The roar and din of sum­mer

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Australia - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

I HADater­rif­i­cally good sum­mer break at home (thank you for ask­ing) and now I can take off mynoise­can­celling head­phones, which are as big as din­ner plates.

The fes­tive sea­son is a tremen­dously loud time. It seems to be all the rage to shout be­cause it’s im­pos­si­ble to be heard above honk­ing pub­lic an­nounce­ments at malls, wail­ing ban­shee mu­sic at shops (sur­fwear stores are the worst of­fend­ers; their staff seem to be able to read lips, how­ever, which is handy) and blar­ing cin­ema ads that all but send your 3-Dglasses fly­ing.

Pro­pri­etors of restau­rants, cafes and bars be­lieve con­cert-vol­ume mu­sic is an es­sen­tial part of the at­mos­phere. So if you have met your friends with a view to con­ver­sa­tion, then for­get it — you mayas well just text them across the ta­ble. On­the train be­tween the city and our beach shack, the vol­ume of iPods was turned up to such a max­that a tinny whine is­sued from al­most ev­ery­one’s ears, like a congress of ci­cadas. If I asked a ques­tion, th­ese pas­sen­gers looked at me, a live and speak­ing per­son, in stunned amaze­ment, then turned back to their elec­tronic de­vices, em­bar­rassed to have been ap­proached by a roam­ing lu­natic.

I es­caped all this hideous man­u­fac­tured noise, even­tu­ally, in the surf and on the sand, where com­fort­ing hol­i­day sounds were still all the go. Kids, bright-eyed and beach-ready, whooped and rushed into the water while seagulls cir­cled and mewed­like kit­tens. Hardy lit­tle dogs barked with de­light as sticks were thrown for them to fetch and waves rushed across their paws. Tod­dlers squealed as their par­ents has­tened them into the sea for lessons in the art of pad­dling. Some­one even had a crack­ling tran­sis­tor (imag­ine such an­tiq­uity), lis­ten­ing to the cricket. Such a blast from the past.

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