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Byron Shire
April 13, 2021

South Ballina and Evans Head Beaches closed to 4WDs

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Family and 4WD on Patchs Beach – photo David Lowe

The closure of South Ballina Beach and Evans Head to 4WDs and other vehicles has been met with a mixed response.

The closure has been welcomed by Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) while local Ballina Shire Councillor, Keith Williams  has said the state government has failed its promise of consultation with the community.

Cr Keith Williams. Photo David Lowe.

Councillor Williams says he was shocked to hear of the closure of South Ballina Beach and feels he was lied to by State government staff that had promised consultation with the community prior to any decision.

‘This is a decision made by people that do not live here, who have made no effort to understand the impacts on the local community. It stinks,’ he said.

‘The people of South Ballina have been treated with contempt. How can you make a decision like this and not even talk to your neighbours? They will now bear the brunt of illegal tracks and damage to their property as the hoons continue to seek access to the beach.’

Member for Ballina Tamara Smith. Photo David Lowe.

However, according to MP Smith the beach closure to 4WDs has been an effective multi-agency decision.

‘I applaud the multi-agency decision to restrict vehicles on South Ballina Beach and thank all of the residents and community members that have worked with my office over the last six years to advocate for better public safety and protection of Aboriginal Heritage and endangered species severely impacted by ever increasing vehicle traffic.

Frame from video uploaded 2/2/20 showing people riding outside 4WD at Empire Vale.

‘Excessive numbers of 4WD vehicles on our beaches have posed a danger to the community and beachgoers. There has not been a week gone by in my office where I haven’t received a phone call, email or letter from a concerned constituent about; public safety on South Ballina beach, destruction to Aboriginal cultural sites, the endangered Pied  oystercatchers or the negative impact on the environment,’ said Ms Smith.

Local resident on South Ballina Beach – photo David Lowe

No understanding of impact

Issues around access for fisher people, disability access, the condition of the access road, and lack of input to the decision by South Ballina residents and landowners have been raised in the past and again by Cr Williams.

‘Telling local fishers they can walk to the beach takes no account of the fact that gutters, the bits you actually fish, move regularly and it ignores our older population that have trouble walking on soft sand,’ said Cr Williams.

‘To say “just walk” while the access to South Wall is closed some 2km from the beach, because they can’t get their act together to fix the road, is just disrespectful.

‘I don’t think they have any understanding of the impacts their decision will have on locals. People that have fished that beach their entire lives, that have chosen to buy their houses at South Ballina have had no say, no chance to input.

Pied oystercatcher and 4WD track on South Ballina Beach – supplied

Regulation

‘The Crown Lands department could have chosen to work with the community. There are a number of ways use of the beach could be regulated, a permit system operated by Council under licence or gate keys distributed through local fishing clubs.

‘If they had been willing to talk we could have crafted a solution that enabled a win-win outcome. Better environmental protection and a supportive community.

‘Instead they have chosen the one size fits all approach. Environmental protection but at the cost of an angry and resentful local community.’

Richmond Police speed test 4WDs on beaches south of Ballina this week. Supplied.

COVID reprieve

‘The enforcement operation by the Richmond Area Command through Operation Thor over the October 2021 long weekend last year was disturbingly insightful. The police were on patrol only a few hours at a time over 3 days yet 150 vehicles were stopped for random breath tests, which is an alarming statistic,’ said MP Smith.

‘Our beaches are for residents and visitors to enjoy walking and swimming, but driving up and down the beach and dune bashing is crazy.  We are not talking about local fisher men and women, I know many good-hearted recreational fishers will support the closure of South Ballina beach. Often they are the first responders when ocean and wildlife have been injured by 4WD destruction or dogs. Beach access will be provided for parking and walking onto the beach at the closure point.

Dead pied oystercatcher, South Ballina Beach. Photo Coastal Defenders Network.

‘During COVID-19 there was a reprieve for vulnerable species and their food sources, locals saw increases in the number of pied oystercatchers and mixed species flocks of birds. Most of these sightings disappeared once vehicles returned to the beach.

‘The local Aboriginal communities and their allies have been very concerned about the destruction of culturally significant sites along the foreshore of South Ballina Beach.

‘I would like to thank all the organisations, Individuals and agencies who have tirelessly worked on this issue and kept my office updated on the status of South Ballina Beach over the last six years.

‘This is a win for the whole community,’ Ms Smith said.


