Naked protesters at a recent rally to keep the clothes-optional zone at Tyagarah Beach near Byron Bay. (ABC North Coast: Bruce MacKenzie)
A nudist beach near Byron Bay will remain open, despite ongoing complaints about lewd behaviour and sex pests.
Byron councillors this week rejected a staff recommendation that the clothes-optional zone at Tyagarah Beach be abolished.
The decision disgusted Tyagarah woman Gwen Gould.
The 77-year-old addressed the councillors before they voted, telling them she was one of many women who had been harassed by naked men at the beach.
“One of them even said ‘If the women don’t like this they should go to another beach,’,” Ms Gould said.
Tyagarah woman Gwen Gould says she’s disgusted by the decision. (ABC North Coast: Bruce MacKenzie)
“We are locals, we are residents, I live two kilometres from this beach.
“I can’t believe it, that sexual perverts have more priority than local women and children.”
Local woman Jade Goldberg told the council she no longer visited the beach, despite it being the closest one to her home.
“I am not particularly against nudists, but Grays Lane [Tyagarah] Beach is a very unsafe environment,” she said.
Tyagarah woman Jade Goldberg told the council she felt scared when visiting her local beach. (ABC North Coast: Bruce MacKenzie)
“I’m always clothed to separate myself from the many advances … lewd behaviour, unwarranted gestures and approaches.
“It left me feeling frustrated, scared and angry.”
The council considered figures from Tweed-Byron Police, which showed there had been 89 incidents relating to sexual assault, offensive behaviour, or obscene exposure in the Tyagarah-Belongil area since 2017.
That is compared to 10 similar incidents on all other beaches in Byron Bay during the same period.
Police said more regular patrols of the Tyagarah area could be a factor in the trend.
Protesters line up at a ‘nude not lewd’ rally on Tyagarah Beach, near Byron Bay. (Sept 2018) (Bruce MacKenzie – ABC North Coast.)
David Dixon, from the Byron Naturists Group, said he was delighted and relieved by the decision.
“We feel it’s a victory for the responsible, law-abiding majority of users over a tiny minority of troublemakers,” he said.
“It says that we are strong enough and smart enough to drive off a few reprobates.
“Legal nude beaches are rare, there are only eight on Australia’s east coast … so we think a great community and national asset has been saved.”
Cameras to be installed
Byron Deputy Mayor Basil Cameron moved the motion to keep the nude beach open.
“No good blaming our naturists, residents and visitors, and giving the sex pests a free reign really,” he said.
“We recognise the efforts made by the naturist groups in reclaiming the beach, in their very active custodianship of the beach, and pushing back against these pests.
The Byron Council also voted to investigate spending $10,000 to install 20 cameras around the carpark and ti-tree lake area.
“I think the cameras in those areas, particularly the carpark, can help the police and others monitor the folk on the site,” Cr Cameron said.
“It will certainly help if there are any reports of further incidents up there.”
A safe beaches committee will report back to the council every six months.