NewsCO.com.au – ‘Sex pests’ spark calls for nude beach relocation at Byron Bay

September 17, 2017

Posted

September 14, 2017 14:20:12

Byron Bay is renowned as a global destination for free-spirited tourists, but locals say a clothing-optional beach to the town’s north is attracting sexual predators.

Colleen Graham lives at Tyagarah, just off the Pacific Highway in northern New South Wales, and said she could no longer walk through the local nature reserve or along the beach without being confronted or harassed.

“I’ve had a range of encounters. The most common one is lying on my towel reading a book and a naked man moving his towel very close to me and masturbating,” she said.

“I’ve also seen oral sex, group sex, I’ve had a man physically block my way, men standing really close to my face when I’m on a towel, totally naked and trying to interact with me.

“Pretty much every time I visit the beach, especially if it’s a busy period on the weekend, in the middle of the day, I can almost guarantee I’ll have some sort of experience down at the beach.”

The Tyagarah Nature Reserve is listed on several public websites as a ‘beat’ (a meeting place for sex), but Ms Graham said it had become more than a pick-up spot for consenting adults.

“It’s gone a whole lot further than that now with people who are actually harassing people down there,” she said.

“I can still see ‘beat’ happening, but now actual sex pests are going there and being predators.”

‘Nudity encouraging perverted behaviour’

Police have charged at least two men with sexual assault in the area in recent weeks.

Tweed-Byron acting local area commander Jackie Lilley said police had increased patrols.

“Police are encouraging community members to be aware of their surroundings at all times and of course, to report any suspicious behaviour or unwanted behaviour of other users to the area,” she said.

However, Tyagarah residents are calling for the beach’s clothing-optional status to be revoked.

Ms Graham believed the nudity was encouraging perverted behaviour.

“I don’t have a problem with nudity at all, but I don’t think it’s working as a naturist beach,” she said.

“There’s not that friendly, idealistic naturist scene going on there.”

Calls to move nude area

A 1.3km stretch of the beach was declared clothing-optional by the Byron Shire Council in 1998.

There was an attempt in 2013 to revoke that status, after similar complaints from Tyagarah residents about sexual predators.

But councillor Paul Spooner successfully moved to continue allowing nudity in the area.

“This is something that’s been raised a number of times over the years but there’s never been a solution to it,” Cr Spooner said.

“It’s been put into the too hard basket I suspect. But given the social issues that have been continuing, I think it’s time that council did something about it.”

Cr Spooner said he would call upon the council to investigate moving the clothing-optional area closer to Byron Bay.

“There is a demand for clothes-optional beaches, so if it’s in the right location and the negative aspects that have been felt at Tyagarah were able to be managed out, then I think why not?” Cr Spooner said.

“It’s something that’s been a part of beach culture around the country.”

Naturists defend nudity

Relocating the clothing-optional area is supported by the Australian Naturist Federation.

Spokesman Stuart Whelan said Tyagarah was an isolated location.

“One of the things we’ve often argued is that clothing-optional beaches should be part of the more mainstream and easily accessible beaches, rather than in tucked away and hard-to-patrol areas,” Mr Whelan said.

“People go where they’re most likely to get away with their nefarious deeds, so what you don’t want is for areas to be difficult to get to.”

Mr Whelan also insisted the majority of naturists were no threat to public safety.

“It’s a great panacea for the issues of day-to-day life. It also helps with issues around body image,” he said.

“Down on the beach you see everyone is quite unique but very much the same, and that there’s no such thing as a perfect body except the body that you’re in.

“It desexualises this thing that we all have, which is the human body.”

Topics:

crime,

crime-prevention,

lifestyle-and-leisure,

lifestyle,

travel-and-tourism,

tyagarah-2481,

byron-bay-2481

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