Sunbaking to Debut at Brisbane 2032

Sunbaking will make its Olympic debut at Brisbane 2032 and residents of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs are expected to scoop the medals. Sunbaking is the first new sport to be added to the program after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared it an official sport.

“We are enormously excited to add this popular Australian tradition to the program for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games,” began a statement from the IOC. “The decision to classify sunbaking as a sport was made after reviewing images of thousands of people sunbaking without masks at Bondi, Coogee and Bronte during Sydney’s recent COVID-19 lockdown.”

Residents throughout Greater Sydney were required to wear a face mask every time they left the house during the extended lockdown, except when exercising or for religious reasons,

“…confirming that Australians are sun worshippers, which provides further reason to include the sport.”

The IOC sought advice from former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard, as well as Waverley and Randwick councils, all of whom allowed people to sunbake without masks, congregate in groups and flaunt the rules that applied to other areas of Greater Sydney. This helped greatly to sway the IOC.

Eastern Suburbs residents are already favoured to sweep the medals, even though the games are 11 years away.

“The eastern suburbs region is blessed with wonderful beaches which are the perfect training ground for elite international sunbakers,” explained Itan Allova, the newly-appointed high-performance director at Sunbaking Australia, which will be based at Bondi Beach.

“Local sunbakers also enjoy the support of regional authorities who allow them to train every time the mercury rises, even when residents of other parts of Greater Sydney are locked out of these specialised training facilities.”

The announcement is expected to attract even more people to local beaches in the coming months as Sydneysiders seize the opportunity to represent their nation at a home Olympics. Sunbaking is open to all ages, shapes and sizes, including children, meaning some sunbakers in Brisbane could be even younger than the skateboarders.

Sunbaking will take place alongside Surfing and Beach Volleyball, creating the historic opportunity for an athlete to win gold medals in separate sports at exactly the same time.

Competitors will be judged according to criteria such as consistency of tan, depth of tan and avoidance of tan lines. Sunbakers exhibiting signs of sunburn, or the British Tan, will be eliminated, and use of performance enhancing substances such as tanning oils is prohibited.

Critics argue the inclusion of Sunbaking discriminates against people from landlocked nations, and even residents of western Sydney or the Blue Mountains who live miles from the beach, to which the IOC replied:

“Well, we included Surfing.”

Image: Apostolos Vamvouras

First published in The Beast magazine, November 2021

Bondi Needs a Private Beach Club.

The famous sands of Bondi Beach could soon enjoy an injection of culture if the Amalfi Beach Club is approved. The private club would cordon off 2% of the beach and deliver desperately needed joie de vivre to the beach and the region.

La Gente Bonita

La Gente Bonita are ‘Beautiful People’. They are attractive, effortlessly sophisticated, wealthy and popular, and need a private club in order to socially distance themselves from the great unwashed. They carry an exclusive strain of the COVID-19 virus, which can improve one’s career prospects if transmitted from one high net worth individual to another. Beautiful People pine for the gender stereotypes of the 1950s, as the Amalfi males are doctors, surgeons, business owners and entrepreneurs, while the women can aspire to success only in fashion, advertising, beauty and modelling.

High Disposable Income

Beautiful People with high disposable income will fill the sun loungers and cabanas because they hold a BPass, or Bondi Passport. Lower middle-class Sydneysiders are also known to enjoy spending their disposable income, but they do not qualify for a BPass.

O’Brien Estate

The exclusive club would be established on a patch of sand called O’Brien Estate, named in honour of Francis O’Brien. He previously owned the land surrounding Bondi Beach and attempted to block public access in the 1880’s after the beach became too popular.

It’s Black and White

While the masses will jostle for clean waves between the red and yellow flags, Beautiful People can swim in serenity between the black and white flags which mark the boundaries of O’Brien’s Estate.

Backpacker’s Rip

Backpacker’s Rip will be re-engineered to constantly tow the great unwashed away from the Amalfi Club, and backpackers will have to drown at another part of the beach if they want a cameo on Bondi Rescue.

Lifeguard recruitment

Waverley Council will form a special unit of lifeguards plucked from the pages of social media, and the aesthetically gifted lifeguards will patrol the sands and the surf around the private club. Only bronzed, buffed, bedazzling beings need apply.

Unfounded criticism

Locals and Sydneysiders argue that it is UnAustralian to pay to enjoy the beach. They claim it is an attack on Australian values to pay for what has always been an egalitarian space, while others are denied this right. They argue that this would be akin to having to pay exorbitant fees to ensure a strong education for your child, or having to pay a fortune to secure reliable home internet access.

Proponents of the private club refute these claims.

“Gazing longingly at 100 beautiful people sipping on cocktails while marauding teenagers kick sand in your face is sure to lift community morale.”

Image: http://www.timeout.com

First published in The Beast magazine, December 2020

Bondi Beach closed to the public?

Bondi Beach was once almost closed to the public, and it had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia’s most famous beach was nearly lost to the public as far back as the 1880s.

Bondi Beach did close for a period of time in 2020 when many public spaces throughout Sydney were closed, and after hundreds of people flocked to the beach during warm autumn weekends despite requests from health authorities to stay at home and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The last time Bondi and nearby beaches had been hidden behind wire fences was during WWII. The mere notion of closing a beach incensed many Eastern Suburbs locals and fellow Sydneysiders, who regard beaches as an egalitarian sanctuary and a birth right to all Australians.

