At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, my least favourite time are those months between Christmas and the end of Easter. The rest of the year this rural area is totally mine except for those few locals who have the decency to stay out of sight. Winter is when our bush tracks are home to echidnas, blue tongue lizards, snakes, wombats and a trillion ants; when seagulls and herons roosting on our rock-shelves hang out their wings like washing to dry; when our deserted beaches welcome any walker who doesn’t mind being blown about by an Antarctic wind.
Boxing Day however, our foreshore turns into Tent City. Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing per say against caravans, tents, annexes, barbecues, four wheel drives and suchlike. Not if they stay in their rightful place. It’s just that they are so pervasive, so unavoidable, so in your face. Walk along a bush track and sooner or later you’ll blunder into a stranger. Then it seems churlish not to exchange a greeting and maybe a few comments about the weather. At least that’s all. Thank heavens for Anglo-Saxon reticence.
Or try jollying yourself down to the beach where, in exchange for gulls, short tailed shearwaters and other birds too numerous to mention, our stretch of sand is filled with surfers, surfing equipment, sunbathers, fishing boats, children, beach umbrellas and dogs. My jaundiced eye picks up caravans perched high on the hill overlooking the beach. Settled onto a cliff with a million dollar view, they cost their owners a few dollars where we locals must pay squillions in rates for our bush blocks.
Even our local post office undergoes some metamorphosis. From a sleepy little shop where everyone has time to chat, it turns into a gung ho establishment where, if we don’t turn up at sparrow fart, our daily newspaper has been sold out.
If you think this is merely a selfish desire to keep this place sacrosanct, you’re right. If too many people become entranced by it, they might buy in and then where will we be? Not in any hideaway, that’s for sure.