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March 3, 2024

Nude sunbathers at Bruns beach cop $500 fines

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Brunswick Heads Beach looking south along the 10-kilometre expanse to Byron Bay. Photo Cristina Sharratt

A Byron shire woman and her male friend were shocked to be fined $500 each after police confronted them as they sat naked sunbathing in an isolated part of Brunswick Heads beach recently.

The two friends told Echonetdaily they were just doing what they’d been doing for years: sunbathing in an area south of the dog-exercise area of Brunswick Heads beach in the middle of December, well away from where people swim or surf.

‘We didn’t see the police patrol coming, they stopped their four-wheel drive and asked for our ID then told us it was illegal to be naked on that beach,’ the woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said.

‘They said we would be fined for offensive behaviour in a public place, but we see the $500 fine as much more offensive, it’s a lot of money for a misdemeanour.’

The two said they would pay the fine but wanted to warn others who frequent the beach and also swim or sunbathe naked of the hefty fine they could face.

‘We’ll have to pay it, there’s no point fighting it, but we want to make others aware of the issue,’ one said.

They said nude bathing or sunbathing in that area was ‘very normal for Brunswick, it’s part of what people here do’.

‘I have been doing this every day for five years, my friend for ten years.

‘I thought I was safe well away from Tyagarah Beach [the shire’s official clothes-optional beach] where the voyeurs and perverts tend to go, it’s one of the reasons I don’t go there, as I just feel safer in this spot, well away from people,’ she said.

The woman said she had been told by the officer who wrote the fine that police were acting in response to complaints from a local horse riding school.

  • The original version of this story said the two people arrested were both male.


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  1. Serious load of crap
    Revenue raising is all that is about….
    If they felt they needed to intrude then just hand out a warning not a bloody fine
    Bah humbug…..

  2. Surely the coppers have more useful tasks to perform in society than fining two isolated people. Draconian enforcement that creates no goodwill or respect between the public and the Police.

  3. Surely the Police have better things to do, how can a naked woman on an isolated beach be offensive. Wicked Weasel (Byron) shares may rise. Micro bikinis are legal, so go figure. The patrolling police are the real pervs in this instance.

    Tony Abbott in speedos, now that is a real crime.

  4. I would fight it in court as who did you offend. No one.

    The police would have to prove offensive behavior.

    You were in a deserted area with a friend.

    • I’m with you on this one. It must have been a very slow day for the ‘Nudie Police’ as they went about their daily and very important duty of Beach Stroll and Patrol. Lucky then that Byron and surrounds has no crime that allows the Police to hit.deserted beaches.and crackdown on…’offensive behaviour’, yes.

    • I believe you could successfully fight it in court. Police need to prove they were actually offended by your behaviour (as no-one else was around they are the only ones who can claim to have been offended.

  5. This is just outrageous! $500 for what?
    Just another example of police officers doing everything but to serve and protect.
    Why not make the whole stretch of beach South of the dog exercise area to Tyagarah clothes optional? There are hardly any people there and because it is so spread out it wouldn’t be like a“hot spot“ for perverts and voyeurs as Tyagarah seems to be. At least no one could be charged with such a ridiculous fine for isolated nude sun bathing!

    • I agree. In fact make all beaches clothing optional, and instead create clothing required stretches around dog-walking areas and patrolled beaches or other areas with heavy traffic. That way people who are offended or insulted at the sight of skin don’t have to worry about seeing some dangly bits.

      We should be looking to normalise the human body, rather than taking this quasi-religious puritanical world view that the human body is something to be ashamed of. What we should be ashamed of is the growing gap between the police department and the community they are supposed to be working with, rather than stadning over.

      I don’t go to clothing optional beaches because I am not that comfortable with the cruising aspect of it all, but there is nothing finer than having a nude swim and feeling the water surrounding your body. I wish I could do it every day!

  6. Oh my God, people without clothes at the beach !!! More signs of the end of Byron as we knew it. It has been the done thing for decades, as long as you didn’t flaunt it. Once again, it’s good to see the Police after hard-core crims !!!

  7. And they keep trying to tell us that our freedoms are not being reduced and our livestyle is not under threat….nsw the goddam police state bring in the army to patrol our beaches you morons …and yes we pay taxes for this…the cops obviously have very little REAL policework to do…shame on you! all for money you cant really believe in what you have done

  8. I don’t find the human body offensive. There’s much around that is that seems to be legal tho. Sick, sick world. A sad day for Byron. What will happen at our nude protests, bike rides etc?

  9. Ridiculous fine. They weren’t hurting anyone, and we’re minding their own bees wax. What about the woman who lay on the beaches topless? They don’t seem to get fined. So much for freedom in this country

  10. It is absolutely ridiculous for the women to be fined for just sunbathing in a secluded section of beach
    I would definitely fight it and get the police to prove they were offensive
    Also prove who they were offending
    The police have other issues more important in Byron to look at before they pick on innocent naturists

  11. What a waste of Public resources! The problem lies with the enforcement not with what was actually occurring.
    Thank you for letting us all know, Brunswick is my regular Beach, I regularly sun bake topless, away from people and this morning went into the water naked at 6.30am, well away from any other people. What is this country coming to? Who was offended by these ladies?

