Christmas Day has been marred by out-of-control beach parties in Melbourne and Sydney, with cleanup bills to run into the thousands.
An estimated 5000 people partied at Melbourne’s St Kilda beach on Monday afternoon and continued drinking past the local council’s 8pm alcohol ban, strewing litter in all directions.
The event descended into chaos, with two people arrested for public drunkenness and assault, a 27-year-old man struck by a tram, and a 27-year-old woman taken to hospital with alcohol poisoning and several injured by broken glass.
Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss said it was disgraceful behaviour by mostly backpackers and international tourists.
“People were taking trolley loads of alcohol from the local bottle shops and wheeling them on to the beach … our council is deeply upset and disappointed,” she told 3AW radio.
The council did not impose a drinking ban on Christmas Day because it did not think one was necessary, she said.
“But we didn’t really expect the extent of the backpackers and the international visitors, there were a lot of British accents,” she said.
“People drink too much and that’s a recipe for disaster.”
An “appalling” amount of rubbish was left behind on the beach, Victoria Police inspector Jason Kelly said.
“What really disappoints Victoria Police is the level of intoxication that occurred here tonight as evidenced by the level of rubbish left behind,” Inspector Kelly said in a beachside interview on Christmas night.
Meanwhile, on a beach in the Sydney suburb of Little Bay, police pepper sprayed revellers at another boozy, unauthorised beach party.
Police were called to Little Bay, south of Maroubra, on Monday afternoon after reports of the large backpacker gathering and arrived to find approximately 3000 people drinking, singing and dancing.
As the crowd was moved on, two women were arrested. They have since been charged with assaulting police, with officers alleging they were hit with bottles.
Footage of the aftermath of the party shows officers attempting to disperse the gathering.
One video posted on Facebook shows at least four women being pushed to the ground, including two who landed on the road, as officers doused others with pepper spray.
Ol' mate in the panda head, flinging around his goon bag, who flips the bird to the cops as they approach the Little Bay beach party gets a special mention in my yarn. pic.twitter.com/DxfgDx4oOR
— Jamie McKinnell (@jamie86) December 25, 2017
Stephen Minshaw, who was injured, said police were hitting people with batons as they tried to leave.
“I don’t get why the police needed to use force,” he told the Seven Network.
“We’re backpackers, we’re not going to … fight back against them.”
He denied the party had gotten out of hand.
Other social media users responded to the footage by labelling the police response as “unnecessarily violent”, “ridiculous” and going “way too far”.
A police spokeswoman said she wasn’t able to comment on the videos or police tactics.
Two women aged 23 and 25 were charged with assaulting a police officer, while the younger was also charged with causing actual bodily harm.
They are expected before Waverley Local Court on January 31.
– with agencies