Friday, December 15, 2006

Nudist beach hits raw nerve

Source: Southern Courier
Author: Michelle Wranik Posted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006

Photo by Danielle Butters ( buy this )

Little Congwong beach is in the spotlight again, with a tug of war erupting over its status as a nudist beach.

The secluded La Perouse beach, which is reached only by walking through the Botany Bay national park, has been used peacefully by naturists for more than 40 years, but locals and some Randwick councillors have been fighting to reclaim it.

Last year, the council erected signs prohibiting nude bathing, following a number of complaints about people engaging in explicit sexual acts and gay cruising.

However, naturists responded by forming a lobby group titled the Free Beach Action Group.

The group’s convener, Gerald Ganglbauer, said naturists were being punished by the behaviour of perverts who were not part of the naturist community.

“I’m sick and tired of talking about weirdos, perverts, sexual predators and the old mud throwing,” he said. “These people need help, they have to be reported and this has nothing to do with naturism.”

For the past 12 months, the group has been campaigning and recently wrote to the NSW Environment Minister, Bob Debus, in an attempt to have the beach designated as a nude bathing area under Section 633 of the Local Government Act.

In the letter, naturists pointed out that Little Congwong had been used for nude bathing for many years, and its isolated location meant it had little effect on the surrounding area.

A letter of reply from Mr Debus’s office stated that the matter would receive “close consideration”.

But support for the naturists is waning – at least at Randwick Council.

Earlier this year South Ward councillor Robert Belleli said he would campaign against the beach being declared clothing-optional because he believed it would encourage “sleazy characters”.

At tonight’s (Tuesday) council meeting, Greens councillor Murray Matson will move a motion requesting that residents, not naturists, clean Little Congwong beach during the annual Clean Up Australia day – a move which has outraged the Free Beach Action Group.

“If Murray attacks our Clean Up Australia Day, he is pretty much in opposition not only to other Randwick residents, but also to the media,” Mr Ganglbauer said.

“I was interviewed on the beach and the segment went to air on national ABC TV News, as well as online and on Triple J radio all day – we enjoyed 100 per cent positive media response and did a bloody good job cleaning up our beach, too.”


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