  12. Ring the the police about something serious and they are always too busy to attend yet they find the time and resources to drive a 4wd down a lonely stretch of beach to harass someone for having nude swim

  13. This country will end up with a ‘Trump’ society if is continues on this ridiculous conservative curve. Sydney had about six officially legal nude beaches in the late 1970’s, and today none, Many people were born nude and still wanted to practice it in comfort, including a huge number of well known intelectuals, but the church ‘wowser squad’ with Fred Nile’s chior leaned on our polititans. France has complete seaside villages.

    This ‘rule by minority’ is like Australia’s binge drinking. In France, civilised drinking with food is available everywhere, but here the cafes and small restaurants cannot afford the high license fees, a system that is maintained between political parties and the pub/club industry to channel our society away from a more civilised naturally gentle way of living. Its time we designed our society towards natural healthy ways of choice instead of fear dictating an inappropriately restricted life.

  14. Take it to court definitely….there’s too much ch fear in our society already and most magistrates are fair people. Treat them with respect and you should have a good outcome.

  15. Don’t take this lying down!
    Please fight this…in my opinion we should “rally the troops”…. crazy wrong… I’m offended by the policemens actions!
    Go catch some perverts at the “nude” beach and just maybe people would feel safe there …

  16. A they were breaking the law. People tend to think it’s O.K. as long as you don’t get caught. That goes for everything, e.g., cash instead of GST, road rules, D.V., drugs etc.

  17. They were breaking the law. People seem to think it’s OK as long as you don’t get caught. That goes for everything, e.g., cash instead of GST, road rules, drink driving, drugs, D.V. , etc.

  18. If this is true they should fight it . . nude sunbathing is not considered offensive conduct. In NSW the law is:

    A person shall not, in or within view from a public place or a school, wilfully and obscenely expose his or her person. Maximum penalty: 10 penalty units or imprisonment for six months. (which would be $1100 max)

    A nude sunbathing female is not considered to be “willfully or obscenely exposed” and this has been proved in NSW Courts before. The standard practice for Police following complaint from a “reasonable person” . . . and Police are not considered this so their opinion is irrelevant . . . is to ask the person to dress and escort them from the beach not issue a penalty notice.

    I think I might call bullshit on this one.

  19. The human body is disgusting and offensive. Thank heavens that the police intervened before something really terrible happened. God bless them. Naked people should be locked up and the key thrown away as far as I’m concerned. I’m terribly shocked by the thought of anyone naked be it at the beach or anywhere else. The police should be given extra resources to fight this kind of behaviour. I think that there should be 24/7 four wheel drive patrols along all of our beaches looking out for this sort of thing – or surveillance cameras every 50 metres just to check. And floodlights and drones, obviously. Thank you Byron police for making this a priority as opposed to domestic violence, murder, robbery and other clearly less important things…

  20. What a shame!!! I really feel offended by this police behavior. That’s not what we pay them for !!!
    Having sun bath or swim naked in the area far away after the dogs area, it’s something that I do all the times. In Brunswick or South Golden Beach! We do not let this to happens. If you find a way to fight this I will be by your side!

  21. Offence is taken where none is given.Many of us are deeply offended by our government’s contra indicated solutions to perceived problems. Think drug wars….think Adani.I hope the offenders (victims) haven’t paid the fines yet.There are many of us with “skin in the game” (pun intended), who may share it outside the court.

  22. You should fight it in court, chances are you’ll win because the officers in question will probably be too busy hanging around the beach or hiding behind a tree with a drug unit to attend the court date! Just another tax

  23. As I understand it, police are required to respond to complaints – so if the horse riding company is complaining about nudity – and can’t deal with Live and Let Live – particularly on the end of the beach where not many folks are hanging out – Then by that logic, shouldn’t they be required to do poop and scoop after their horses? Perhaps some are offended by their horse shit.

  24. My wife and I have been sunbathing starkers in Brunswick and Byron for over 40yrs, our children still go there when they come home and even take thier children as well. Back in the 80’s and 90’s coppers patrolled the beaches for drunken larakins and never bothered us sun faring folk. Yes we had the odd perverts and such, but we knew how to deal with them. Our local Bobby’s even stopped for a chat here and there. Not many were offended by nudity and those that were had miles of other beach to enjoy. Nudity has been a part of Byron culture since before it was even fashionable. When did we start becoming a nation of prudes who seem to be offended by everything. I’m more offended these days by horses shitting on the only 800 metre stretch of beach left to us in Tyagarah (and I still haven’t seen anyone pick it up either). Anyway, two people in an isolated part of the beach get fined $500 each for enjoying nature in the buff, far from other beach goers. Yet, the dozens of scantily clad men and women on public clothed beaches, in full view of youngsters and easily offended parents seem to be immune to the eyes of the conservative and morally judgemental public. I just don’t get it. We are not a perfect society by any means, but taking away people’s liberties because a minority is embarrassed…. Come on Australia. I could go on but I’ll leave this right here.


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