TWO sheepish Victorian tourists presented themselves to Byron Bay police station yesterday afternoon ending a day of high drama after it was feared the pair had drowned near Belongil Beach.
Emergency services scoured the water and dunes near Belongil Beach after the alarm was raised in the morning by a woman who discovered two sets of abandoned clothing, footwear and wallets at the high tide mark on Belongil Beach.
Police co-ordinated the search which included the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter and lifeguards.
However, despite the display of might in the air and on sea the pair were not found – which was understandable as they were safely tucked away in bed.
Byron Bay Police duty officer, Sergeant Doug Connors, described the antics of the pair as foolish.
“In the early hours of the morning the two men went skinny dipping,” he said.
“They were swept down the beach but did not realise. When they got out they assumed it (their belongings) had been stolen.
“They had been drinking.
“It (the search) cost thousands of dollars.
“It is entirely foolish to go swimming when you have been drinking.”
While the search was conducted, between 7.30am and 11.30am, Byron’s Main Beach was closed as the single lifeguard on duty assisted with the search.
Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator, Scott McCartney, said Main Beach was reopened as soon as the rescue search was halted.
“I’ve had this situation many times before, where towels and clothes are found on the beach and the people turn up safe and sound,” he said.
Emergency services took the search seriously, especially after the horror month the Northern Rivers has experienced with drownings.
On Boxing Day, a 54-year-old Brisbane man died while swimming at Lighthouse Beach with his 16-year-old son.
On January 19, Sydney couple Joe and Carole Sherry died after getting into trouble at South Ballina Beach.
And only last Wednesday, Ballina man Kevin Richards, 74, drowned while trying to cross a flooded causeway near Ellangowan in a Toyota Hilux ute.
His body was found on Thursday morning.