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To preserve and enhance the cultural environmental and social sustainability of the Tyagarah Area and its inhabitants

« Rubbish Collection (East Tyagarah) | Main | TSCA comments on RTA Task Force's interim reports »

May 26, 2003

Management of Tyagarah Nature Reserve

Dianne sent this letter to NPWS about hte Nature Reserve

Wayne Pellow
Tyagarah Area Manager
National Parks & Wildlife Service
PO Box 856 Alstonville NSW 2477

Dear Mr Pellow,
I am a local resident of Tyagarah. I am writing to you
to express my alarm at the various negative impacts of
recent development in and around the Tyagarah Nature
Reserve and the Tyagarah Beach section of the Marine
Park. I walk or bicycle to the beach almost every day
and I notice acutely the changes which occur.

..... see More for the full text ....

Wayne Pellow
Tyagarah Area Manager
National Parks & Wildlife Service
PO Box 856 Alstonville NSW 2477

Dear Mr Pellow,
I am a local resident of Tyagarah. I am writing to you
to express my alarm at the various negative impacts of
recent development in and around the Tyagarah Nature
Reserve and the Tyagarah Beach section of the Marine
Park. I walk or bicycle to the beach almost every day
and I notice acutely the changes which occur.

The most significant developments leading to
degradation are the paving of the carpark and the
widening and re-surfacing of the roads. The
psychological effect of paving, sealing, widening,
building, etc, ALWAYS causes a distancing from nature,
a decrease in awareness of nature, an increase in
non-local visitation, and insensitive, destructive
behaviour such as littering, speeding, etc.

The negative impacts and the resultant human behaviour
of concern are:


These developments have led to damage to surrounding
vegetation and considerable increase in speed and
number of cars using Gray's Lane and the road through
the Nature Reserve to the beach, and the related
decrease in awareness of nature. It is also creating a
major problem with dust and safety for pedestrians and
cyclists. Speeds up to 70 - 100 kph have been observed
routinely. There is an observable considerable
increase in the numbers of wildlife being killed on
the roads, including bandicoots, wallabies, echidnas,
brush turkeys, all species of snakes, lizards, etc.
The dust thickly coats all the vegetation for a
considerable distance on either side of the road,
compromising the quality of the habitat. Local
residents who walk and ride are being obliged to wear
masks over their faces to avoid respiratory problems
from the dust. This is NOT a call for paving the road;
that would only cause further decline in the public
attitude and more problems. Traffic speed limits are
required (for example 40 kph), in addition to any
measures which will decrease the number of visitors.
(The potential tiny financial loss from a decrease in
visitors must be considered of no significance
compared to the crucial conservation issues and the
quality of life of local residents at stake. The
recent developments produce vastly, immeasurably more
damage and deterioration than the minuscule permit fee
could bring in, even supposing the "honour" system

This has also led to a considerable increase in cars
and rubbish and a decrease in awareness of nature.
This has created a convenience-for-us attitude to the
place, and again, a decrease in awareness of nature
and the purpose of the Nature Reserve. Certainly most
people would argue that toilets are necessary, but
every argument for "necessary" conveniences for human
visitors decreases the conservation effectiveness of
the Reserve and thus compromises its major function.

Every day there are dogs on the beach and they are
almost never on a leash. This is of MAJOR CONCERN now
that marine turtles have been observed laying eggs on
Tyagarah Beach (13th February this year). All marine
turtles are endangered and the maximum effort must be
made to protect the laying females and the hatchlings
from attack by introduced animals and harrassment by
excessive numbers of tourists. There have also been
increasing sightings of koalas in East Tyagarah. Dogs
are a significant threat to this endangered species

Jet skis and rubber outboards have been seen speeding
along the shore in waist-deep water past children and
swimmers. I was almost hit by a jet ski in 4 feet of
water, and people on the beach were very worried and
ready to come to the rescue, seeing how close the
skiier passed. This also raises concerns for turtles
coming ashore to lay eggs, and for the hatchlings
going out to sea.

The trail bikes are ridden at high speed along the
sand, and I observed one miss a baby by less than a
metre as it crawled between its parents and the
water's edge. Another hazard for marine turtles too.

I am aware that certain users have permission to drive
on the beach, but locals have been reporting damage to
the pipis in the shallows from vehicles passing.
Horses were banned from the beach for this reason, and
we find it extraordinary that cars, with their greater
weight and continuous pressure on the sand, are still

This has resulted from the considerable increase in
the number of non-local visitors and the declining
attitudes to nature. On one half-hour walk, just on
one side of the nature reserve road, I collected 25
drink containers, of which 85% were alcohol
containers. There are also increasing complaints from
locals about finding used syringes, condoms and
pornographic literature thrown into the bushes.

