Belongil rock wall. Picture: John Vaughan
Belongil rock wall. Picture: John Vaughan

‘You have blood on your hands’: Byron doof slammed

A BOND University academic has condemned partygoers who trampled a sensitive bird breeding area near Byron Bay at the weekend.

Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Sustainable Environments and Planning Dr Daryl McPhee said he was shocked and saddened to hear about the incident.

Tweed Byron Police District said about 400 people were at the "doof" party at Belongil when officers were called early on Sunday morning.

Dr McPhee has encouraged the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to prosecute the people involved to prevent repeat incidents.

"There must have been organisers of the gathering and they should be held to account," Dr McPhee said.

"Clearly the attendees have no respect for Aboriginal people or culture of the area.

"Organisers and attendees should approach the Aboriginal community with an apology and perhaps some could acknowledge their own ignorance and rectify it by participating in workshops, cultural programs and tours run by the Arkawal people of Byron Bay.

"The bird sanctuary is there for a reason: to provide a high value feeding and roosting habitat for various birds.

"A crowd of 400 people trampling vegetation and loud music is obviously not consistent with a wildlife sanctuary.

"The actions of the participants may have directly compromised the population recovery of the little tern in the area.

"Young people passionate about music and socialising need to make better choices and develop an understanding of the environment and Aboriginal culture.

"I am sure some of the attendees are vegan, I am sure some are passionate about climate change, but none of that matters when you seriously impact a bird sanctuary and threatened species - you have blood on your hands.

"If these sorts of events continue, Byron Bay's credentials as an eco-aware community will be nothing but hot air and local bird species may cease using local critical habitats.

"Surely Byron Bay does not want to be known as a hotspot for local bird extinctions."

Dr McPhee said Belongil Creek is a designated bird sanctuary to protect certain species of birds including endangered terns, beach stone-curlew, osprey and sooty tern.

"Some of the species migrate over 4000km and they are of international significance."

Byron Shire Council general manager Mark Arnold has also criticised organisers.

"The people who organised, and attended, the doof at Belongil on the weekend have no regard for our community or our natural environment," Mr Arnold said.

"There is no place in this shire for illegal dance parties especially in areas like the one at Belongil that is managed by the NPWS, and is a known nesting site for shore birds."

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