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Naturist women say Tyagarah beach improving

Sunrise skinny-dipper Maxine says she misses no longer being able to swim naked at her local beach. Photo Chris Dobney

A group of naturist women and skinny dippers from Byron Shire say they do not feel intimidated visiting Tyagarah’s clothing optional beach, despite claims from some locals that it remains a haunt for sexual predators and exhibitionists.

Maxine Hawker said her visit to the beach a week ago was a positive experience.

‘I live at Sunrise and I walked up the beach,’ she said.

‘I saw an older couple, a single guy on his own collecting shells, certainly not threatening or lewd behaviour.

‘I think that the Sunrise end (which is where I swim naked) has been cleaned up because of the police presence.

Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe of Byron Bay police told Echonetdaily that in the last month two incidents were recorded of people found to be naked outside the designated area, while a further two were given ‘move on’ directions.

This, he said, ‘could be anything from being drunk and disorderly to making others concerned or fearful’.

He added that there may have been other incidents that went unrecorded as no one was spoken to.

Police continue to patrol the area daily.

Sunrise locals disadvantaged

Sunrise local, Annie, told Echonetdaily ‘I don’t really want to have to drive to go for a swim.

‘I just want to have a quick skinny dip when I’m walking up the beach from Sunrise, so I do think there would be a lot of benefit in making the southern boundary a lot closer to town’ she said.

Annie said she would like the clothing optional area to start ‘a couple of hundred metres’ north of the entrance.

Maxine said when she used to skinny dip at Sunrise, ‘we would always walk at least 200 metres up from (Elements) resort.

‘I never had any complaints, never had anything threatening or creepy.’

Confronting creeps

Debra Lee Conomy, a member of Byron Naturists, said she’d had an experience with lewd behaviour at the beach about nine months ago but she called the man’s bluff.

‘I was sitting just outside the clothing optional beach– and I actually had a bikini on!

‘This guy walking along the water’s edge saw me sitting up there – and he purposely walked up, eyeballed me and [started masturbating].

‘I told him if he didn’t get lost I’d take his photo and report him to police.’

‘He took off,’ she said.

Isolation factor

Deb said she believed that the presence of naturists at the beach was an important factor in keeping the creeps at bay.

‘If you take away the naturists, you’re going to have all the lewd behavior return in droves. Because it’s going to be isolated. That’s what people don’t realise.

‘At the moment, you’ve got the naturists down there – they’re looking out for everyone and reporting any incidents. So you take them away, who’s there then?’ Deb queried.

Maxine said she believed the reduction in the length of the beach had, ironically, contributed to the sense of isolation.

‘In the research I’ve looked at, the problems at clothing optional beaches tend to occur in areas that are isolated.

‘When there’s close access to car parks and other [clad] beaches, there aren’t incidences of lewd behavior.’

Annie said she thought closing down clothing optional beaches in Byron went against the culture of the area.

‘It’s a bit like asking Nimbin to stop having their MardiGrass.

In Byron Bay, where we’ve all come to live because of its non mainstream lifestyle, we now have a council that wants to close down the beaches. How ridiculous is that?

Committee not representative

Maxine said she felt the Safe Beaches committee was ‘not representative of the community’.

‘I don’t see a community voice being heard. I just see this voice being strongly driven by business and that is not the history and the culture of our area. Business and development hasn’t driven who we are, in fact it’s been in at times quite the opposite: that we’ve maintained our culture despite big business trying to change us.

‘We’ve been swimming naked here for 50 years – this is a long-term history for our area.

‘My beach is now no longer clothing optional and I’ve been swimming there for 25 years – how did that happen?’

*Name changed by request

Byron Shire Council is set to make a final decision on the future of the beach at its October meeting.

Byron Naturists are organising a beach day on Sunday September 16 from 10am and are encouraging those who want to keep it clothing optional to attend.


20 responses to “Naturist women say Tyagarah beach improving”

  1. Michael Burton says:

    I am so disapointed in what has happened to the Tyagarah Beach & Tea Tree Lake of late… I am a 59 year old Naturist who has been practising Nudism since I was a Child… I use to love going to the Lake & Beach and having a terrific day in the sun enjoying the nude freedom with out a care in the world along with our Nudist which included Couples, Families & other single people (male & female)… everyone kept to themselves but were friendly to say hello and watched out for one another & could tell if the other wanted to be alone or not…. But now I don’t enjoy going there as much,, the couples & family numbers have droped greatly… the single women numbers have also taken a plunge because no one any longer feel safe on what should be a friendly free area to enjoy the Nudist way of life… all because of some perverted Male singles who have no other reason to be there than to play with themselves and having sex in front of everyone… Yes I go to the Beach alone at times but I am not there for their pleasure… I am simply their to enjoy myself in the sun in the Nude because I enjoy being nude…if I wanted to watch some guy wank himself if front of me I would stay home & do it to myself in front of a mirror… why oh why do these idiots take delight in parading up & down the beach doing these lewd acts in front of everyone… Just because I some other guys are there alone does not mean we are like you and want to join in…
    I think it time that all us geniune Nudist start fighting for our Beach & Lake back and for these Perverts off our beaches.. Before our Paradise is lost for ever!

