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May 11, 2021

Nude Olympics overshadowed by prospect of beach ban

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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

Organisers of Saturday’s inaugural Nude Olympics at Byron’s Belongil Beach say they are already planning for next year’s event.

But those plans may have to be put on hold if a motion before Byron Shire Council  to ban nude bathing at the beach is successful.

Cr Paul Spooner says in the comments attached to his notice of motion for the October 26 meeting, ‘While I am not against clothes optional bathing on our beaches it seems blatantly clear to me that the isolated location at [Belongil and] Tyagarah has unfortunately encouraged negative social behaviour and has made the location undesirable for many people to now use as a public beach.’

But local naturist Wayne Pendobny, who runs the Save Kings Beach and Belongil/Tyagarah Nature Reserve Facebook page, told Echonetdaily, that ‘banning a perfectly natural pastime is not the Byron way’

When there were a series of serious alcohol-related assaults in Byron Bay, we didn’t close the pubs. We looked at ways to minimise the dangerous behaviours while allowing people to continue to enjoy a couple of quiet drinks,’ he said.

‘To put this in perspective, this is the only legally declared nude beach for 3,000 kilometres from Coffs Harbour to Cape York,’ he added.

Blowing the whistle

Mr Pendobny used Saturday’s gathering to launch a petition to keep the beach open, and a ‘blow the whistle on sexual assault’ campaign to empower beach users to counter unwanted sexual advances.

‘When this issue last came up in 2013, councillors, including Cr Spooner, resolved to investigate alternative locations for a clothing optional beach closer to town, consult with nude bathers and obtain an options report from staff.

‘Needless to say, none of that ever happened – and now Cr Spooner wants to remove the beach declaration with practically no notice.

‘The fact is, council has broken faith with nude bathers and, if Cr Spooner’s plan is followed, will abrogate its responsibility towards women who have been on the receiving end of very predatory sexual behavior by simply handing the whole matter over to the police.

‘I believe the community can act to protect women without succumbing to the easy option of making all naturist beach users law-breakers and the subject of police attention.’

He said the whistle idea came from 1990s Sydney, ‘when gay men were being routinely assaulted on the streets. Simply by the wearing of whistles, and using them when they were being harassed, we were able to dramatically reduce the number and severity of assaults, even without police intervention.’

Development plans

‘We know, of course, that there are developers keen to pounce on Grays Lane to turn it into yet another Byron suburb,’ Mr Pendobny added.

‘Just last year we rallied against a proposal to put 100 houses on the hill overlooking Tyagarah beach.

‘Developers such as this one would love nothing more than to see the clothing optional status of that beach revoked.’

Mr Pendobny’s change.org petition can be found here.

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  1. I am a nude bather from way back Wayne, in fact my ancestors were proudly naked when European’s sailed to our shores.
    Unfortunately our people had to move forward with the times and put clothes on!
    Byron is continuing to change and sadly our beaches are over crowded, polluted, full of dog poo and people with inappropriate behaviour.
    If I had a whistle at Tyagarah or Kings I would be making a hell of a noise due to all the sick perverts hiding in the dunes and bushes doing disgusting things while I sun bathe!
    I want to return to Tyagarah & Kings beaches, I want to take my family and especially my grand children to enjoy these special places that are culturally important to my people.
    But I cant Wayne because of the changing nature of Byron…
    I support Byron Council in making our public beaches safer for all locals and visitors.

    • Hi Delta, while I do feel your concern, if the solution was as simple as banning nude bathing on the beach, then why hasn’t it worked at the Tyagarah ti-tree lakes which, despite a concerted campaign and regular police visits still attracts sexual predators from time to time?
      When visiting those lakes, several of my friends who want nothing more than a refreshing naked dip in the water have been hauled up by police, forced to show their ID, had their names and addresses taken down by the police and then told to get dressed and go home.
      Unfortunately, this is the future that awaits all of us regular naturist users of the beach if nude bathing is banned.
      And if those naturists who go there regularly are marginalised and move on, who then will be there to stand up and help out?
      I have a number of ideas for community actions that I believe could make the beach a far nicer place for everyone – beginning with council clearly delineating the clothing optional area.

  2. Well at least people who don’t want to put up with these so called perverts have many options when it comes to going to a different beach in the shire.
    Unfortunately for the naturist’s who love Tyagarah beach and do the right thing , well they don’t have so many options do they!
    There is always two sides of a story , let’s find a solution that sits well with everyone!

  3. I notice that once again the Echo added Belongil Beach to Tyagarah Beach when talking about clothes optional beaches! This is a big part of the problem. Many nature lovers find it easier to use Belongil and North Beach than to go to Tyagarah. When asked to move on they stand their ground and claim Belongil as their territory, some quite aggressively. I know there has been poor and threatening behaviour on the walking tracks at Tyagarah, and maybe that’s why the nudists themselves have moved on down to the closest public beaches. The trouble with this is that the poorly behaved have followed. I’ve seen heavily occupied North Beach in front of Elements, basically emptied by idiots exposing themselves sexually. We need both family friendly public beaches and nudist beaches clearly designated and separate. Mixing doesn’t seem to work. If the Tyagarah nature lovers stayed on their patch it wouldn’t need to be closed.


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