyagarah Beach car park and tea-tree lakes spelling out the penalties for offensive behaviour.

White ribbon

In explaining his move, Cr Spooner said he was  a white ribbon ambassador and ‘it would be a contradiction if I didn’t speak out.’

He added, though, that he had ‘visited many nude beaches around the country and overseas.’

‘But I have concluded Tyagarah as a sole location is a mistake and don’t think signage alone will stop negative behaviour.

‘I’m of the opinion we shouldn’t ban [nude bathing] but let’s stop concentrating it on one isolated beach.

‘Nudity on Byron beaches does not offend contemporary standards of behaviour – so it should not be an offence to be naked on the beach or in the ocean,’ he said.

Mayor Richardson agreed the remoteness of Tyagarah was a problem.

‘It’s like putting a skate park in a quiet area and wondering why antisocial behaviour happens,’ he said.

Wreck to Belongil

Councillors Spooner, Hackett and Richardson all said they would like to see the area from the Wreck to Belongil declared clothing optional instead of Tyagarah, as it was closer to the main beaches and police and emergency services would have easier access.

But Cr Ndiyae said she thought that was not a good idea.

‘To have nudists trying to share the dog beach – I don’t know,’ she said.

Council inaction

In proposing his amendment, Cr Cameron said, ‘No matter what we do here today, tomorrow at Tyagarah beach there will be the same sorts of people doing the same sorts of things, behaving inappropriately and getting in the faces of our residents.

‘All efforts [to stop it] have been undermined by the fact that we [council] haven’t put up signs. If we put up signs, the authorities have an ability to enforce them – the police and others can take action.

‘In situations like this, the regulation will come from the community – beach users.

‘I’ve seen beach users really try hard by engaging with NPWS and others but we have to play our part,’ Cr Cameron said.

Despite Cr Spooner accusing Cr Cameron of ‘wimping out’ his amendment found support from Cr Coorey, who said, ‘I think we should be more like Europe than Queensland, where nudity is banned altogether.

‘I like what’s been put forward by Cr Spooner but we don’t have buy-in.

‘What we have is a group of users in Tyagarah that have started working very well. Police have said it would be good if we could define [the clothing optional zone].

‘I would like to see what Spooner’s putting forward be the case once we have seen this work.

She added that ‘conflating two different things, nudity and the behaviour on beach and tea-tree lakes’ was unhelpful.

‘We have to deal with that stuff – and nudity is a separate issue. I would like to see the whole of the shire nude.

‘Prohibition won’t stop the behaviour – it’s the police and the community that will control the behaviour,’ Cr Coorey said.


12 responses to “Byron’s clothing optional beach gets a reprieve”

  1. The Adam and Eve Social Group {from Queensland} have now scheduled to be at the Tyagarah Traditional Beach on the second Sunday of each month in 2018. The Adam and Eve Social Group ran the A-Bay games for over 30 years. It is our intention, with the assistance of locals in the Byron Bay region, to create the B-Bay games. Our A&E flags will denote the safe area where the cluster of Naturists, by weight of numbers, will ensure correct behaviour.

  2. Graeme says:

    Sounds to me like Council is looking to be seen giving optional clothing support , but, in reality is it for a short term and then close it down for the temptation of increased lucrative developments in the area ? I am not a nudist, but, I can see the attraction to others and its part of what Byron is. Leave it alone, put the signs up that should have been there years ago and for some mysterious reason council never followed through.

    • Tony Bowe says:

      Lucrative developments exist side by side with the nude beach at Haulover, Florida & the motels support it with the beach attracting 7,000 to 8,000 nudists on a regular basis.

  3. Nudity should be allowed on all beaches in order to normalise it, instead of just one strip.

    We need coexistence and equality for all, not segregation.

    To regulate social nudity implies that there is something bad or wrong with it, in which there isn’t. It’s a good family friendly activity.

  4. Steven says:

    So hold on. We have to walk even further from the car park just to get to the free clothing section. Sounds like a way for Council to discourage nudists from going there and then claim that no one was using the beach and then have an excuse for ending it. Plus it makes it less safe for users if something does happen and need to reach the car park for safety.
    I do find it most amusing how the Councillors claim to support nudity in Byron but do everything they can to discourage us from enjoying nature. And here is a little tip….. start putting public toilets along the beach so that people do not have to go into the dunes to take care of business. It is a joke that there are no toilets between Main beach and the Grays Lane car park.

  5. We agree, signs should be posted! There should be safe spaces for Naturist Community members!
    Sending ALOHA from Hawaii.

    -Swimfree Hawaii

  6. Tony Bowe says:

    You don’t need “signs” to police offensive behaviour!

  7. Jon says:

    Who said nudiy is banned in Europe? There are nude beaches all over the continent, from Scandinavia, Holland, Riviera, even to the heart of Berlin where people frolic ‘au naturel’ in the Strandbad Wannsee.
    This guy shouldn’t be allowed to make silly statements like this. Who voted for him?

  8. Rudolf Surina says:

    Yes !!!

  9. Steve says:

    Well done Byron Shire for trying to find a solution to the problem rather than resorting to a knee jerk reaction like closing the clothes-optional beach.

    Beach nudity is part of Byron’s vibe and character and is a primary reason why my partner and I visit from Queensland. I’m very glad you won’t let a few bad apples spoil the barrel.

    There obviously are some people mis-using the clothes-optional beach. This needs to stop and is a policing issue. At the other end of the extreme you have the wowsers who are inexplicably still scandalized by the human body and won’t be happy until we are all back in neck-to-knee bathers. Neither end of this spectrum should be accommodated.

    Please retain safe, legal clothes-optional beaches in Byron Shire for locals, visitors and tourists.

  10. Jack says:

    Jon, I think you have misread Cr. Coorey’s statement. I think it was implying that we should not be like Queensland where nudity is banned, but that we should be more like Europe where it is accepted.

  11. Erica says:

    Living a nudist lifestyle is a personal choice. I’m open to it and do not judge others so long as one is respectful of other’s need of privacy. Some men are concerned of their own appearance, especially their size relative to other men. Thus, I do appreciate their sensitivity; my white buddies would never consider bearing their private parts whenever an African-American man is around, for fear or shame of their relative smallness. Asian men are somewhat oblivious to the difference in size and tend to bear all with ease. Women are equally self conscious about their appearances but may not place as much emphasis on absolute size as their male partners. So long as you’re comfortable with your own body, who cares what others may think of you. Live free and long or short if it’s so!

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