  2. Tim says:

    Paradise was lost when the motorway went in Michael. Sad but true. The culture of Byron was appropriated and then changed by big money. It’s no longer the place it was.

  3. Jennifer Innes says:

    Totally agree Michael Burton.

    Furthermore do the two naturists quoted below expect women to avert their eyes and/or take photos of men masturbating. That pretty much describes the experience of women on the Beach between Elements and Tyagarah car park and explains why most Byron women and families won’t attend that stretch of beach.

    Debra Lee Conomy
    ‘I was sitting just outside the clothing optional beach– and I actually had a bikini on!

    ‘This guy walking along the water’s edge saw me sitting up there – and he purposely walked up, eyeballed me and [started masturbating].

    ‘I told him if he didn’t get lost I’d take his photo and report him to police.’

    Renee*,

    ‘When I’m walking along the beach – if I come across a man walking the other way, I simply do not make eye contact.

  4. Richard Burford says:

    Why hasn’t Chris Dobney declared that he is part owner of gay nudist resort Revelwood Rainforest Retreat currently closed because ‘Revelwood Rainforest Retreat for men is ready for a refresh – and a change.’ This is a massive undeclared conflict of interest, an advertorial in fact.
    At the last two Safe Beaches Meetings, Maxine Hawker made it clear, first to Mayor Richardson, then to me that no way as a woman would she go to Tyagarah Beach because of the pervert problem. Plenty of witnesses in those meetings.
    A big issue is the unreporting of incidents. Something Police, residents, Councillors and other stakeholders all agree on.
    Statements by Shire residents show they are still being stalked, harassed, and subjected to vile sexual acts, by perpetrators drawn to the nudist beach.
    Naturists themselves know this is an endemic problem .Get Naked Australia has 220,000 subscribers. Its recent article Cleaning Up Australian Naturism makes it clear why some are uncomfortable and unsafe. Its because naturism is “Hijacked by the perverts, the sexually entitled, the swingers”
    Which is what Michael Burton is saying in his letter. And what Maxine knows full well, and why she won’t go to Tyagarah Beach.

    • Chris Dobney says:

      RIchard, as I said to you personally on Friday, the B&B business is closed. Choosing to raise this question again publicly here, when you already know the answer, does not do the remainder of your argument any credit.

      • Richard Burford says:

        Chris, your business website claims you are closing for renovations, opening later. It is not closed down as you infer. I also find it misleading that you fail to disclose Debra Conomy’s commercial interest in naturist accommodation.

        • Chris Dobney says:

          I assure you our business is closed. That our website has yet to reflect this is unfortunate but hardly a hanging offence.
          Deb’s business, which welcomes around 6 guests at its height, is also currently closed.
          As your argument appears to be about undisclosed conflict of interest, neither Deb nor I have made a secret of the fact we ran places where a small number people could feel comfortable being socially naked without opprobrium.
          Thanks for the PR, although in my case rather too late.
          I consider this matter has now been fully ventilated.

  5. Jack says:

    Richard, I thought I read that Maxime DID swim at this beach.
    Quote” Maxine Hawker said her visit to the beach a week ago was a positive experience.”
    I think we all have a right to express opinions; even the part owners of gay retreats.
    I began visiting Byron Bay (from Lismore) in 1967 (yes, I am old) but I realize that the world doesn’t stay the same and the freedoms that locals relished for many decades will no longer be enjoyed by current and future generations. Possibly (as Tim says), part of the blame for change can be attributed to the M1 making is easier for increased visits to our nudist beach by many from the north.

  6. Debra Conomy (Byron Naturist) says:

    Richard Burford.
    Get Naked Australia yes has a forum as you’d Grays Lane Residents pointed out and honestly the forum now contains comments from Naturists totally in out rage at misappropriate behaviour.
    I’d suggest you go back and read now all comments made. It might open your eyes at how outraged we are that a minority believe nudism/naturism is any way sexual.
    A handful of Grays Lanes blatant attack on us, clearly shows there is an agenda here.
    This is not about the Tyagarah Clothing Optional Beach, if it was you’d be helping us to eradicate any inappropriate behaviour.
    Your attack on Naturists is deplorable considering.
    I’m a woman who can stand up to unwanted advances, that is my right to be respected and I do resent the fact you would expect women as 2nd rate to men.
    We are empowered as a society, women included to voice our opinion and finish what we started in eradicating any any inappropriate sexual behaviour on our beaches or else where.

