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I love a sunburnt beach town,
A land of beaching whales,
Of well dressed mums at pick up,
Of mokes and barefoot pain,
I love her star-filled houses,
I love her feeling free,
Her terror in her beauty,
The warm peach sand for me!

(Apologies to Dorothea Mackellar for butchering her fine poem, My Country).

Ah yes, my home town. A place of contrasts. Where multi millionaires mix it with the tradies, who mix with the inheritance set who mix it with the ‘been-here-for-50-years’ people. As time marches by, the trendy people make up more and more of the population. Which is fine but I have been noticing a worrying habit amongst those trendsetters. I will call it, The Philosophy of Denial.

It’s like this: nothing bad happens here, nothing ever will and it is a golden town locked in a bubble of glorious rainbows. I am a bit of a stickler for rules and safety but in my lovely town such thinking is passe. I feel a little bit old fashioned in my thinking (which I am hoping will create a new fashion!)

Yesterday, my son’s school received a letter from someone observing the school kids from a cafe. He was so happy to see that all the kiddies were wearing helmets! He said he has worked in emergency medicine for 20 years and has seen some terrible head injuries from people not donning the old stack hat. Go kids! But then you see the teens, the adults, the parents riding their bikes willy-nilly, hair flying free in the breeze, sun on their face without a care in the world and without a helmet. Bah-bow.

How can primary age kids be so vigilant about bike safety and the parents not give two hoots? Denial. I was talking to my kids about this phenomenon and my daughter said, “I’ll never fall off my bike onto my head”. Hopefully not but helmets are there just in case, like seatbelts. Serious car accidents are thankfully rare around here too but people still wear seatbelts! Huh. Whaddya think?

We live in a spoilt area. Great food, views, community, money (mostly), health, schools and facilities. But it is like we take it all for granted. Like nothing will destroy our piece of paradise. I hope it doesn’t take a huge disaster to burst our bubble. So, northern beachers, safety first, right? Safety first!

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Image by DeFacto

One of the great pleasures of summer holidays was visiting my grandparents at Brunswick Heads with the cousins. I reckon we only saw our beloved cousins once or twice a year so it was always a thrill to have some solid playtime with them. We would rock up, squeal, hug them and track down our favourite toys.

Then we’d head to the beach, towel swung over shoulder, together as a mob. Sometimes when it was just my brother and I, we would be treated to a ride to the beach in my grandfather’s little yellow (?) moke. This is the original beach mobile. It always felt a little wild, zooming down the cruisy streets of Brunswick, tongues flapping in the wind. We would have to hang on tight to whatever beach toy we’d brought and hope that no other ‘proper’ car would bash into us. Finally we’d arrive, hair matted in the salty air. But we didn’t care.

Sometimes it was hard work visiting the grandparents. They were kinda strict on clean rooms and table manners and made us watch opera on tv with massive earphones straddling our head. But a ride in the moke and a trip to the beach made it all worthwhile.

Fast-forward twenty or so years and here I am. Back in a seaside town. Though it is a lot more upmarket than downtown Brunswick Heads. But, to my surprise, mokes are making a comeback. Though we are a safety conscious generation, the mighty moke is back and back with a vengeance. People have done away with their Audis and BMWs and embraced this humble little vehicle. Awww, I just want to give it a hug, cutie patootie. I’m not sure if I would take my kids down to the beach in one but if it was good enough for mini me, why not?

Did you have a moke in the 80s? Would you buy one today?

When you watched the tear jerking movie Pay it forward, did you? Pay. It. Forward?

I love the idea, I think we all did. It’s a thought that inspires but does it result in change and true generosity? I think of all the amazing things put out on council cleanups across Australia and I think, could they have put this stuff to better use? What about the Salvos, they pick up you know! (There are TVs, trampolines, toys, bikes, beds, drawers, stools, lounges etc etc etc…!!!)

Recycling isn’t just about the environment, but about sharing all we have with each other. It’s about building true community. This week one of my son’s friends gave my daughter a Wiggles DVD. She could have just let it gather dust or sold it on Ebay but she, at five years old, decided to give it to the little sister of a friend. It’s amazing how generous our kids can be.

