Members of the Byron Bay community are outraged after three tourists were reportedly spotted digging two large holes in rockface on a popular beach.
One woman, who flagged the incident with Byron Shire Council, says her “heart broke” when she saw the destruction at Cavvanbah Beach, near Belongil, while on a walk on Thursday.
She explained that she first saw a large group of people under a tarp in the bush on the edge of the sand dunes.
“I called out to them to say it was an environmentally sensitive area and they replied ‘thank you’,” she posted in a community Facebook group.
It was then she saw someone had “dug out the rocks”, the woman added.
Pictures show the deep holes in the coffee rock, otherwise known as formations of indurated sands.
Piles of brown sand can be seen in front.
‘That is a death trap’
The post has sparked a huge reaction online, with many horrified locals deeming the holes “dangerous”.
“That is a death trap. I hope no child goes to play in there. This needs to be blocked off immediately,” one person commented.
Some people said kids just having fun were probably to blame, while others joked that it was the only affordable housing in the area.
Two women said they had caught the culprits in the act.
“I talked to them — three young guys — international tourists who didn’t say they were doing it because they needed shelter,” one of them wrote.
“Rather, they seemed to think they were doing something adventurous and cool.
“No thought that what they were doing was damaging the environment,” she said, claiming that the men had chipped away at multiple parts of the coffee rock before digging in that location.
The second woman said she watched the trio dig it out with shovels while she tried to contact the police.
“It’s soft as, wouldn’t have taken long at all. So bloody dangerous though! There were kids checking it out, imagine if it collapsed!” she added.
Council urges people to stay away
Byron Shire Council posted a photo of the holes on its Facebook on Friday, urging people to stay away from the dunes at Cavvanbah Beach.
“This coffee rock and ancient dune system at Cavvanbah Beach has recently been vandalised and is crumbling and eroding,” the council warned.
“People are asked to to stay well clear of the eroded and unstable sand dunes, and to only use access paths that are open to get onto the beach.
“Council is monitoring the situation and public safety.”
The woman who posted the photos said council told her the holes would be filled.
Anyone who sees environmental vandalism occurring at the site should contact Council’s Public and Environmental Services Team on 6626 7000 or call emergency after hours on 6622 7022.
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