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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Zero tolerance

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D James, Myocum

This afternoon I met a lovely couple from New Zealand, probably in their late 50s, and a nice man from Queensland, maybe in his early 40s.

Normally, these people would pass me unnoticed as I walk along the legal ‘clothing optional’ beach at Tyagarah feasting on the visual and audible delights of the Pacific Ocean. But today was a different day…

As I walked along the beach in the middle of the designated clothing-optional area a four-wheel-drive police car pulled up next to me and stopped. Both of the two officers inside the vechicle stared at me. Feeling a little threatened, I decided to put on the friendly vibe.

‘Hi, how you going?’ I asked the officers.

‘Where have you come from?’ was the response.

Now I wasn’t sure what this exactly meant at first. Should I say England? But I’ve lived in Australia most of my life. Do I say Mullumbimby? Guessing he didn’t mean my origins, I responded, ‘Over there’ pointing at where I had just walked from.

‘No, where have you come from?’ he repeated, this time a little agitated.

‘I walked to the end of the clothing-optional sign and now I’m walking back towards the other clothing-optional sign.’ I replied.

I didn’t really want to get into a full conversation about my fitness routine – 800m of official clothing-optional beach times four laps equals 3.5km (if you add the walk to my parked car).

The officers continued staring. I started feeling slightly uneasy now – I was naked and they weren’t.

‘And where’s that?’ the officer sternly continued.

‘Over there?’ I replied, pointing towards the sign in the distance, in the same breath hoping my answer was the correct one.

‘Where?’ he asked again. He clearly hadn’t been watching where my index finger had been nervously pointing.

Feeling like the ‘conversation’ wasn’t going anywhere and that I still had a lap of my fitness program left, I wanted to let him know that I’m part of group of locals who are working hard to keep this beach clothing optional.

I’ve even told off a guy once who was masturbating on the edge of the dune. Mind you I couldn’t have told the officer the full story – as I walked closer to the ‘deviant’ and yelled, ‘Oi you, stop masturbating’, he calmly turned around and replied, ‘I’m only having a piss, mate’. ‘Oh sorry, sorry, mate’ I sheepishly replied to the now not so deviant stranger.

Returning back to the officer I added, ‘I’m one of the good guys’. I don’t even know what I meant by saying that, but I knew it couldn’t hurt!

The two officers slowly unlocked their stare and focused back towards the almost empty beach. The male officer mumbles, ‘all right’ before tearing off towards a few other naked people enjoying the late afternoon sun.

A few metres back into my walk the couple from New Zealand and the man from Queensland asked if everything was ‘okay’ and what did the ‘cops’ want? I simply replied, ‘Oh, they just wanted to know where I came from.’

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