Thursday 23 August 2007

My day at the nude Lagoon

Well, like any self-promoting writer, a good headline is usually the key to grabbing attention.
It was Mark Twain that said "Not all the Greek runners in the original Olympics were totally naked. Some wore shoes."
Since I've resided in the far north, the subject of nudity comes up from time to time in conversation. Any liberal-minded lefty would argue, regardless of their wish to partake, that safe and appropriate places to strip off outdoors, should be embraced. There's nothing nutty or weird about this. I'm not proposing a float in the Festival of Lights at Festival Cairns next month.

Given our local climate and the fact Cairns has such a massive number of international visitors every year, many of whom come from a very liberal and relaxed attitude about nudity, it's high time the Council passed a By-Law to enshrine appropriate beaches to accommodate this.

Yersterday afternoon I wandered around our Esplanade Lagoon pool and surrounding sunning areas, a space that has for some time welcomed some degree of nudity. People visit this area for a raft of different reasons. Thorpie was spotted by our eagle-eyed reporter a few weeks ago, and without a shirt but sporting those speedo-covering three-quarter pants. If he continues such questionable fashion antics, we’ll be writing to revoke his icon status.

Would you believe that our right-wing Council decreed that [female] topless bathing is OK around the Lagoon. Thanks Kev, but they’ve been doing that for years, and at many pools and beaches as well. There has hardly been a ripple since the Civic pronouncement. Even swimmer Geoff Huegill said if he was a girl he “would sunbathe topless”!

However the same situation on The Strand in Townsville a few years ago bought all manner of outcries: "It's indecent exposure"; "we were disgusted"; "My 11-year-old said: 'how come women are allowed to do that?’ It's disgusting’, He said all he wanted to do was to look out at the ocean but he couldn't because those two girls were there,” the Townsville Bulletin reported.

It always shocks me, more than those mothers, why seeing some nudity is so shocking or ‘rude’. It’s the attitude of nudity being intrinsically linked to sex or is it all about their own insecurity and mis-information?

However, public nudity is governed by the State.

The locals' nude favorite of Buchans beach, 20 minutes drive north of Cairns, has from time to time, had the attention of the local constabulary. I recall three [straight] couples were arrested and fined $50 for their nawdy bits hanging out for all to see a few years ago.
Complete nudity is still no-no in Queensland, the only State in Australia to be so. It appears chipping away at such Victorian attitudes, that even the most ardent Hollingworth ousters would support, is a long battle.

A couple of friends were sunbathing al naturale at Bribie Island recently, when local undercover coppers (in board shorts!) gave them both a fine of $100 each.
The Queensland Government said over 10 years ago that it would consider a trial clothes-free beach in the Burnett Shire. The majority of councillors voted to ask the State Government to allow a local nudist beach. Mayor Ray Duffy said while he would not frequent one, he does think the Council has a responsibility to provide an area for those who would.

"We're also going to look at changes we'd need to make to local laws and based on that we'll make an application to the Queensland Government that we be the first of the three beaches that are set aside for 'clothing-optional' in the state of Queensland."

The FNQ Free Beach Association have lobbied Cairns City Council and the Queensland Government for some time in an attempt to allow Buchans Point to be a legal nude beach. They have made detailed submissions to the State Government, and also the Cairns City Council. However moves over recent years to legalise nude beaches was blocked.

In 1975, South Australia displayed its liberal attitudes by declaring the first legal nude-bathing beach in Australia. Victorian Premier Rupert Hamer’s opinion on nude bathing was reported at the time saying ‘I don’t go in for it myself, but I think it’s worth looking at.’

Public nudity is covered by the Vagrants Gaming and Other Offenses Act, and by the Criminal Code. This legislation was conceived and enacted in a bygone era and was originally intended to cover situations where there was an intention to shock or offend. The situation of acceptable public nudity was not envisaged.

An example of simple and effective legislation is that was enacted by South Australia in 1975 is Section 23a. This was added to the Police Offences Act 1953 provides: "An act of being in an unclad state in an area dedicated or reserved under any Act for unclad bathing, or an act of being in an unclad state in any waters adjacent to such an area shall not of itself, be an offense against any Act or Law in force in this State".
Of course, the illegality of nude bathing doesn't stop many people from partaking. Some of the more secluded beaches in the north of Queensland are ideal for nude sunbathing.

There are a number of locations which are known for their unofficial status as a location to shed your garb, but beware as it is an illegal practice, and police do fine nude people on these beaches.

Buchans Point is located just north of Palm Cove, about 25km north of Cairns. It is by far the most popular unofficial clothes-optional beach in the area and has been recognised as such for over 60 years.

Other spots are Pretty Beach that is located 1km north of the Rex Lookout, on the highway south of Oak Beach. Cape Tribulation is a beautiful rainforest area, 160 km from Cairns , north of the Daintree River. Cape Kimberley is a rather remote but beautiful bay with few people, a casual atmosphere, and lots of secluded spots. Cow Bay is very popular with backpackers, with the most accepted nude bathing area is the third bay as you walk north along the beach.

Did you know that some local tour operators in Cairns are welcoming to accommodate a nude cruise on The Great Barrier Reef?

Here's a nice story about Anita Grigg of Brisbane who recently told her story to the Courier Mail.

I recall Elle MacPherson saying that she "comes from a country where you don't wear clothes most of the year. Nudity is the most natural state. I was born nude and I hope to be buried nude."

So, I think it's about time this Council dealt with what will not only be a popular issue, but one that will know not cause any offense to the majority, now matter what side of the beach you sit on.

Hold on to your knickers.. here's some local nudie links:-


Anonymous said...

Ho hum. Yawwwwwwwwwwwwn. Oh everyone is just so broad-minded, so bloody OUT THERE with nudity.
Floods of letters into "The Cairns Post" by people all anxious to proclaim themselves as BROAD MINDED sophisticates and all in favour of topless sunbathing on the Cairns foreshore.
Yeah, they're all BROAD MINDED.

Except when the sun seeker has had a mastectomy. BROAD MINDEDNESS quickly dries up. Funny that.

Anonymous said...

ROFL. BROAD MINDEDNESS is only as broad as cultural norms.

Tad said...

It is so sad that this point is still an issue in OZ. Half of the civilized world is OK with Nudity in one form or another, but OZ is still in 19 century.
People!!!! Look at Germany, Croatia, Czechs, France even Italy and Greece, so conservative Poland and today’s Russia. We looks like over moralized (by few) freaks or religious fundamentalist!!
And is sad, that it took two years for 3-rd comment on this subject

Unknown said...

Australia is socially conservative relative to Europe, without a doubt. But another element in the equation is that Australians are also stridently outspoken compared to most Europeans, and the two combined mean that an ugly hue and cry about "perverts" (very 1960's terminology, it strikes me) is reliably raised against any initiative to officialise clothes-optional recreational areas. Elected leaders of State and local governments run scared from any negative controversy and risk of complaint and litigation, so causes that involve a move away from the status quo get little or no support, even if the loudmouth complainers are a nonrepresentative minority.

Divergence between social mores and legislation in the field of public nudity and public sex in Britain (as mother country) and Australia has widened in recent years to an astonishing degree. Inoffensive public nudity is no longer a civil offence or crime in the UK post Sexual Offences Act 2003, and some of the most popular dogging sites are semi-officially designated as public sex environments by regional police forces.