Raphael Lee Cass, Byron Bay
Some of the reasons I moved to Byron Bay was its Writers Festival, the nature, the tolerant culture and the beaches. I particularly liked being able to walk away from the public access path from Bayshore Drive at Sunrise Beach, well away from a resort’s guests, take my clothes off, have a surf, and lie in the sun. Like the majority of people on the beach I would allow plenty of space between me and other beach users. That was before Council moved the clothing-optional area north.
I was dismayed on reading Echo letters from two Tyagarah residents; one purporting to represent ‘local residents’. Richard Burford maintains that harassing incidents ‘continue unabated from Tyagarah to Sunrise…’ I visit Sunrise often and have not seen any of his described incidents ever. However, I have seen men ‘hanging around’, and, after a brief conversation, told them to leave.
The common need that Richard and Gyan, all beachgoers including ‘naturists’, ‘skinny dippers’ and unclothed people using the beaches have is to feel safe. Having a clothing-optional beach in an isolated place makes no sense in terms of safety. Extending from Tyagarah to 300 metres north of the Sunrise access path would make the southern part close to a patrolled beach, a more populated beach, facilities, police, and the Byron local community.
I think that nobody wants bad behaviour – especially criminal behaviour – on the beaches. Richard’s complaint that the police and council don’t have the resources may be true, but what has changed is the local culture over the last year. Every single person has the resources to tell anyone who is annoying to leave, call for help, take a photo and call police. And this is happening now.
Richard’s and Gyan’s letters make their point about safety, but have many negative generalisations, incorrect claims and much old information.
Six people per week die on NSW roads. We don’t ban driving because of car accidents. Likewise, there is no need to close beaches to happy, beach-enjoying people because of a minority of people behaving badly.
Richard and Gyan, let’s stop the bad behaviour and enjoy tolerance, the strength of this community and our wonderful beaches.