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Byron Shire
January 31, 2023

4WDs multiplying on Seven Mile Beach?

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4WD tracks on Seven Mile Beach. Photo supplied.

Beach users in Lennox Head are reporting much higher numbers of 4WDs on Seven Mile Beach recently, along with an increase in hooning behaviour.

Since the closure of South Ballina Beach to most 4WD vehicles earlier this year, Seven Mile Beach (just south of Byron Shire, on the northern end of Ballina Shire Council’s area of responsibility) has now become a 4WD highway on sunny days, especially since the relaxation of COVID lockdowns.

The issue has been debated at Ballina Shire Council several times, with nothing substantial being done so far, and the majority of councillors choosing to delay action until the issue is considered as part of the forthcoming Coastal Reserve Plan of Management.

Other beach users left in the lurch

Regular beach visitor Judy Blood told The Echo 4WD numbers have exploded since the most recent lockdown ended.

Hoping to walk her dog as she had in the past, she said of that first post-lockdown weekend, ‘I expected there would be more than normal numbers of people on Lennox Head beach, but I thought that would suit my dog, who has been hungry for some company.

4WDs on Seven Mile Beach. Photo supplied.

‘When I arrived the beach was crowded with 4WDs as far as you could see. The tide was high so there was only a narrow strip for humans, dogs, horses… and hulking great vehicles ploughing up what little sand there was.

‘The tyre ruts were very deep at times and had to be stepped over with care. The amount of churning was extraordinary and it made me think of all the sub-terrestrial sand critters and micro critters that keep the sand alive and healthy.

‘Often tyres got caught up in the sand and there would be wheels spinning and sand flying. Often they drove far too fast for a beach littered with dogs and kids. There was always a vehicle arriving or leaving. There was a constant ebb and flow of vehicles.

‘Sometimes a whole stream would come through as if groups of families and friends were travelling in convoy,’ she said.

Safety issues

‘There was no sense of being free and relaxed on our beach walk,’ said Ms Blood. ‘You were always calculating where the dogs and the vehicles were to ensure their safety. Two horses came through. I was wondering how they were handling the terrain and the constant movement of cars.

4WD tracks on Seven mile Beach. Photo supplied.

‘I walked in the water because walking on the chewed-up sand was an onerous task with its peaks and troughs.’

While Ms Blood said there was generally a festive atmosphere, and people were happy to be out and about and soaking up the warmth and sea air, the increased level of 4WD-related damage was worrying, and clearly a result of the closure of beaches further south to 4WDs, in large part because of the associated environmental damage.

‘They are all coming to Lennox Head now, doing even more damage to that precious beach. Why are 4WDs on the beach? Why can’t they just park and walk like everyone else?’

Independent Ballina Councillor Jeff Johnson has been arguing for an overhaul of the existing permit system to limit 4WD numbers on the beach.

Judy Blood believes it’s time for a harder line on 4WDs in sensitive areas. ‘It’s time they were banned from all beaches around Australia. The only argument I could think for allowing one on a beach is for the disabled. And I imagine that loophole would be well scammed.

‘Time to bite the bullet,’ she said.

The following video shows 4WDs thronging the beach on the first day out of lockdown, leaving very little room for other beach users:

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  1. I drive a “dreaded” 4wd..but really..talk about this being a setup..
    The photo shows the following..
    1/.Vehicles on a beach at high tide..so where are they suppose to drive?..
    If need be..regulate no driving allowed on 7 mile beach at High Tide.. monitor it and issue fines..
    People get the message and think twice when they are hit in the “hip pocket”.
    2/. Straight after “lockdown”..everybody was about at that stage…
    Mimbies have stopped 4wding on Ballina South beach on the basis of some very suspect issues and not being satisfied , now they are after 7 Mile Beach and want it closed off.
    Soon they will be after the horses riders and dog walkers..
    Yes, there are idiots who flout the rules and disrespect country..so target them..which means monitoring and regulation.
    So when these idiots are caught…fine them heavily or if situation comes under the “Hoon Laws”..confiscate their vehicles and if need be “crush” them.

    • Nothing to do with “mimbies” (nimbies?), all about impacts, public safety and shared usage.
      There is plenty of research that demonstrates impacts on shorebirds, dune vegetation & invertebrate beach ecology – yes, there is life under the sand & it is impacted by vehicles. It seems to be a phenomenon peculiar to the north coast & Queensland where 4WDers attitude to nature is that it’s part of their ‘Rights” to drive great hulking 4wds wherever they want, purely because they own them. Are you aware of the south coast situation where vehicles are prohibited on beaches?

  2. It would have nothing to do with the border closure…..most northern NSW 4x4ers go to Qld as the locals winge too much if any 4×4 is on the beach

  3. This article is useless!
    Beaches need to be policed for “idiots”of every kind….1)The hooners( deliberate lawbreakers),
    2)Dog owners that don’t control their dogs, that cause chaos on the Beach.. by allowing them to jump up n down on unsuspecting beachgoers..especially those sitting minding their own business ..or allow them to run up to people’s fish n pull them out of buckets..or…allow them to run ALL OVER the sand in front of traffic..to slow down the progress of a 4wd vehicle as to have to virtually stop.
    There needs to be cooperation on both sides..not 1 sided( get everybody off the Beach but “me n my dog” syndrome.
    Some people are hyper about treading on an ant!!! I mean,really!

  4. Recently walked along 7 Mile Beach with friends for the first time in many many years :teeming with people and more of a 4wd parking lot meets a dog kennel. Both need their dedicated spaces but ewrgh…

  5. 4WD on beaches should be banned.
    The council and police are responsible for this.
    If something isn’t done soon, the public will make sure it is.
    A total disrespect for nature, people, the environment and public interest!!

  6. OMG this article reminded me of the 11 years of hell I had dating a guy from Ballina. His mother, and anyone else who has lived in Ballina and that region long term are so bored because there’s nothing to do there that they put all their time and energy into petitioning council for this and that. People in this region just love having a say in everything.


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