A wooden sign warning against visitors erected at a popular NSW south coast beach has sparked vocal backlash from locals and politicians.
The sign, which read: “Locals Only: Blow-ins Not Welcome!” was spotted at Sandon Point beach, in Bulli – a suburb in Wollongong, about an hour and 15 minutes south of Sydney.
The beach is famed among local surfers for its consistent breaks year-round.
The derogatory term “blow ins” refers to surfers who travel in from other areas.
Later in the day it had been scribbled out to only read: “Welcome!”.
The offensive message prompted NSW Health Minister Ryan Park, who is also the local MP for Illawarra and the South Coast, to denounce the message on his Facebook page.
“This needs to be called out,” he wrote.
“It’s wrong and it doesn’t at all reflect our community. We are better than this Illawarra. The only thing not welcome is this sort of behaviour.”
Labor councillor Richard Martin said he was “surprised” by the anti-social behaviour of his community.
He said beaches on the Illawarra had become more popular during the Covid lockdowns and that travellers were important to the local economy.
“It was a nice quiet little place and now we’re exposed to a lot more people. Visitors are very important to our community, they spend a lot of money,” he said.
“I would have thought our community would be inviting for everyone, as long as they obey the rules of the sea. I was surprised and disappointed the sign was placed, because we should be embracing our visitors.”
Greens councillor Mithra Cox said the sign was “disgusting,” and said the context of the sign wasn’t immediately obvious.
“You can take it how you want to take it because that’s all written on the site and it’s not going to make any visitors feel welcome,” said Ms Cox.
She recalled seeing similar signs at other beaches in the Illawarra that were placed when loosened Covid restrictions allowed interstate travel.
“Not everybody has the privlidge of being born into a $2m beachfront home and the beach is a public space. Nobody owns the public space and has the right to tell other people they can’t be there.
“I thought it was hugely damaging to the reputation of the community, which has always been a welcoming place.”