COMMUNITY CONCERN: Gyan Moyes and Richard Burford, of Tyagarah, are concerned with the level of predatory behaviour in and around the clothes optional beach at Tyagarah.
COMMUNITY CONCERN: Gyan Moyes and Richard Burford, of Tyagarah, are concerned with the level of predatory behaviour in and around the clothes optional beach at Tyagarah. Marc Stapelberg

Standing up to creeps: Residents take back their beach

RICHARD Burford says if a woman was to attend the once peaceful Tyagarah beach between Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads "she can expect to be intimidated by naked creepers".

The Tyagarah resident said the increasing "predatory male behaviour" on the clothing optional beach was "outrageous".

"There's been women on the beach and men rubbing up against them and masturbating in front of them," Mr Burford said.

"We have an overwhelming amount of stories on this - it doesn't matter if they have little kids, if they are pregnant, are 80 years old or 18.

"We've got stories of women who have been stalked, chased and threatened.

"You have no idea of the creepiness of the perpetrators."

Mr Burford said he had been attending Byron Bay Safe Beaches Meetings this year which are facilitated by Simon Richardson.

"We're old idealists. We're not prudish, we've lived our lives in the Northern Rivers but this behaviour does not meet acceptable community standards of behaviours.

"We are trying to persuade council of our view which is the only way this beach will become safe again is to overturn the clothes optional development application."

Last year council resolved to implement a number of signs and increase police presence, given the number of sexual and indecent assault occurring at the secluded beach front.

The clothes optional area stretches for 800m and starts 200m south of Grays Lane.

Mr Burford said the police presence worked for a time but "it takes a minimum of 25 minutes, for available police resources to respond to a call from this isolated beach".

He said "sex pests" were a "dangerous by-product of the nude beach" and was also experienced at Sunrise beach end.

"We have stories of a councillor who went down to read a paper and the next minute there's a guy with a big stiffy in front of her.

"This is somehow regarded as 'blokey and lewd' but its not. There is a lot of traumatised women, it's an issue."

Mr Burford said at a future meeting the core of the recommendation he will put forward will be for council to reverse the clothes optional decision.

"Then we will be looking at constant surveillance by police in the different areas of the tea tree lakes, car parks and the beach," he said.

"I think first of all the council has to allow that stretch to go back to being allowed to be policed properly."

He said the stretch of beach was once enjoyed by families.

"We used to go down the beach and take our kids down there... then it suddenly became very clear to us these very strange men were parading up and down.

"We stopped going down there and stopped taking our kids. We all withdrew.

"Men are coming from out of town walking up the beach and this idea of masturbating in front of women is just a normal part of their culture.

"One woman in the clothes optional area the other day had something like 15 men on the shores trying to get out to her and it really freaked her out.

"We are just not getting a good enough response from council to really take this issue seriously for what it is. I think they have been out of touch and naive to what the reality is."

Tweed Byron Police District Inspector Matt Kehoe said no assaults had been recorded down there of recent times.

"There is ongoing tasking in and around Tyagarah Beach area that involves Byron police, Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby police.

"I can reassure people the patrols that we do will be ongoing at the location.

"Police are working with local community members, National Parks, businesses, council and users of the clothing optional beach to make it a safer area for everybody."

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