Police say they were called to Seven Mile Beach at about 6.30pm last Friday following reports of dangerous driving behaviour on the beach. A Ballina man said he witnessed the incident, which looked like a scene from an action movie.
‘There were four cars facing north like a drag race – there were maybe five or six people in them. They all lined up and charged – it was like a death squad. I said to my wife, “this can’t possibly be happening”, then they all took off at high speed. They started fishtailing and one car looked like it was going to roll.’
The man said that wasn’t the scary part, it was what happened next.
‘There was a man walking and woman was near the water holding a baby. The cars went in between them and either side of the man. One person stuck their finger out at the woman as they went past.’
The witness approached the man, who was in shock. ‘He asked us to call the police. I told him I’d do more than call the police.’
The witness said he approached the boys who had come to a stop inside the national park.
‘They were kids all on P plates and they were in their parents’ cars.’
The witness took a photo and one of the boys approached him. ‘I told him he was in big trouble and I explained how dangerous their behaviour was. The boys said they were very sorry. These were children, they were 17 or so, but they were children.
‘When I spoke to them they seemed like nice boys but on the beach they drove like idiots. I can’t begin to go on about how many P platers have died. I told them that if you were my children I would flog them because I love them. I told them the police were coming and they shit themselves, but then they had a bit of a laugh about it. They can’t relate to it.’
Police: no further action will be taken
The witness said that on the way back down the beach the police passed them. A police spokesperson said police spoke with four drivers at the scene. No further police action will be taken.
The Ballina witness said his biggest concern is that council allowed the vehicles on the beach in the first place. ‘My concern also is that the children aren’t being disciplined and losing their licence. These are local kids not schoolies!
‘There are horses and dogs, children and families here. This is a built-up area. We walk on the beach twice a week and there is not a day that we walk that we don’t see yahooing. It is no place for four wheel drives.’
The witness said he has taken the issues to council and been told that they have to cater to everyone.
‘I told a councillor that they would be responsible if there was a death. He emailed me back and said “… it’s a long bow to hold all councillors responsible for the irresponsible behaviour of someone else’s teenage children. We do what we can to accommodate all user groups and, as with many issues, the actions of a few contaminate the good intent of the majority”.
‘It’s mind boggling that they don’t take 4x4s off the beach. There is an attitude on the beach – it’s not policed – they all behave themselves on the road but it’s a different thing on the beach, they hoon around and every time they go all the way into the National Park.’
Council argues that fisherman want to use the beach
‘You don’t have to be an environmentalist to know that four wheel drives on the beach is not environmentally sound,’ said the Ballina witness.
‘Council’s argument is that fisherman want to use the beach. Lock a gate and give fisherman a key.
‘Councillors need to stop being all things to all people. They can’t cry ignorance.
‘People go to that beach to hoon and to be honest with you it was really scary. We thought we were in the middle of a movie scene – there is actually a scene like that in Mad Max, it looked like a re-enactment of a scene from that movie.’
The witness said he feels it is an accident waiting to happen. ‘When it happens they (Council) will be held responsible because they have had fair warning. They don’t walk on the beach. If they did, if they witnessed what we witness every week, they would change their tune. There is just no law there. They are going into the National Park and you can see fishtails and donuts.’
The witness said he and his wife have been in the area for over 30 years. ‘My wife isn’t too keen on going back there – we’ve had cars drive close enough to be disrespectful but nothing like this. This was terrible. It was so close. If they behaved this way on a public road they would have been booked, why aren’t the rules the same on the beach?’
The witness said the beach might be for all people, but he won’t be going back. ‘I have seen enough to remove myself from the beach,’ he said.