Byron Bay nudist beach set to be shut down in controversial move

Byron Bay nudist beach set to be shut down in controversial move

A nudist beach in Byron Bayis likely to be shut down from next month after a surprise move by the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service.

Tyagarah Beach has been operating as a nudist bathing spot for decades and is one of few remaining legal nudist beaches in the state.

However, nude visitors may no longer be allowed on the beach from April 8.

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Byron Bay Shire Council officially declared part of Tyagarah Beach as a “clothing optional” zone in 1998 after a campaign from locals, assuming it had jurisdiction over what was believed to be Crown land.

However, a land survey conducted in 2023 has revealed NSW Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS) is in fact the managing authority of the 800m stretch of beach.

In a letter addressed to Byron Bay Shire Council in December last year, the NWPS wrote the nudist beach was “not consistent with the values the reserve is managed under”.

“For example, people are accessing not only the beach but also the dune and hind-dune which is creating environmental issues. The continuation of a clothes optional area in Tyagarah Nature Reserve is not supported by NPWS,” the letter stated.  

Given the council has no jurisdiction over the land, staff have recommended it revoke its 1998 decision to make the Tyagarah Beach clothes optional.

The recommendation will be voted on by councillors at a public meeting next Thursday.

The recommendation also suggests the council remove “clothing optional” signage at the beach and update its social media information by April 8.

In recent years, the nudist beach has been somewhat of a headache for local council and police, who have fielded complaints about lewd behaviour and sex pests frequenting the area.

In 2018, Byron Bay Shire Council rejected a recommendation to close down the nude beach, instead opting to install CCTV cameras as extra security.

Bradley Benham, from Byron Naturists, said Tyagarah Beach was the last remaining nudist bathing spot north of Sydney on the east coast.

“This 800 metre section is the only legal nude beach between here and Sydney,” he said. 

“There are also none in Queensland.”

Benham said the decision by NWPS came as a shock as he believed safety issues at the site had been resolved with the addition of CCTV cameras.

“Members of Byron Naturists have been involved with the safe beaches committee and, as far as we’re aware, and in speaking with local police as well, there haven’t been reports of issues,” Benham said.

Benham said the closure of the nude beach had left him “pretty upset”.

“I’ve been nude bathing on Byron Shire beaches since I was a child in the 70s and 80s,” he said. 

“With my family at that time, you could go to sections of New Brighton Beach or South Golden Beach that were deserted. 

“Those times have passed. We now have a much greater population. We have a lot more beach users and we need a legal designated area where we can bathe nude.” 

Benham, who has started an online petition calling for the nudist beach to remain open, said he wanted his children to “have the same opportunity to be raised having good confidence in their body”.

“It seems like one of the most natural things in the world to take your clothes off to bathe and nobody would have an issue with doing it in your bathtub at home. 

“But as soon as you do it in the ocean, even if there’s no one else around you are committing a crime.” 

A NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) spokesperson said a final decision on the clothing-optional area had not been made.

“The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to identify alternative locations for the activity to take place,” the spokesperson said.

Contact reporter Emily McPherson at

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