Hundreds of revellers have been condemned for gathering en masse across Byron Bay for rowdy Christmas festivities, sparking an angry response from authorities and locals.
Police were called to several public gatherings in the iconic NSW tourist spot on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day where hundreds of party-goers were ordered to leave.
Large crowds had to be dispersed at Apex Park on both December 25 and 26 by police who on Sunday issued a stern reminder to the public that drinking alcohol in public was strictly prohibited.
Police were also called to the National Park area at Tyagarah about midnight on Saturday where an illegally organised party was being held.
A number of people had to be cleared from a larger gathering at Apex Park in the early hours of Sunday morning as well, with police ordering people to tip out their alcohol as they left.
Shortly after, police shut down a party of about 300 people at Byron Bay’s Main Beach, and another 300 people at Belongil Beach.
A horrendous mess was left at both beaches Sunday morning, with irate locals left to clean up the mess, which they believed backpackers were responsible for.
One local tasked with helping find the lost phone of one attendee shared photos of some of the rubbish left behind to Facebook, described the scene “bloody disgusting”.
“There were smouldering logs from the fire and broken glass throughout the sand. The sand had so much buried trash that I was stepping on buried bottles, cans and trash of every description,” he wrote.
Hundreds of people had to be dispersed while 73 parking tickets were issued and music equipment was seized.
Officers from the Tweed/Byron Police District are liaising with National Parks and Wildlife regarding further infringements for organisers/attendees.
Tweed/Byron Police District Commander Superintendent David Roptell slammed party organisers and attendees, appealing for those involved to show some respect for the environment.
“It’s not fair for council workers and locals to have to clean the significant mess that is being left after each of these gatherings,” Supt Roptell said.
“I urge those who are intent on meeting in parks and beaches to not only do so safely but be respectful to the environment and those around you by cleaning up after yourself.”
He added that officers would not tolerate anyone who risked their safety or the safety of others “with foolish behaviour”.
“This year’s Christmas and New Year’s celebrations must be conducted in a Covid-safe environment,” he said.
“This year is very different, there will be no large gatherings, no dance parties in the park. Social distancing is the new normal, and we all have to do our bit to stop the spread.
“The NSW Police Force continues to work closely with health officials and other government agencies, businesses and the community to manage the Covid-19 crisis and minimise the spread of the virus.”
‘Go home you filthy grubs’
Peeved locals expressed outrage over the festive period antics in Byron Bay, calling on backpackers to “go home” if they were intent on causing havoc in Australia.
“Go home you filthy grubs,” someone wrote after seeing evidence of their destruction.
“That’s disgusting - it’s no wonder why people don’t like backpackers! They take everything and contribute nothing,” another wrote in a comment.
“How young people who should be the champions of the environment can do this is beyond me,” someone else wrote.
“If they can't respect our beautiful environment then they can go somewhere else,” another said.
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