I’m a part of a group called ‘Freecycle;’. This is a fantastic online community that gives offers up possessions when they are no longer needed. They also put out requests, so if you need baby clothes, a lounge, a tv or anything really, you just put it out there. What could be easier? It is a simple way of recycling and I guess generosity too. Loads of people have at least one thing hanging around that they don’t want or need anymore and as they say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And so we freecycle, for free, you see. (Simply google freecycle to find a group in your area).

Paying it forward is all about generosity. It’s not about getting everything you want. It is simply one human being helping another and it feels GOOD!

I feel like my life is stalking me. It seems every few days, I run into someone I haven’t seen in years. Strangely, they have been popping back into my life recently.

Gotcha!

Yesterday, it was two people. One, who is my friend’s best friend, is in the same swimming class as my daughter and the other is a friend of a friend who I haven’t seen for ten years.

Then, there is the lady who I went to school with in Newcastle, twenty odd years ago. She now lives around the corner from me. She has one child in kindergarten with my little man and the other, a daughter called Halle, same as me.

And then there is the guy who I grew up with twenty-five years ago in Lismore. He has moved to my town with his family. He lives up the hill from me and for a time, our boys were friends. Our parents also grew up together.

I feel the net closing in as my life flashes before my eyes. There’s a Wollongong connection, Lismore, Newcastle, Sydney-siders floating by. The old and the new are mixing and becoming a new present. I’m standing confused, like a scene in a movie where everyone else is moving and the protagonist is standing stock still. The camera does a ‘rotate and enhance’, my eyes stare straight ahead. It is mesmerizing.

I feel like there should be a divine meaning in all of this. But, really, I just think, who wouldn’t want to live here? Paradise, some might say. Life is a fascinating ride. It truly is “the circle of life”.

Hakuna Matata

Avalon CBD

According to true locals, the face of Avalon has changed dramatically over the past ten years. For them, it has become more ‘Palm Beach’. The trendies from the Eastern suburbs have invaded and brought with them their love of good coffee and designer everything. In the past, Avalon was hippy central, long hair and bare feet were the order of the day. Now, you feel uncomfortable walking down the street in Kmart trackies and cheapo shoes.

That’s the down side. The up side is that Avalon has good food, good coffee, interesting shops and even more fascinating people. It’s a people stew; a little bit of tradie, a pinch of lower middle class, a cup of two income families, tourists, singles, weekenders, filthy richers and celebrities. It is a dynamic town, a unique place, almost an island joined to the mainland by the famous bends.

There is always something happening. You have the Avalon RSL which is a popular venue for mothers groups in the day and everyone else in the night. The library is awesome, modern and has a great range of books. The supermarket is a bit ‘how’s your father’ with narrow aisles and limited range. There are delis, organic fruit shops (of course), bakeries by the dozen (almost), chicken shops, pizzerias (Go Luckies!!!) and even a cinema.

Parks, beaches, mansions and great weather. Oh Avalon, you spoil us. But like any town in Australia, we too have our delinquents. Oh drunken teenagers, go home and read a book! These are particularly interesting because the majority of them are richy, spoilt kids who are bored… BORED!?!? Oh dear me! Find a cave, tell ghost stories, rent a movie, hang out on a verandah in the balmy seaside air. I have little patience for these Avalonians.

On the whole, my CBD caters for all types. Whether you want a quick pie and Coke, a full on five star meal, or a movie. It is really an fascinating place to see, so drop by sometime.

Driving the same old road can be a little dull. Over the past twelve years I have seen hundreds of signs nailed around the ‘billy’ bends. They are snippets of life. They are tearful farewells, excited “Hello”s, stupid ‘bag-outs’, or strange clues that only the ‘in’ crowd would really get.

I have always though it should be documented. It is a fascinating glimpse into our local life. A brave and time rich person has done just that. It is fun to guess what people are trying to say to each other. For example, this week there has been something like “Nanna and Pop, the kids will miss you”. Meaning we won’t though or the kids really like their grandparents.

For those living past those infamous bends, it is always good to know that you will always be entertained either heading out of town or back home.

see roundthebends.com for updates on our beloved signs!

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