  7. Maxine says:

    Dear Richard

    I am sorry for any misunderstanding – sometimes words taken out of context can seem contradictory. You do not need witnesses for what I said. I made the point at the last two Safe Beaches Committee meetings that I do not feel safe going to Tyagarah alone. As a female, I don’t like going alone to isolated beaches clothed or unclothed. I am certain I am not alone in my sentiments. Somehow my clothing optional beach, Sunrise, where I have swum naked for more than 25 years, now has a sign that says it is not clothing optional. If I want to skinny dip now, I have to either walk or drive to Tyagarah.
    Last Saturday I walked with a friend, to Tyagarah from Sunrise Beach and had a swim. I did not see any lewd or inappropriate behaviour. I think the perverts and the sex pests have received the loud message that there are regular police patrols as well as proactive residents reporting bad behaviour.

  8. John Lazarus says:

    The isolation, and low numbers of beach users, of the present clothes optional area is a major part of creating the problem. Personally I’d support all of the Shires beaches being declared clothes optional (it used to be common practice everywhere, and nobody complains about the annual women’s naked splash at Main Beach, or the annual naked bike ride), but certainly declaring from Main Beach to the north as clothes optional would allow access to a section of beach at the Wreck that is well populated which would deter inappropriate behavior (and quick access for the Police if needed). After meetings with the Tyagarah residents and the police in 2006 I canvassed Councillors for support for extending the area to the Main Beach car park, but got no majority support. As it is still an issue it would be worth having another go of getting the present Councillors to extend the area.

  9. Dave Fleming says:

    This is what can happen when naturists don’t pay attention to what others are doing on the beach. An official declaration of a ‘nude use’ beach, can then be backed up by use of the police when necessary. Don’t chase the guy away, walk away and call the police, then meet the police and point out the individual. Keep him in sight. Remember what he looks like and what clothes he is wearing since he is not nude. Go to the car park and record licenses and take his picture at his car but from a distance so he does not notice you. Do what ever it takes to have the guy removed from the beach permanently. Also, please don’t let council use the phrase “clothing optional” on beach signs since in our experience at Hanlan’s Point beach, that phrase only attracts clothed people who insist on their ‘right’ to wear clothes. CO phrase was invented by naturists and means “a place to be nude”, not a place to wear clothes.

  10. gwennee says:

    Deborah and Renee’s strategies of averting eyes and photographing men who are masturbating make it clear that the naturists do not have a coordinated approach to dealing with offensive and illegal behaviour at Tyagarah Beach. The naturist women do not represent local women. Most resident and local women when asked say that they will not go to to Tyagarah beach as they find the sexualised activity there very disturbing. Women who have attended the beach report ongoing incidents of creepy intimidating behaviour. I have recently tried to use the beach and have encountered naked men below the car park .I have been deliberately followed by a single man in a vehicle towards my home .The police and council do not have the capacity to monitor the beach on a daily basis. When a report is lodged with the police, if they do have a car available the perpetrator will have disappeared or moved on by the time the police arrive.

  11. Jack says:

    John Lazarus’ comments are very valid. Declaring all Shire beaches as areas where nude swimming is permitted would mean nudists do not need to visit the isolated Tyagarah section. Beaches frequented by large numbers of people (both dressed and undressed) will almost certainly deter visitation by the majority of the individuals who visit for ‘inappropriate behavior’. It might still continue at isolated beach area, however genuine nudists and clad bathers would have no need to go to such isolated beaches: if they have safe alternatives.
    Or, is the problem really more to do with a section of the community not wishing to see naked beachgoers at all, anywhere? Is the offensive behavior of the few being used as ‘evidence’ to further the argument against genuine nudists being allowed on beaches? As John says, nobody complains about other naked activities in Byron Shire, so if we are genuine that all we need is removal of those engaging in misappropriate behavior, the Council should have no problems permitting nude bathing at all our popular Shire beaches.

  12. Chris says:

    Reading the comments above I am left a little dismayed. Though the focus above seems to be on single women I would like to add that my wife and I have been frequenting the beach for many years (before the motorway as well!) and have never encountered or seen any actions which everyone seems to be referring to. We are not “nudists” but just a normal couple who simply like to swim and sunbake clothes free – as we have done in many overseas countries without issue. What is so wrong with this that a minority of people want to take this small freedom away from us?

