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THE BYRON SHIRE Volume 33 #05

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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Nude bathing case thrown out

Simon Alderton

Do you believe in love at first sight? Many people love Byron and at first sight. Turning onto Ewingsdale Road you pass The Farm, the hospital and then lot 101 – an abandoned homestead on a beautiful elevated piece of land with a few grazing cows. You can’t miss this house, it stands out for miles as you drive the main road into town and looks most ‘unloved’. Driving past every day I often imagined this historic homestead in all its glory. What a stunning entry into one of the most unique, character-filled towns in Australia. Then, I wondered how on earth this amazing property was allowed to fall into such disarray? My curiosity led me to ask questions about the Higgins Homestead and an avalanche of responses followed. Stories going back into Byron’s history, music videos showing the pop group Dope Lemon dancing around the quintessentially Australian verandah and of course, lots of angst from local residents about the sad tale of its contemporary demise. This property is currently owned by Belbeck Investments, part of the majority-Chinese-owned McDonald’s beef empire with an interest in property. In 2013 they sought rezoning of the 15-hectare precinct for a proposed 200 or so unit retirement village on the site; the Higgins Homestead was to be restored, but lost in amongst the urban sprawl. Council deemed the development ‘inappropriate’ and knocked it back and the house has been left to continued on page 2

Maxine Hawker at the tea tree lake where she was charged on January 20 with offensive behaviour for bathing naked. Photo Jeff Dawson Chris Dobney

Non-mainstream lifestyle choices aren’t ‘axiomatically offensive’, Magistrate Dunlevy told Byron Bay local court on Friday, ruling that Sunrise resident Maxine Hawker had no case to answer for bathing naked at the tea tree lakes at Grays Lane in January. The magistrate said that the police had failed to prove Ms Hawker’s actions were ‘calculated to wound feelings, or arouse anger, disgust, resentment or outrage’. Ms Hawker, who represented herself at the hearing, told the court she had no idea she was breaking

Police had failed to prove Ms Hawker’s actions were ‘calculated to wound feelings, or arouse anger, disgust, resentment or outrage’. the law and had not seen a sign near the entrance to the lake, which had been recently installed, warning of penalties. But within minutes of arriving and entering the water, she was issued a $500 fine for bathing naked, which she chose to fight, telling the court, ‘I’m not a criminal, I’m a lawabiding person.’ Ms Hawker went with a male friend to the lake on a whim in the

early afternoon of January 20 and decided to take a dip. Having recently had a shoulder operation, she told the court she thought it would be therapeutic. She stripped off and her male friend, who was wearing board shorts, helped her into the water. She said there were a few other people about, none of whom appeared the slightest bit perturbed that she was naked.

Senior Constable Michael Chaffey and Constable Timothy Hayes, of Brunswick Heads Police Station, told the court they witnessed Ms Hawker ‘very slowly and gingerly entering the water’ from about 40 metres away.

Sexual assaults Cross-examining Snr Const Chaffey, Ms Hawker asked him why he was patrolling the lake that day. ‘We had received reports of sexual assaults,’ he said, adding police were ‘targeting naked people as well as more lewd activity’, as they had continued on page 2

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The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 33.05 – July 11, 2018  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.

The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 33.05 – July 11, 2018  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.