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Byron Shire
May 22, 2024

Young family terrorised on 7 Mile Beach

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A witness said this car fishtailed up the beach and looked like it would roll before one of the occupants thrust their finger out the window at a woman and her baby. Photo supplied.

Eve Jeffery

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.’

A witness said that when he spoke to the drivers, all but one said they were driving their parents’ car. Photo supplied.

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.’

The witness said cars drove at speed between beach walkers at 7 Mile Beach. Photo supplied.

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.


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12 COMMENTS

  1. Ground control to Major Tom… time to do what you are paid to do
    & that includes all members of Council. Get the P platers off & out
    of the area before they kill someone.

  2. I can’t understand how no further action will be taken by anyone. Reckless behaviour on our beaches IS reckless behaviour on our beaches. No matter how sorry people may be initially, it’s only going to invite more reckless, mindless behaviour and yes, someone will get hurt. It’s an accident waiting to happen and a risk assessment must be conducted by council. You’ve already had complaints. You know how it all works.

  3. 4 wheel drive vehicle nearly hit my dog 1st day on that beach. Cars dogs children all on the same beach. Utter madness.

  4. You should not have obscured the number plates in your photographs. These guys need to be exposed and punished. Ideally no cars should be allowed onour beaches. Fishermen? Let them park off-beach and walk.

  5. I totally agree that four wheel drives need to be banned from the beach and give whoever has a legitimate reason to patrol the beach a key to a locked gate. I walk on 7 mile beach 2-3 times a week and it a rare day that there aren’t 4 wheel drives competing with walkers and dogs for the space near the water’s edge.
    Beach compaction as a result of cars passing along the beach dramatically reduces the numbers of crustaceans and worms in the sand. Yet another important ecosystem unnecessarily depleted.
    Two weeks ago saw the deep wheel tracks of a 4 wheel drive which had run up and down the sand dunes right against the vegetation zone. Yet another vacuous thrill. Lets just keep cars on the road.

  6. Yes ban the vehicles from the beach. Why you need to even allow vehicles on the beach is a mystery. Beach patrols, etc, yes but private cars, trucks. We have enough roads on the planet. Environment is what makes people come to the area. So why vehicles on the beach squashing the small creatures that have their homes in the sand. Environment, environment, environment!!!!!!

  7. Council – catering for all users doesn’t mean allowing some users to go around seriously endangering lives. WE don’t allow that on roads or in other public spaces – why so that on a public beach.
    And yes – the long bow about responsibilty for deaths, when the warning has been given, would indeed be drawn in a court of law.

  8. This is totally crazy and irresponsible if no actions is taken. There needs to be an immediate ban on all vehicles on the beach except for Police or emergency services. Totally nuts. Please publish the photo somewhere even if on Facebook and lets get a petition going. Of course young people are going to go do crazy things if they can get away with it. They’ve probably posted their video of the whole thing on you tube and insta by now!! Wake up Council and Police before someone is killed!

  9. It is a matter for police not council. If the police are neglecting their duty to police the area then the blame should be laid squarely at their feet. I suspect the police are too lazy to deflate the police vehicles tires to go on the beach and are reluctant to engage in the tedium of re inflation to return to the pathed roadway. The police no doubt have an unwritten policy of ignoring vehicle offences on beaches in the hope that public pressure will force council to close public vehicle access thereby reliving them of a part of their duties that they do not enjoy.

  10. Totally disgraceful by the Council and police.
    Yesterday I was sitting on 7 mile beach and a 4wd came flying down along the sand at 80km per hour at least. I was shocked and thought what would have happened if there was a person or dog walking there.
    Eventually this 4wd turned back around and parked near by and fisherman got out with their kids.
    A total disrespect for the environment and safety of people and providing a poor example of behaviour for their kids.
    That’s where it all starts.

  11. Totally disgraceful by the Council and police.
    Yesterday I was sitting on 7 mile beach and a 4wd came flying down along the sand at 80km per hour at least. I was shocked and thought what would have happened if there was a person or dog walking there.
    Eventually this 4wd turned back around and parked near by and fisherman got out with their kids.
    A total disrespect for the environment and safety of people and providing a poor example of behaviour for their kids.
    That’s where it all starts.

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Cartoon of the week – 22 May, 2024

The letters deadline for The Echo is noon Friday. Letters longer than 200 words may be cut. The publication of letters is at the discretion of the letters editor.