NSW nude-friendly beach on its last legs after management snafu

Advocates say clothing-optional Tyagarah Beach provides a sense of community.

Advocates say clothing-optional Tyagarah Beach provides a sense of community. Photo: TND/ Facebook/ Byron Naturists

A community of people who don’t mind sand getting into uncomfortable places will have to keep their kit on if they want to visit a previously nude-friendly NSW beach.

Tyagarah Beach has been a ‘clothing-optional’ zone run by Byron Bay Shire Council since 1998. Then, in 2023, a land survey revealed the area fell under the management of NSW Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS).

Last week, a Byron Bay Shire Council vote passed a motion acknowledging its 1998 decision to make Tyagarah Beach clothing-optional was redundant, as the council did not have the authority to make the decision.

The motion went on to say that the council will work with NPWS to remove or amend relevant signage and social media information by June 30.

This represents a slight reprieve for pro-nudity campaigners, who had previously been faced with an April 8 cutoff date.

But there appears to be little hope of any further delay, with councillors noting during their meeting that NWPS nature reserve policies “expressly forbid” having a clothing-optional area.

In a 2023 letter to the Byron Bay Shire Council, NPWS acting executive director park operations (coastal) Deon van Rensburg said maintaining a clothing-optional area in the nature reserve was “not consistent with the values” the rest of Tyagarah Nature Reserve is managed under.


A rally to ‘save’ Tyagarah Beach was held in February. Photo: Facebook/ Byron Naturists

A subsequent petition to keep the beach clothing-optional insisted “nude recreation is a legitimate way of life” and that thousands of people enjoy Tyagarah Beach responsibly.

Arguments for and against

As tensions ran high during last week’s meeting, the council heard impassioned arguments for both sides of the matter.

“Council has not followed through with its 2018 commitments around making the beach safer,” said community member Christopher Moyes.

Mother-of-two Ebony Eagles tearfully told the council nudity was not contained to the designated zone,  her husband and youngest daughter having encountered men with erect penises while on a nearby bike ride. Eagles herself said she had been sexually harassed by a nude man in the area.

On the other side of the fence, Byron Naturists representative Bradley Benham said he regularly takes his family to the beach and the loss of it would be “devastating” for local naturists”.

The nearest legal nude beach, in Nelson Bay, is more than six hours away.

Jessa O’Brien, also representing Byron Naturists, made the point that beaches of this kind play a positive role in the wider community by providing a space to enjoy non-sexual social nudity, especially in a society that idealises unrealistic body standards.

Hunting for Australia’s nude beaches

Naturist beaches are far from the norm in Australia, but there are still some to be found.

South Australia is home to Maslin Beach, which became the country’s first legal nude beach in 1975.

Not long after, in 1976, Lady Bay Beach was classified as a nudist beach, allowing naked swimmers to make the most of Sydney Harbour.

A trip along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road can be complemented by a clothes-free dip at Torquay’s Point Impossible, while in Tasmania, thousands of people brave freezing waters as part of Dark Mofo’s annual Nude Solstice Swim at Hobart’s Long Beach.

Queensland is the only Australian state without a legal nude beach, although there a several popular local spots where skinny-dipping is an open secret.

As for beaches where clothing – albeit minimal – is essential, Australia has some of the best in the world.

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