Thinking of organising a picnic at one of Sydney's eastern suburbs beaches? If it is in Bondi, Bronte or Tamarama, be careful about using Facebook or Twitter to invite your guests because you could incur the wrath of the local council and a $220 fine.
Waverley Council has adopted an events policy that requires any event publicised on social media to have a permit - regardless of the number of guests - so even a big family get-together circulated through Facebook could run foul of the council.
When Fairfax Media visited Bondi, people using Facebook to plan events were unaware of the policy, which also applies to beach barbecues and picnics at Bondi and Bronte.
Sarah Heath and her friends, who organised their picnic at Bondi Beach last week using Facebook, had no idea they could be on the wrong side of the law.
Greens MP David Shoebridge, who was reprimanded by the council for holding an event without a permit, said the council did not seem to understand that, in the modern era, most people organised their lives via social media.
A spokesman said the council would use ''commonsense'' and that picnics or gatherings with fewer than 50 guests would not need a permit. However, that was not Mr Shoebridge's experience. He said 12 people were attending the launch of the Beach Saver campaign at Bondi Beach when they were approached by council officials who said the group had to leave.
''When I pointed out it was a public beach, and we were having a very low-key gathering with a dozen people and the local press to discuss the threat to the beach, it didn't change council's position,'' he said.
He said rangers arrived, warned him not to hand out flyers, told him to leave the beach and said that, if the group did not move on, the police would be called.
A council spokesman said in the Greens' case it was considered an event because it was ''publicised to thousands of people on social media and had the potential to attract a much higher attendance''.
''Rangers can approach the organiser of the activity as it's happening and ask if they made a booking and therefore have a permit,'' the spokesman said. ''If they do not have a permit, they can be asked to vacate the site. If they decline to vacate the site, rangers have the discretion to issue a $220 fine.''
The spokesman said the council wanted to make sure there were not too many events happening at once, the events did not pose a health or safety risk and that any traffic management and policing requirements were in place.