Safety fears for nudists

NUDISTS say Alexandria Bay on the Sunshine Coast is not the best option for Queensland's first "clothing optional" beach because it is too isolated in an emergency.

Free Beaches Australia secretary Anita Grigg said a rescue at Alexandria Bay in Noosa National Park last weekend highlighted the problems of raising the alarm and access for emergency services.

Alexandria Bay - an unofficial nudist beach - is one of four options the Sunshine Coast Regional Council is considering for the state's first legal nude beach.

Ms Grigg said the beach was unpatrolled and, while most local residents were aware of rips and difficulties involved with rescues, tourists often ran into trouble.

The council's chief life guard, Heath Collie, said the bay was "extremely isolated".

Two people have died there in the past two years.

Mr Collie said the walk from the main car park to the bay took about 45 minutes and the drive from Sunshine Beach took 10 minutes through "fairly rough terrain". By water, the trip took 10 minutes from Sunrise Beach by power-ski, or 10 minutes by inflatable boat from Noosa Heads, he said.

The beach has no mobile phone reception. Two emergency radio beacons were installed at the beach about a year ago for people to alert Sunshine Beach lifesavers of an emergency.

But Ms Grigg, who was involved in the rescue of a Brisbane man caught in a rip last Sunday, said the phone beacon at the south end of the beach was unreliable.

Last Sunday, she grabbed a mobile phone and ran about 300 metres up a rocky track to the top of the cliff where there is phone reception and phoned triple-0 and told the police to call the lifesavers.

The man survived, but Ms Grigg said the system had failed in each of the three rescues she had been involved in this year.

Byron Mills of Surf Life Saving Queensland, which installed the emergency beacon system, denied there was any problem. "It has saved 15 to 18 lives in the past 12 months," he said.

Sunshine Beach Surf Life Saving president Warick Redwood said he had heard there were problems, but the beacon had always worked when he tried it.

A nude beach is also being considered at Mudjimba, Stumers Creek and Third Bay.

Free Beaches prefers Mudjimba over Alexandria Bay - the council's likely pick - because it has good access and fewer safety concerns.

But councillor Debbie Blumel tabled a petition with 441 signatures against Mudjimba, saying it was a "family beach".

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