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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

on the move: torquay time

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

on the move: torquay time

Andrew Ryan

I’ve spent the last few days in Torquay, a coastal town 21km south of Geelong, full on surfer territory, stop number one along the Great Ocean Road.

I’ve been meaning to visit my friend out here for months, and after being back in Melbourne for a week, I started to feel the movement-itch again. I figured beach time would be nice, getting out of city thing would be nice, a change of scenery while my favourite fella is off playing musicband in the USA would be nice, it’s a nice place, my friend is nice, let’s do nice, let me test the waters and see if this could be a nice place to hangout and do some writing and video work over the coming summer months or something…

But mostly I wanted to swim in the ocean heaps. That was my main thing, and I have my bikini but I have not donned it- the temperature has been warm enough to swim during the day more often than not, but this fucking wind, man! This fucking wind is insane. I have had a little sit by the beach only once, eating a lukewarm pie from the local bakery and watching family groups do family things in the sand- I craved being immersed in that beautiful water, ached for it, but it was almost too windy for sitting on the wall and reading, and I figured I would be better off without the inevitable sickness I would acquire from belting belted with arctic wind as I emerge from the briny waves.

So instead of hanging by the ocean, I have been reading a lot, making a music video for Emlyn Johnson, playing chess until my brain hurts, and thinking about this town of less than 10,000 people.

There’s a coffee shop here that I like called Ridestylz. It’s not strictly a coffee shop: it’s a cafe/surfboard maker/surf-wear retailer, which makes total sense in a town like this. I like these mashup stores, seems like a good idea in today’s economy and whatnot. They have a booze licence too, and you used to be able to purchase beers through the front window and then take them to the seating area on the footpath to drink and chat and have cool-feeling times with the beach soooorrrrt of in view down the road… but then the council didn’t like it so that part of the licence was taken away. Which is a bummer, because something like that makes people feel good. Freedoms, you know? More stuff like that and maybe there wouldn’t be such a growing meth problem in the area…

Ridestylz is across the road from the caravan park. Sitting there earlier today, I was enjoying the sun, drinking my double espresso, thinking about how lovely it would be to live in that caravan park, living off the fish I catch myself, cooked with rice and veggies from the weekend local growers market, maybe a bit of dumpster diving to give my diet a little variety. A pretty idyllic lifestyle to be sure, the thought of which got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could do a little stint of living out here. But living in a tourist town would be hard work during peak tourist season. Schoolies week would be pretty hilarious/gross too. And besides, you need a car to live out here comfortable, and I don’t have a car, or a licence to drive one.

Apparently the roads get so clogged in summer that at least one person a year dies as a result of traffic fuck ups.

It’s taken until this year for the local council to start working on putting in footpaths on the streets surrounding the town centre. The walk ways are like a goat track, beaten in to the ground along fences and underneath trees by local kids on bikes and residents who choose not to drive their cars everywhere. They’re not very kind paths for prams or for wheelchairs. I learnt this from the local newspaper, which also informed me of the creation of a new shopping hub in the next few years, and the creation of a new “children’s hub” in the next few years, as well as a charity drive to collect un-used bras from local ladies with view to send them to women who need them in Bali. Around stories like this there were far too many advertisements for big beautiful homes and properties On The Market, Ready To Buy! to count.

Tourists though, so many tourists in the summer. The grey nomads have already started to drive a portion of their nest eggs through the town, stopping by this little slice of paradise to tick the boxes on their list of fave retirement hangouts- they’ll be more and more common in the coming weeks, as will every other type of tourist, and they will fill up the caravan park and the short term holiday rental accommodation. The latter appears to be quite plentiful, much to the chagrin of the young residents in this town looking for affordable long term rentals.

My friend and some of his buddies are looking for new houses to live in, and currently there is nothing at all available in their price range. They are the surfers, the hospitality workers, the wanderers who decided to stay in this beachside town for a while because parts of it are very conducive to their playful lifestyle, but the rental market isn’t able to accommodate them. From the brief insight I’ve had in to this town, It would appear that if you exist anywhere outside of cashed up tourist and property owner, you’re not exactly supported here. Which I think is detrimental to the future of a place like this- it is precisely the young, property-less, passionate types who’s time isn’t completely tied to a trade associated with the building industry are the ones who would put the effort in to turning this place in to a year-round cultural hub, simply out of necessity, for their sanity, to support their desire to live in this environment, and the community would benefit from this.

It’s nice here, but I don’t think it’s my vibe. There is A LOT of heavy weed smoking amongst the young people I’ve met, also: meth smoking, also: the internet is shit out here. I don’t really dig on being around heavy drug users, and despite all but giving up on my online degree, I’d still need internet for various work things; as much as I like to think I could live without a decent internet connection, honestly, it’s already driving me a little crazy and it’s only been like, three days. Maybe a couple more days. Maybe I’ll leave tonight. I dunno man. I just dunno.