A high percentage of the times that an unaccompanied
woman attends the beach (whether clad or not) she is
approached and harrassed by men. This harrassment
ranges from the most common form, which is setting
down their gear uncomfortably close to the woman (as
close as 2 metres) even on a lightly-populated beach,
staring at the woman, forcing eye contact, forcing
conversation when it is clear the woman wants to be
left alone, masturbating in sight of the woman, and
less commonly, physically contacting the woman,
attempts at restraint and forcing sexual interaction.
This kind of behaviour is rapidly on the increase, and
many women are now avoiding going to the beach because
of it. We have felt the need to burden ourselves with
cameras and mobile phones every time we go to the
beach, and find it increasingly difficult to relax and
appreciate nature.

Gay men's magazines and television shows in Queensland
have been advertising the Tyagarah Beach as a sexual
rendezvous. Byron tourist magazines and backpacker
brochures have been advertising the tea tree lakes as
a tourist destination. This advertising is TOTALLY
INAPPROPRIATE for a Nature Reserve and Marine Park and
must be tracked down and stopped.


The Nature Reserve and Marine Park, as you are aware,
form an important ecological continuum and no part can
be excluded from attention in the interests of
conservation of nature. The conservation of nature is
their primary function. The Nature Reserve is NOT a
tourist resort, destination or recreation area.

Description of a Nature Reserve: "An area of special
scientific interest. Mainly established to conserve
their native plant and animal communities. Very few
have visitor facilities."

Description of a Marine Park: "A unique and
outstanding marine area, set aside to conserve
seawater plants and animals."

For all of the compelling reasons enumerated in this
letter, it is recommended that the following actions
be undertaken by National Parks and Wildlife Service
in conjunction with the Byron Shire Council:

1. A complete moratorium on any further widening or
surfacing of roads from the Pacific Highway along
Gray's Lane all the way to the beach, or any increase
in road access from any direction to the Nature
Reserve area and beach.

2. A speed limit with signs, plus/or speed bumps, from
the junction of Gray's Lane with the Pacific Highway,
all the way to the carpark at Tyagarah Beach.


3. Re-designation of the Tyagarah Nature Reserve as a
Conservation Park, to maximize legal protection and
conservation of habitat and to minimize development.

4. A complete moratorium on any further building,
clearing, paving, or any other development in the
Nature Reserve or at the beach.

5. Large, separate, highly visible signs at the
entrance to the Nature Reserve and the beach carpark,
banning dogs and offering the maximum possible
penalties for breach, plus the conservation reasons
for the ban. Add an increase in enforcement.

6. That signs be posted at boat ramps at Brunswick
Heads, Byron Bay and any other nearby access points
for motorized water craft, banning such craft from the
stretch of coast out to a certain distance (eg 500
metres - consult with Marine Parks) from shore,
adjacent to the Tyagarah Nature Reserve.

7. That signs be posted at any road access to Tyagarah
Beach and the Nature Reserve from Gray's Lane,
Brunswick Heads and Byron Bay, banning trail bikes and
other motorized vehicles from driving in the Nature
Reserve and on Tyagarah Beach. If certain vehicles
must retain permits, then they must all be notified
that the beach is a turtle breeding location and that
their speed must be kept down during the time turtles
are known to be laying and hatching, to a level
determined by Marine Parks as a safe speed for
spotting turtles and hatchlings on the beach to avoid

8. That some kind of anti-litter educational signs be
posted at the beach and the entrance to the Nature
Reserve or tea tree lake strongly suggesting that
people take all their rubbish away with them. At the
beach it could be pointed out that litter on the beach
gets into the sea and kills marine turtles. (We
appreciate that rubbish bins are NOT an option; they
would only be used by people emptying out their cars
and dumping household rubbish, and would become
uncontrolled areas of loose rubbish).

9. That the inappropriate advertising be tracked down
and stopped. This should effect a reduction in the
numbers of visitors who come for sexual or other
reasons that do not relate to appreciation of natural
beauty and values, and may flow on to a reduction in
sexual harrassment.

10. I have no immediate suggestions for how to address
the problem of the vandalization of the permit box.
Various visitors in cars wondered why there were often
no permit envelopes to use. Walking to the beach one
day, picking up litter as I went, I found a whole slab
of permits torn in halves and thrown into the bushes
half way to the beach.

For reference I have enclosed a copy of the letter I
wrote to you when all this development was in the
proposed or beginning stages. The concerns about
visitor/vehicle access expressed in that letter have
proven valid, and a general deterioration in community
and environmental values has occurred since the

Please take all possible action to rescue the Tyagarah
Nature Reserve and beach from any further impacts and
developments, by implementing the suggestions listed
above, and any other suitable, conservation-oriented
suggestions that may arise in the course of your

Yours sincerely,

Dianne Trussell, BSc Hons (Ecology)


Byron Bay office of the Marine Park
General Manager of Byron Shire Council
Environmental Planner of Byron Shire Council
Councillors of Byron Shire
Tyagarah Progress Association

Posted at May 26, 2003 12:00 AM

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