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Byron Shire
September 27, 2023

‘Drunk and disorderly’ revellers in Byron Bay

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A man was assaulted in Apex Park in the early hours of Sunday morning (January 6) while another man was arrested for vandalising signs.

But the most pervasive problem facing Byron Bay police is the number of people ignoring the town’s alcohol-free zones.

At about 2am on Sunday, an 18-year-old UK tourist was seen by witnesses to ‘crash tackle street signs along Jonson Street,’ according to police.

He ran off when police attempted to speak to him but was located a short time later and arrested before being taken to Byron Bay Police station.

The man was issued a $500 criminal infringement notice for offensive behaviour.

Man punched

At about 3am the same day a 24-year-old Byron Bay man was drinking in Apex Park Byron Bay with a group of friends when he was assaulted by an unknown male.

The assault appears to have been unprovoked and the offender has only been described as a male with long brown hair, about 170 – 180 cm tall, medium build, with a plaster cast on one of his arms.

During the assault the victim’s phone was taken but it was later located and returned. The victim sustained a bleeding nose.

Tourists not observing alcohol free zones

Between 7.55pm and 8.55pm on Saturday (January 5) police conducted a high visibility foot patrol at Apex Park, Byron Bay, where approximately 300 people had gathered, including kids playing at the playground and a number of buskers performing.

Despite some Council signs Alcohol Free Zone signage at the park, police say they had to speak to 70 people in relation to consuming and possessing alcohol in the area.

All were interstate or international visitors.

They were directed to dispose of open alcohol and take closed bottles and eskies from the park. Police say all complied with police direction without any issues and informal warnings were given.

Police are reminding locals and visitors to the Byron Bay area that alcohol is prohibited in parks and beach front locations.

Alcohol-free zones apply to streets, footpaths and public roads, while alcohol prohibited areas apply to parks and open spaces. In both alcohol-free zones and alcohol prohibited areas, alcohol consumption is prohibited 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Police have the power to confiscate alcohol in these areas.

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  1. The reality is that police only have certain powers with regard to alcohol in the parks and beaches, which primarily means that they can only pour or confiscate alcohol, they cannot issue fines over it. It is up to council to fine for people having glass bottles in the park, but of course their workers do not work during the hours where drinking in the parks is prevalent, being in the evenings, from just before sunset onwards. And as for signage, there is no real signage in our parks, and certainly not at main beach, where the old ‘alcohol & glass-free area’ signs, used to be located on the old bins. When the new bins were installed, the old signs went to the dump, with the old bins and were never rescued by council. They put some tri-fold corflute signs around town over summer, wrapped around poles in town, but they just say ‘alcohol-free area’ no mention about glass and they weren’t specific for the parks and beaches, but more so for around the streets in the town centre. What is sorely needed is genuine signage at the entries to the park, that people can actually read, not tiny cluttered signs with a hundred different messages on them. Just clear and precise information stating that the “Parks and Beaches of Byron are GLASS & ALCOHOL-FREE”. During schoolies, we always have a field-day trying to get this message to these young visitors, but I have found the best way to get the message across to them is to remind them that it is a childrens playground and that little feet walk our parks and beaches and that glass in the park ends up smashed and in kids feet. At least the schoolies are compliant when told this and asked to bin their bottles, they pretty much always immediately say they understand and bin what they have, or take it elsewhere. I had a few signs given to be by council to use during schoolies, that they had printed for NYE, but the only place I could find to attach them to, were the temporary anti-vehicle barriers that were placed on the main entry corner of the park, opposite the Beach Hotel, and hardly anyone actually noticed them. The real issue here is with locals, backpackers and adult tourists, who just thumb their noses at any kind of authority telling them they can’t have alcohol and bottles in the park. Time for council to really deal with the lack of genuine signage to tell anyone this too, and to maybe actually employ their workers who have the authority to fine, at the times when the highest need exists. I don’t recall ever seeing that anyone has ever been fined for having glass in the park.


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