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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Council staff call for Tyagarah Beach nude bathing to be banned

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Enjoying a bit of fun in the sun are some naturists relaxing at the clothes-optional beach, Tyagarah. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Paul Bibby & staff reporters

Nude bathing at Tyagarah Beach could be banned within weeks if councillors support Byron Council staff’s recommendation at today’s meeting to revoke the beach’s clothes-optional declaration.

But Council may look to replace Tyagarah with a different, less-remote nudist beach in the Shire, with Belongil Beach emerging as an early favourite.

Councillor Michael Lyon (Greens) told The Echo that he was ‘leaning’ toward voting in favour of the staff recommendation.

‘The idea that children can’t walk from Tyagarah to Main Beach and feel safe is obviously pretty concerning,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘The isolation of Tyagarah is a contributor to that.’

He and the other Greens councillors were considering making one of the Shire’s ‘more prominent’ beaches clothing optional because having more people around would discourage lewd and criminal behaviour, Cr Lyon said.

‘Belongil Beach is being put forward as a possible option.

Passive surveillance

‘I think that would potentially work well because there’s more passive surveillance.’

Given that Byron’s Greens councillors are in the majority there is a strong possibility that the staff recommendation will be passed.

In recommending that Tyagarah lose its clothes-optional status, staff repeatedly referred to discussions within, and submissions to, the Safe Beaches Stakeholder Group.

During its two years of operation, the stakeholder group has repeatedly heard that the problem of lewd and criminal behaviour in and around the clothes-optional area at Tyagarah was likely to be far worse that the police statistics suggested, owing to underreporting.

Among the main factors contributing to the behaviour was the ‘vast presence of inappropriate lewd social media sites promoting lewd sexual behaviour in the area’, and the ‘remoteness and public nature of the area’ which lent itself to poor ‘passive surveillance’ and slow police responses to incidents.

The report noted the significant difference in beach visitation between remote and non-remote beaches.

This difference underscored the far higher crime rates at Tyagarah compared with township beaches.

The site was also deemed attractive to individuals predisposed to offending because it was the only lawful clothes-optional beach within the region and within 200km of a capital city.

Council staff noted that submissions to the safe beaches stakeholder group were predominantly in favour of closure, with 74 per cent seeking this option.

One strongly worded submission stated that it was ‘only a matter of time before a father/husband/son/daughter looks to the creators of the clothing-optional beach [Council] to be accountable for the rape/attack of their loved one’.

The beach safety stakeholder group has previously debated consideration of alternative locations for a nudist beach within the Shire, but members rejected all alternative locations on the basis that they either:

  • lacked the necessary supporting infrastructure needed for safe use or
  • conflicted with the existing use of the beach.

‘Successes ignored’

But the staff report has been criticised by the Byron Naturist group, which said the push for closure came despite staff admitting that ‘enhanced stakeholder safety initiatives implemented to date have reduced the frequency of lewd sexual behaviour and criminal offences’.

Byron Naturists representative Debra Conomy said in a media release that the group’s experiences at Tyagarah were ‘overwhelmingly positive and we are not witnessing the sensational sexual acts described by opponents’.

Ms Conomy added, ‘We made a comprehensive submission to Council staff but our evidence was ignored in their report. For example, a bizarre graph about cars with Queensland rego plates parked at a public beach was included, while our empirical data showing beach users were mainly responsible couples – not deviants – was omitted’.

‘The Council decision depended almost exclusively on input from the Safe Beaches Committee but this group was hijacked by an abolitionist faction in early 2018,’ she said.

Council will debate the issue on Thursday October 18. The meeting starts at 9am.


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  1. The statement that children could not walk from Tyagarah to main beach safly and it was only a matter of time before a family member is raped is a ludicrous claim.A good parent would not let their child walk alone in that area ” what happen to swim between the flag message?No rape has ever happen in all the many years the C/O beach has been legal and even before that.

  2. Despite all the efforts of Byron Naturists group there seems to be a subversive undercurrent with their own hidden agenda. The Safe Beaches Committee has been infiltrated with those with commercial interests from Elements Resort which invalidates the true worth of their submissions. A few local residents, who believe anywhere from the highway to the beach belongs to them, have vastly exaggerated issues in order to invalidate the successful efforts of Byron Naturists to self police potential illegal activities on the beach. Those with loud voices don’t represent the majority (democratic process).

