Thursday, April 24, 2008


13 Dec 2006

What can I say about Australia, the almighty land down under? Well first and foremost, let me mention the quality that initially struck me - the heat. From what I've gathered, in my early summer month spent almost entirely on the Gold Coast, there is very little use for a hoody here. Especially for someone raised in the cold, such as myself. I've had to recycle the 3 or 4, maybe 5 pairs of shorts I brought with me because pants are about as practical as high heels in a rugby match. The summer-themed surfshops littered around every nook and cranny of the CBD are testament to the areas climate, regardless of their money making agenda. And, according to the locals, this is very cool compared to this exact time last year. A few of the more sun-worshipping might even go so far as to call the current weather 'cold', a call my body could never agree with. There have been a few days where I found it difficult to function normally because of the temperature. My forehead breaks into a panic-ing sweat just imagining how I would cope in one these 'heatwaves' the native Gold Coasters speak of with such reverance. On one of the few rainy/overcast nights here, I found myself and Feeble outside in the rain reminiscing about our home town of Rotorua, jokingly refering to the cold conditions as the 'feel of home'.

Surfers Paradise. Surfers Paradise has an interesting dynamic to say the least. It is Australia's traditional holiday spot, the place to where your bright orange hawaiian shirt, the town where aussies from all over let their hair down in merry abandon. One minor pet peeve I picked up on is the name. A more fitting label would be 'Perverts Paradise', as the surf is disappointing at the best of times and there is eye-candy for all, whatever your tastes may be. Surfers Paradise, with all its skyscraping high-risers, fashionable beaches, many picturesque waterways, loud shirts, pretty sunglasses, bikinis, shopping malls and clean-enough-to-eat-off streets, reminds me very much of the projected image of Vice City in the Grand Theft Auto videogame series. I imagine this is how Miami would feel.

The local culture is a strong consumer one, except with the emphasis shifted from material happiness to social exceptence and an overall goal of collective fun, whatever one may deem that to be. Being the holiday spot is no well kept secret either, infact, it seems to be embedded into the Australian psyche that this is the place to cut loose. For 2 weeks this is the Schoolies' stomping ground which is immediately followed by the erection of the nearly 3 storey high Christmas Tree and other festive decorations over Cavill mall. Right now, it is host to a cycling event, and Im sure there are many more exciting events on the horizon. This place goes off.

There is a (what Im assuming to be) homeless man who makes the streets and malls of Surfers Paradise his residence. He is famous for wearing a bikini that would be 10 sizes too small even if he were a woman. And even though he shares the same iconic status as Wellingtons now-internet-famous vagrant 'Blanket Man', he enjoys about half the respect and humility of his Kiwi counterpart. They bully him here, just as the class of troubled school children would do to the unfortunate kid with six fingers on one hand, if they were all left unattended. I can only imagine how it feels to be looked so far down on, how it would feel for your days only verbal contact with other humans to be on the recieving end of names like "freak", "weirdo" and "faggot". Quite frankly, I would probably lose it too. Perhaps this is a reflection of the average Mr & Mrs Aussie's hollow nature? Perhaps ...I dont know. What I do know is that the group mentality here is strong, and not being excepted has an equally as strong impact.

The people of Surfers Paradise are the very blood that keeps this beast alive. Their wallets are the nutrients that provide nourishment for the seemingly endless growth. I estimate that about half (give or take 10%) of the people here are also out-of-towners, most of those not Australian. At times it seems that half of New Zealands population have made the trip across the ditch, I pretty sure I see less Maori in Wellington. As with anywhere in the modern western world, the asian comunity's presence is too large to be ignored. The only ethnic community that I had not previously encountered, and furthermore not even realised existed so prominently, are the people known by outsiders' (and an increasing number of insiders') slurs as "wogs". The youthful males are known to roll 10 or 11 deep and have a reputation for being obnoxious and arrogant trouble makers. Greasy slick hair, sharply dressed and an unuusually (perhaps unwarranted?) cocky swagger are the typical traits of the 20 year old male 'wog'. As expected, the Aboriginies are Australia's dust swept under the rug, despite the every souvenir shop whoring off their native culture with cheap and mass produced didgereedoo's, boomerangs and other 'arts and crafts'. I wouldnt be surprised to find a 'Made in China' sticker on half of that merchandise. But the Aboriginies have well and truly been culture raped, moreso than the native americans, and this is evident upon sight of their current generaton. Abo's - Aussies secret shame.

But regardless of how diverse and multicultural the ethnic make-up of this place is, Australia maintains her white face. Most people that fill the street are of European descent, and are most definitely caucasian at heart. Keeping up appearences seems to be at the top of the priority list, as it is screamingly obvious that much effort is put into looking good. I have grown to despise the currently fashionable females sunglasses, for one reason: while they certainly do their job in making the wearer look pretty, this is exactly the problem. Everybody looks good. Whoopi Goldberg is on the same playing field as Jessica Alba, survival of the fittest looks to be on the way out. I bet Charles Darwin is turning in his grave.

Aside from that minor bone to pick, the quality of the girls here is unlike anything I have ever seen. Let me just re-state my case for changing the name to 'Perverts Paradise'. The girls are impecably dressed and all know what looks good on them. But this is no case of wolves-in-sheeps-clothing, as a trip to the packed out beach anyday of the week will prove. This is the stuff that inspires Hip Hop music videos, nude portraits and rapists. Aesthetic beauty and physical attraction aside, the girls really are a dfferent breed here. Right down to the way they think they are fundamentally different from myself, and this has been the obstacle which has kept most of them fro making a home in my hands. No love loss though, as I still consider being in their presence a victory, even if I did mostly win from the sideline. I wish I had more time to pick all this lovely fruit, and enjoy a sweet wine or two. Next time. No regrets though, as I found that my time here was more about my boys, not other girls, and im more than happy with the quality time we spent.

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