image by T. Meyer

Isn’t summer the bomb? Blue skies, piercing yellow sunshine, crystal clear water… crowds. Yes, the influx of the Eastern Suburbs city dwellers combined with the westies (with all due respect) and the international bunch makes my home town a buzzy, busy place over the Christmas break.

There are those who own houses on the peninsular – those richy richies who cannot bear the 40 minute trip from the city for an awesome beach experience and so they buy a beach cottage/ mansion to come to in the summer months. For the rest of the year, the poor old place lies dormant, alone, gathering dust (that is until the gardener and the cleaner gets in there and cleans it up, for appearances only, mind you). When the summer months arrive these sad old mansions get all excited  because their beloved owner is coming back to love them, if only for a few weeks.

Tourist 2 is the Westie. These are the true tourism champions. They wake up early, pack their inflatable boats and all-day picnics, then they crawl through the hideous Sydney traffic until they reach paradise. Here they unpack and spread out their tents, watersport equipment and then… the BOOMBOX. Tourist number 2 loves the music. They love the noise. For some reason they cannot stand to listen to the quiet lapping of the waves on the shore or the raucous crickets chanting in the bush. They need their beats and they are so kind as to share it with the rest of the world at the beach. Not sure I understand it, but ok.

Our final tourist category is the best. It’s the foreign tourist; American, French, German, English, Scandinavian, Indian. They hear that summer arrives at Christmas time, so they hitch a plane and skedaddle across the seven seas to bask in the paradise that is Sydney. They bring their smoke, their weird beachy habits (camping chairs perched in the shallows of the sea) and their blasting accents. Their steps are unsure and stilted and they seem to tower over the rest of us. It is always fun to see your home town through the eyes of an international tourist.

As we wade through the New Years Day crowds and our roads turn into parking lots, I can feel a little smug and a tiny bit annoyed at the invasion of so many in our otherwise quiet town. On New Years Day we tiptoed to our favourite ‘happy’ spot away from the thick crowds and impossible parking spots. We set up our picnic, breathed deeply, relaxed, chased some soldier crabs and then… oh no, we were discovered by … TOURISTS. How did they know about our secret spot? They plopped their picnic right behind us, popped on the boombox, started yell-talking at each other and began to slowly inflate their boats and floaty toys.

In the end I knew I had to be gracious and enjoy the spirit of the day. And, I reminded myself, I can come back to this ‘happy’ spot whenever I like. At the end of the day, the tourists go home, but I get to live here. So, I tuck away my smugness and dig out my humility, mix it with a glob of gratefulness and enjoy the buzz of Sydney in the summertime.