Their fierce reaction to the COVID closures reflects their emotional attachment to sand and surf. These feelings are put in context when considering that not even WWII closed Bondi. Military fortifications such as barbed wire, concrete tank traps, wire coils and iron stakes were installed on the golden sands, but swimming was still permitted. Swimmers at Bondi did have to negotiate a wire maze which was nicknamed the ‘rat run’, but they were not banned from entering the water in the 1940s as they were during autumn 2020.

Many swimmers must have regretted their decision to take a dip during the war, because Japanese submarines later breached a defence boom and launched bombs which exploded at Bondi, Rose Bay and Woollahra. Many swimmers were also rushed to Bondi Beach Public School first aid post to be treated for cuts and bruises.

Temporary closure

Short-term closures are not uncommon at Bondi. In August 2018 the beach was closed after the body of a whale calf washed ashore and had to be removed. The presence of the whale calf also increased the risk of shark activity and the sighting of the ocean’s apex predator will often close beaches.

Bondi lifeguards are cognisant of the dangers of big swells and strong currents after five people drowned and hundreds had to be rescued on February 6, 1938, which has since been known as Black Sunday.

Permanent closure

Whale carcasses, shark sightings and dangerous surf have closed Bondi Beach temporarily, but not permanently. A permanent closure almost came into effect in the 1880s.

The land around Bondi Beach was originally granted to road builder William Roberts as far back as 1809. In those days, Bondi was far from a tourist haven and an exclusive Sydney suburb. Limited access and transport meant that very few people ventured to the beach. Even in 1851, the beach was still sat a long way from the city, so Edward Hall and Francis O’Brien were able to purchase 200 acres in Bondi which encompassed most of the beach frontage. Modern-day Sydneysiders would die for such water views. The new owners named the land ‘The Bondi Estate’.

Perhaps this is the first recorded evidence of ‘Brand Bondi’

Between 1855 and 1877, O’Brien began buying sections of the estate from Hall, who was his father-in-law. Soon, O’Brien owned all of the land and renamed the area ‘O’Brien Estate’. Initially, the new owner was happy to share the property and the beach with the public and it became popular as a picnic ground and an amusement resort.

Then problems arose.

O’Brien felt that the beach and the surrounding area were becoming too popular and he threatened to stop public beach access. After much discussion among the people of Sydney, the Municipal Council contacted the government with the message that the beach must remain open to the public. As a result, Bondi Beach became a public beach on June 9, 1882.

The public were allowed to enjoy the beach, but it didn’t mean they would swim. In fact, daylight bathing was considered immoral and scandalous behaviour until the ban was lifted in 1903, and Bondi Surf Club was not established until 1906.

Since the tramway to the beach was completed in 1884, visitor numbers have increased year after year and Bondi is undoubtedly the most visited beach in the country. In 1929 it is estimated that 60,000 people were visiting the beach on any given Saturday or Sunday in summer.

Interestingly, Waverley Council currently faces another challenge to keep the entire beach open to the public. A business groups wants to establish a private, European-style beach club at one section of the beach in 2021, which would charge about $AU80 per person for entry.

While the private club would restrict entry to only about 2% of the famous stretch of sand, the proposal has divided opinion among Bondi locals and Sydneysiders. Some people believe the club will boost the local economy and add vibrancy to the space after the restrictions of COVID-19, while others claim that forcing people to pay to go to a beach is simply ‘UnAustralian’.

Sydneysiders will soon find out if they must once again fight to keep Bondi beach open.

Image: http://www.timeout.com

Carpark Conundrum

The debates, the discussions, the proposals and humdrum,

A world-famous beach and its carpark conundrum.

Build it ABOVE GROUND, came a councillor’s motion

But why an above ground? Just swim in the ocean.

Well UNDER GROUND, then, is the perfect solution,

Until ice caps melt from car-borne pollution.

Warn us, they did, that cars would start floating

As suburbs like Bondi kept bulging and bloating.

So, HOME GROUND, said locals, with spots just for us,

While those labelled ‘other’ must cram on the bus.

Or HOME GROUND for athletes, so guts they can bust,

While their current home ground turns to rubble and dust.

Waratahs, Roosters, Sky Blues and Swans

Can be sheltered alongside those striving for tons.

An UNDER ARM carpark, for those for whom laws,

Are as easily tampered with as red leather balls.

The voices grew louder, with yet more ideas,

And echoed the sound of the changing of gears.

Why, UNDER COVER, and be it constructed with stealth,

To protect all our cherished assertions of wealth.

Or INBOUND, cried tourists, enjoying their trip,

Without us, who else will get caught in the rip?

But, OUTBOUND is better, for serving the function

Of keeping the Westies holed up at the Junction.

Be OUTGROWN it will, as more residents arrive,

And through poor public planning they are all forced to drive.

Thus, INGROWN, the carpark pierced through the thin

Perfectly sculpted, tanned Bondi skin.

The longer debated, the deeper it burrowed,

Incessant dull pain causing brows to be furrowed.

It gnawed at locals and pollies alike,

But is rendered redundant with the push of a bike.

So, while pushers of pens kept on talking and talking,

A solution was found, and the answer was…walking.

Image:www.timeout.com