See and tell across the land
Welcome to a bumper edition of T&I and our celebration of all things local and lovely. Australian tourism has been boosted this summer by the so-called wave season during which a record number of cruise ships visited our shores. Thanks to MONA, and clever tourism marketing and advertising, Tasmania, too, is hip and happening, or “hippening”, as I read recently, and now I can’t “unsee” that silly made-up word and want to be “seesick”.
I am not sick of seeing Australia, however, and the more locally authentic and accessible the better. Take craft markets, which are sprouting in parishes across all states. The best celebrate the handmade and the artisan, and in most cases, that latter description is actually meaningful, unlike the “artisan shampoo” sold in discount supermarkets in containers so huge they must be visible from Mars.
On the NSW central coast, we have a pool of remarkable artistic talent and I am sure this is true of other holiday places. Over Easter this year, beach markets will be all the go, with handmade pottery, fashion, comestibles and art on display. Even if you just go along and buy a soy candle, it will be made in the likes of Woy Woy and not China. Forget cringe and fringe. Neighbourhoods are centre stage and proud of it.
My childhood holidays seemed unremarkable and provincial at the time. It was always Brighton back in England and then, in teen years, the GC, which was the Gold Coast before the marketers got hold of it. I told my parents they were boring and then, as they watched, drilled my cheek with my index finger for added effect, which I thought was the height of sophistication. But there was security in routine and we knew what to look forward to and how to pack and, importantly, who to avoid, as we stayed at the same motel in Coolangatta, as did the other regular summer people, and Mother always said you had to know who was worth chatting to because life was too short to be “bored to shreds” (cue further cheek drilling).
“There’s no holiday in cooking,” she would declare, quite rightly, so we never rented anywhere with kitchen facilities and I haven’t forgotten those wise words. Breakfast would arrive on a tray, shoved through a hatch into our room by a motel waitress wearing a pink pinny and a white head-dress that looked like a cloth tiara. I longed for her to set the tray sailing like a Frisbee towards the chenille-clad beds. I would eat bare toast so I could save the jam sachets and then line them up at home on a shelf in my bedroom, until the ants would inevitably arrive. Dad was enthusiastic about breakfast and would pat his stomach with some smugness around lunchtime and say he was still full but it never worked as Mother and I would make him fork out for fish and chips and milkshakes. We were helping the local economy, after all.
Australians are good at getting away and we take breaks of all kinds in short spurts, and hop on planes as easily as once we did trains and coaches. Repeating is still frowned upon but not when it comes to seasonal and costumed activities. How many sleeps til the ski season, I wonder.