    As far as the ridiculous comment by CR Michal Lyon goes, I’ve been to many naturist beaches and resorts in more progressive countries. These are primarily frequented by families. Children at these places have been no less safe than at any other beach. The most danger they are in is from water/drowning. Parents will always put the safety of their children first in any location.

    Safety at any nudist beach is the same as any other beach. It is bizarre to believe that a micro-thin tiny piece of spandex swimsuit material will somehow make you safe. Naturists aren’t sex mad perverts once they see flesh. This is outdated and not supported by facts. The overwhelming majority of naturists are kind, welcoming, peaceful and free-spirited people who simply want to be able to have a space to be free of the shackles of modern society. To enjoy life as nature intended. It’s an ideal that most certainly makes for a better world.

  3. Children should be allowed to walk alone along any beach as long as the child has an adequate understanding of safety. That is part of growing up. Parents cannot be categorised as good/bad based on whether they let their children walk along the beaches or not. Keeping to the point of Tyagarah beach situation, I have had enough first-hand experiences of being approached by some strange man or sometimes couples. Also, witnessing other unacceptable public sexual behaviours and having called the police in the past. Therefore, I highly recommend moving the nudist beach to Belongil. If one wants to be naked it does not matter which beach it is. The nudists who are looking for admirers, well… at least you are guaranteed to have lots more admirers on Belongil beach than the isolated Tyagarah Beach.

  4. There shouldn’t be any nude bathing in public anywhere..it’s infantile grow up..by all means do it in the privacy of your own or friends home but not there..

  5. Unfortunately it’s now a perceived risk for children to walk suburban streets or go to playgrounds alone, so walking alone on a beach probably carries the same (or lesser) risk compared to a suburban street.
    I agree that moving the clothing optional area closer to a town beaches would provide a safer environment for all, than Tyagarah. And thereby free-up Tyagarah Beach for the local residents to use without fear of viewing naked bodies.

  6. Really Sharmila,
    you truly believe Naturists/Nudists want to be looked upon.
    You are truly wrong.
    The difference between Exhibitionists and Naturists.
    Hence why we were so against being displaced, to closer to Byron CBD.
    Debra Conomy
    Byron Naturist Group

    • To M/s Conomy,

      Why is it that people who want to show the world the full extent of their bodily parts hold sway when the absolute vast majority of Australians maintain a policy of respectable and non-offensive attire and have no desire to see ‘all of you’. It is the height of arrogance and selfish disregard of the rest of us that you people should carry on as you do. To you and the Pot Hole Council of the world who make these utterly stupid and self serving decisions. You should be ashamed of your behaviour. If you want to bare yourself to the world go and find a patch of jungle and cavort to your hearts content because we have had a gutful of your disrespect and childish behaviour.

  7. What a disappointing result.
    I still don’t feel safe or comfortable to go to Tyagarah beach because I don’t believe Byron Naturist group will always be there to monitor the inappropriate behaviour.
    Again our ‘soft” councillors have bowed to a few….

  8. Interesting comments – Bob and Chris.
    People not wearing any clothing ! And in public! Shock, Horror!.
    We are entering an era of overt puritanism. Our ‘holier than thou’ neighbours will find much satisfaction in the community of the future. Only to be surpassed by the joy of many clothing retailers as sales increase.

  9. We are so lucky to have such long stretches of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
    People have been swimming naked on these beach decades before those who complain took up residence here.
    Is it really too much to ask that people who wish to skinny dip are shown a little tolerance?

    Some people become violent when they consume alcohol. Do you choose to ban alcohol?

    People are frequently attached by dogs. Do you choose to ban dogs?

    People are often killed by speeding vehicles. Do you choose to ban vehicles?

    If you don’t want to see people naked on the beach then why not stick to the 99% of beaches where it is unlikely to happen and leave us to enjoy the 1% the way we would like?
    There is enough beach in this beautiful part of the world for everybody.

  10. The concept of formal adoption of small areas of less popular beaches for nude bathing has been legislated in many places of the world, including several beaches in New South Wales. This means 99.99% of NSW beach area is not available for nude bathing, but is available for those good folk who do not wish to view or participate in the activity.
    This appears to be more than fair to the broader beach going community.
    Consequently, it seems selfish that those who don’t wish to be on a nude bathing beach, should not only enjoy the 99.9% of non-nudist beaches in NSW but also want to convert the remaining 0.1% of the state’s beach area to their already-generous allowance on non- clothing optional area.


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