Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Seasonal Jeer

The official Australian summer holidays have yet to begin, but it's already tourist season here on Barrenjoey Peninsula. BMWs, Mercedes, Porsches, and even the odd Bentley jam the narrow stretch of coastal road known to locals as 'the bends'. The beachside population has increased steadily for about a month, but in another couple of weeks, it will explode. 'Outsiders' will swarm the cafés, squabble over parking spots, and stand in the middle of the sidewalks having loud conversations on their mobile phones: assets and real estate are popular topics.
The whole area loses its cool, laidback air.
Some of the outsiders own holiday homes here. Others (including most of the Australian media moguls and movies stars you've ever heard of, along with their Hollywood celebrity pals) rent them for tens of thousands of dollars a week. The locals surf at dawn to avoid the crowds, or head north – far north, to Indonesia or Hawaii – to better, northern winter waves. At night, I hear people having drinks on their verandahs, glasses clinking; someone is always asking where the lighter is for the barbie.
My assistant goes to the village to shop for me. I can't deal with it. In the mornings, she brings coffee. From now until the end of January, the queue for take-aways
at my favorite café runs out the door and it take ten minutes, minimum, to be served. If I have to shop for food myself, I go to a supermarket five miles away, late at night, when there are fewer people around. Unfortunately, for the next couple of months, nowhere is really quiet.
You can spot the outsiders at a glance They look, dress and even move differently to the locals. They're so tightly wrapped they make me look relaxed.
Their skin's pasty or dyed orange with spray-on tan. Most sport nautically themed resort-wear. White pants are popular, as are navy and white striped matelot tops, leather slip-on yachting shoes, wide-brimmed straw hats and high-heeled espadrilles. Middle-aged party women over-do the rich and glamorous look. They shop for groceries in full make-up and stilettos. It impresses no-one. A lot of locals around here are rich – or, at least, reasonably well-off – and natural beauty is common.
Still I wonder, why is that when people want to be somewhere different, even be someone different, they do everything the same way they always do?
Whatever. I just can't wait until the season's over.


sue beyer said...

We lived in the inner west of Sydney for 10 years (from Brisbane) and we couldn't get over how people would ask in the first 10 minutes of conversation, where you lived, how much you paid for it and how much you earn.

We moved back to Brisbane 2 years ago. Best thing we ever did. Nobody gives a shit up here, except for the people who have moved to Brisbane from Sydney :-)

You're lucky you have an assistant to deal with those people :-)

Cookster said...

Wow, that sounds like Perth ALL the time. It's a state where mining cranks the wheels of commerce and real estate prices rival New York (well, sorta!). Everything is hard and shiny, like something quite lovely lost under layers of laquer. The time is nigh to escape to Rottnest Island, breathe a mixture of pine and salty sea breeze, soak in the Indian Ocean and get back to just being/

Jules Faber said...

I lived in Port Douglas for two years and I'd never seen anything like it - the ultra-rich and the famous walking past regular people in the street. No one fawns, no one gushes, they're just one more person enjoying the beautiful region and dropping off tons of cash.
And then there are those you describe, Hazel. Those made-up women in pristine white - like their clothes had never been worn before and probably never would again; their men, moustachioed and wearing whatever she picked out for him with his credit card.

There were some awesome folks though who cared nothing for their own celebrity - I can remember Woody Harrelson turning up to a bonfire party with a friend and hanging out with regular folks til dawn during shooting of The Thin Red Line. He'd heard about the party in one of Port Douglas' small video stores.

That's what's impressive to me. Not wealth, not commodity, just honesty.

Anonymous said...

mayb you should not be so harsh and judgemental on people..... iv'e lived in a tourist town my whole life and mayb if you took the time to go and buy your own food (you sound just like the 'yuppies' you are always moaning about) and take the time to have a conversation... that is if your assistant doesnt do it for you.. yeah there are alot of rich people, annoying tourist etc but at the end of the day you don't know where people come from there background or anything..... learn to love a bit more the world is everyones!!

Anonymous said...

whats d point of having a blog if you control what people write.......... so you only publish nice things people say about you.guess n thats y the ego's so big!!!