Visitors to a popular South Australian beach have been condemned by local council after "shocking" scenes played out on Christmas Day.
The reckless behaviour on Goolwa Beach, about 67 kilometres south of the Adelaide city centre, has been ongoing, according to Alexandrina Council Mayor Keith Parkes, and if not stopped, could have devastating consequences.
The local hotspot is one of the region's most popular 4WD beaches and often sees families with pets camping with their vehicles. One major problem is that Goolwa Beach is a 4WD beach, meaning all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles, or regular cars, are prohibited because they often get bogged in the sand — although this doesn't stop them.
Reckless behaviour causes damage to beach
On Christmas Day hoards of cars were seen driving up and down the beach, with wild manoeuvres causing significant damage to the area, Mr Parkes told ABC Radio presenter Leigh Radford — and it could take "years and years, if it ever recovers".
"We witnessed a number of 4WD reversing up to the water's edge and then charging at the sand dunes trying to get up on top of the dunes," Mr Parkes explained. "It's shocking. The damage they've done is absolutely amazing."
Another man driving an AWD was filmed "roaring along the edge of water partially into seas", Mr Parkes said, driving "well over 40km" he added. In October, the speed limit on the sand was reduced from 100km to a maximum of 40km following a push from the local council.
Mr Parkes said this particular driver sped past the exit ramp and onto a stretch of beach where vehicles aren't allowed, before driving back with "no consideration for people on the beach or the environment". The mayor fears if this behaviour continues vehicle access will be banned for good.
Fight to make beach safer for families
The council has been looking for ways to make the beach safer for families and also animals, and changing the speed limit was a good place to start, Alexandrina Council chief executive officer Nigel Morris previously told ABC radio. The council approached the Transport Department about the issue in 2021, Adelaide Now reported.
"When you're mixing cars, and horses and people, you really need to drive to the conditions. It is a family environment," he said. "You do go down to the beach for family enjoyment, and when you're having cars speeding past you, safety is not as paramount as it should be."
A similar issue is facing 4WD beaches along Queensland's Cooloola Coast although "hooning behaviour" here is commonly involves "drivers being under the influence". Another issue facing these beaches including Rainbow Beach, Cooloola Beach, Double Island Point and K’gari (Fraser Island) is their isolated location.
This means help could take more than an hour to arrive. Phone reception is also unreliable along parts of the coast.
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