We might not have Bali’s hawkers, beach clubs, open charcoal grills or surf. We do, however, have endless summers and starry nights.
RLOCKOUTS, FACE SCANNERS AND CLUSTERS OF POLICE WAITING TO POUNCE MAKES ANYONE BRAVING THE FLINDERS STREET STRIP FEEL LIKE AN EXTRA FROM THE PRISON DRAMA WENTWORTH
EMEMBER the old Redgum song I’ve Been To Bali Too? Heading to the Indonesian island has long been an Aussie rite of passage.
For many tourists the novelty of getting around in togs, thongs and a sarong on a scooter, sipping oversized underpriced cocktails, stocking up on designer knockoffs and turning a nut shade of brown in an exotic tropical climate is what has drawn visitors to this idyllic island since surfers first visited in the late 1960s.
My folks took my sister and I there for a holiday in 1978 when there were no cars, no sealed roads and not many Aussies, but it kicked off a love affair that has endured over the decades.
I haven’t been lately but planned to, although whether in response to calls for a Qantas boycott by our Mayor or not, from next March the axe is falling on our el cheapo airfares ending our easy and affordable access to this island resort.
It’s easy to understand why tourists from southern states head to Bali, there’s the weather for one thing. For those of us lucky enough to already live in a tropical paradise, however, what exactly is it that Bali offers that we can’t or don’t get at home?
Indonesia is largely a Muslim nation, but catering to our requirements as Bali’s largest tourist market is a measure of Indonesia’s reliance on our business, yet as a tourist destination our alcohol laws must seem strangely puritanical.
Large numbers of Aussies appear to be perfectly capable of safely drinking and partying in large numbers when in Bali, so why are punters treated as quasicriminals while at home?
With all that cash flying out of the city, wouldn’t it make sense to create an atmosphere where people would be happy to spend it?
Lockouts, face scanners and clusters of police waiting to pounce makes anyone braving the Flinders Street strip feel like an extra from the prison drama Wentworth.
This heavy- handed approach has seen numbers dwindling at the remaining city clubs and locals saving their dollars for more easygoing destinations.
But with venues limited to Flinders and Palmer streets, could authorities dare to take a different approach?
Take the main party streets of Charleston, New Orleans and Las Vegas, you can get your alcoholic beverage served in a plastic “Gocup” and take it with you from venue to venue.
Could you imagine that happening here?
We still can’t drink alcohol at a barbecue on The Strand while the itinerants the laws were created for continue to drink in public.
Why not police being intoxicated in a public place and let responsible drinkers and our city move into the 21st century?
Until we do, we’ll see more people drinking at home, holidaying overseas and our city heart ill- equipped to handle the pre and post- stadium crowds looking to add to their experience.
We might not have Bali’s hawkers, beach clubs, open charcoal grills or surf.
We do, however, have endless summers and starry nights.
What’s more, with the underwater museum set to be an international drawcard, perhaps if we loosened up a little we could become more of a destination and less of a departure point.