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20 COMMENTS

  1. Nice wpork Tamara Smith , not all of us in 4 WD disrespect rules , or the birds , I love the oyster catcher birds , this is just crap , keep the beaches open 4 4 WD , just monitor it more , an please tell me wat local indigenous mobs baked you??? I’ve asked many , an no one said they spoke to you or participated in this rubbish closing to people, it’s not ballina councils land

  2. Good to protect our beaches this way & to allow birdlife to inhabit areas they’ve used for ever – thanks for those who have the understanding to make this happen. Now let’s get vehicles off Seven Mile beach too (except for licensed fishing businesses). If we allow mechanical degradation & destruction of our beaches and local environments they’ll be gone and then where will all the beach loving Aussies go? Canberra?

    • That’s the way Barry, dis anyone who disagrees as hoons and morons.

      Amazing how their is no compromise or courtesy provided to alternative views nowadays.

      Your way or the highway hey Barry, what a sad snapshot of modern day life!

  3. That’s great about the beach closure to the 4wds .
    As a regular user at evans head , it was horrible on busy weekends, with the amount of traffic on beach , just getting out of hand !
    Well done council !

  4. Lets close the sporting parks too . we can improve the bird habitat by turning them over to the birds, Grow more trees there. Ban cars from the main street and we will encourage wildlife to occupy them. OH wait they already do every Friday Saturday night. Better close the pubs and restaurants to. Ban everything dumb bums. Keep going until nobody is happy. Certainly the tourist dollars won’ t be coming in from beach lovers or fishing tourism any more. Great work Mayor David the dummy and Tamara the twit. Certainly no help to Ballina’s business’es .

    • Too right pussy !
      Sporting parks are just training grounds for violent thugs and the voyeuristic mobs baying for blood in their tribal lust.
      The well documented brain damage acquired in contact ‘sports’ is a disgrace to the nation. Banning cars from cities has been fabulously beneficial in many ways and these days the only functioning environments, that haven’t been clear-felled for fun and profit, are the remnants of native forests and exotic plantings that have been tolerated to exist within the town limits. Though these areas are far from ideal, Bill I agree that wildlife should be preserved here at ALL costs and to hell with the tourists and the 4wd yobbos.
      I do have some reservation about closing the pubs and restaurants, although with Covid it probably is a good idea. Cheers, G”)

    • Where the he’ll do you expect fushers to drive to? Would you drive 2 hours away just to walk in the sand? Wake up moron

  5. Sorry to the older less fit and the disabled people that are inconvenienced by the closure of the beach to 4wds . Good opportunity for the rest of u to get more excercise . Theres just too many d!ç[email protected] in 4wds that do not have any concerns about keeping their vehicles off erodable sand dunes or for the wildlife that depends on the least human interference possible . They have spoiled it for everyone else I hope the authorities and the local communities make sure there is no continued illegal 4WD access to the beach .

  6. Who ever thought it was a good idea to turn beaches into roads? How crazy to have 4wd driving where people lare relaxing. I don’t want to be looking around to see if I am likely o be run over. Even better if it makes it harder to engage in blood sports like fishing.

  7. 30 km of beach where now only 1km will be used. Not once in 3 years has there been anyone patrolling the beach and issuing fines for misuse. There was more patrols when the beach was closed during COVID and then none again when it reopened. No consultation with the community on solutions such as blocking all access to the back of the dunes and regular police/ranger patrols. I have regularly picked up ute loads of rubbish washed up on the beach now I guess someone will be employed to do it.

  8. There are multiple solutions that stop the hooks whilst still allowing the elderly/disabled/young to access the beach. Unfortunately the only solution councils and government agencies were willing to consider was the lazy option. Unfortunately the only people this is going to stop is the elderly/disabled/young. The hooks didn’t care about the laws already in place so what makes you think they’re going to obey the new ones???

  9. What a load a absolute left wing agenda BS!

    Perhaps if law enforcement and rangers actually did their job and enforced the rules on the beach there wouldn’t be a problem with hoons and d**k heads that rewin it for the people that actually do the right thing… and for the people that want to swim and enjoy a beach without 4wds than go to another fu**ing beach that doesn’t have 4wd’s there’s hundreds to choose from!

    Now they have to go bulldozing a bunch of bush to make a carpark! Bloody hypocritical if you ask me!

  10. Just one more recreationally activity taken away from adventurous people ! Cant climb Ayres rock . Cant climb Mnt Warning . Cant go to the tip of Australia . Cant even
    fish from my favorite place along Angles beach drive ! The list go on and on . Soon there will be nothing at all to do . There should be a balance . We all know it was all the QLD ders with P plates that abused the beach , so why not have a local permit system in place ?

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