    The decision to restrict the area for nude swimming was an outcome which, whilst probably not our preferred option, has seen a very positive change in terms of who visits the beach. Last summer in particular the number of couples attending the beach had noticeably increased despite it being quite crowded at times. This has actually been occurring for a number of years and well before the decision to restrict the area was made. The tea tree lake I do agree has been a little creepy in the past and strongly support the initiatives taken there as it is a totally different place now which is fantastic.

    I feel there is a large group of people (local and non local) out there who love Tyagarah but for privacy reasons they are the ones you rarely hear from. Its a vocal and I believe selfish minority who are trying to take away our choice to attend a small area of beach where you can swim and enjoy the freedom of being clothes free. If there are issues at times (and there is at all beaches) then lets keep pushing the grubs out through people power – that is the majority who attend the beach for the right reasons and want to keep doing so. I believe this has been working.

    Its funny how a small anti clothes optional faction make themselves heard with untruths a month or so out from a council meeting. In a world where fake news is rife and everyone is fighting for the freedom of choice in all aspects of life, I hope the noisy minority do not drown out the less vocal majority in this instance.

    • Chris – you ask what is so wrong? What is wrong is that there were more than 40 reports of sexual harrasment, and 2 rapes – one violent – made to the police last year, by people on the Tyagarah/Sunset beach. There were more than 20 made in Jan and Feb of this year.

      Couple this with the fact that most people know that in a case of “your word against mine” the case is liable to be thrown out of court, and thus a big waste of time and energy, along with being cross examined who is determined to prove that you really wanted to be raped anyway – this is why most offences are not reported.

      Who wants all that stress, shame and frustration for no return?

      I hope we can all agree that there are many more offenses made than the ones reported.

      It is also unfortunate that this is the nearest clothing optional beach to Queensland, and that clothing optional beaches are outlawed there, means Tyagarah is flooded with men willing to drive down from Brisbane and beyond to meet their needs on our beach.

      The question I ask myself is this: If I had a 14 year old daughter, would I be happy to see her go for a swim just down the road on our local Tyagarah beach? The answer right now is unequivocably “no”.

      I want it to be “Yes”. How about you?

      • Chris says:

        Dorset – the point i was making was that we have never seen any of this activity and I’m sure there are many others who attend the specified clothes optional area in the same boat. Are you against the rights of genuine people to swim clothes free and if not, why punish these people who are doing the right thing for the acts of a few? Surely continued actions to deter undesirables will in the longer run be effective.

        The offences you refer to – were these all in the designated clothes optional area of the beach or elsewhere? I guess some balance required here to ensure the naturist beach is not being tagged with acts that occur elsewhere?

        It also seems a bit off an over generalization to say the problem is coming from north of the border.

        Regarding sending my 14 year old daughter to a relatively isolated and unpatrolled beach, clothing optional or not, regrettably I am not sure I would answer in the affirmative. Of course I would like to answer yes, but my answer is more a sign of the times in general rather than the existence of a small clothes optional beach.

  13. Steve says:

    Congratulations to both local naturists and local police for making Tyagarah Beach a safer clothes optional beach. Genuine naturists are happy to see police on the beach and play our part in reporting illegal behaviour. This kind of ‘community policing’ is what law-abiding people do everywhere, every day. A nude beach is no different.

    My partner and I have been visiting Byron Bay since a so-called ‘police crackdown’ on nudists started at Alexandra Bay, Noosa a year or so ago. We love Byron and enjoy staying in your accommodation and eating at your restaurants. The most disturbing thing I read in the comments above is that Deb Conomy’s business might have closed. I hope this is not true.

    Please retain your clothes-optional beaches and laid back Byron vibe. Safe clothes-optional beaches are created when regular police patrols target people breaking the law. Both nudists and non-nudists alike want these people off our beaches and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  14. Realist says:

    Yeah, when I laid down on a beach towel and a guy stood next to me and starting wanking I knew it was time to leave.

  15. Shawn says:

    My fiancé and I have been visiting tyagarah clothing optional beach for a few years now- so much in fact that we’ve been purchasing yearly NSW National Parks pass to save on parking there, despite being from Qld! In fact we know of a lot of couples whom visit from interstate – we’re not all single men, and the vast majority of single men are not creeps!
    Which is the point I’d like to make- In all of our visits to the beach, we have never had a ‘creepy’ experience. Only great days playing beach volleyball, throwing a frisbee, swimming and relaxing. In fact all of our naturist, or ‘nudist’ outings- of which there have been many- have only been great experiences with great people.

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