See and tell across the land

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

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.

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