Vive L’Australie!

Patriotic fervour courses through the veins of the joyful populace of L’Australie on this annual day of celebration.

The tricolore informs the aesthetic from La Perouse to Vaucluse as loyal subjects commemorate the arrival of Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de Laperouse at Kamay, just days before Englishman Arthur Phillip on January 24, 1788.

The famed national colours adorn everything from the fleet of modern submarines in the bay to the delicious macarons baked so eagerly in honour of the visiting president, whose cavalcade rolls proudly along Route Anglais towards Crique Anglais.

A president who defers to his high school Art teacher, and not his high school sweetheart, on matters of liberte, egalite, fraternite, and rules without interference from an irrelevant monarch in distant lands. A leader as flawed as any Australien, but more than the mere puppet of a media mogul dismantling democracy throughout the world.

Joie de vivre permeates every beating heart after victory over the old enemy in the most recent football World Cup, which was celebrated with endless renditions of a truly rousing national anthem, and not with a dour hymn girt by confusion, nor with a smelly, sweaty shoe full of the nation’s harmful addiction. Instead, proud fans raised glasses full of local wine, blissfully unaware that one of our great export industries could have been significantly bruised if the prime ministerial puppet (born and bred in the East) had attacked our biggest trading partner to score a few cheap political points. Sacre bleu!

Alas, not every citizen shares the collective gaiety on this momentous day. Informed citizens raised on daily political discourse campaign passionately to change the date from January 24, and temper festivities with reminders of the genocide initiated at Kamay and perpetuated throughout a land that was never ceded.

They offer a firm critique of rising exclusive nationalism and dwindling media diversity, as well as the existential crisis facing native animals, and the wide brown land, incomprehensible even to the likes of Descartes or De Beauvoir. They take consolation in the fact that the French at least turned the cane toad infestation into haute cuisine.

Meanwhile, local surfers decry the British pronunciation of ‘Bronnie’ as they order tourists to chase barrels in the Coogee shore dump, and the nation’s terrible English literacy is attributed to language one interference.

On this warm, blue-sky day, children lob tennis balls at friends who present a flat bat and stand front-on with sandy feet pegged together. Nearby, the elegant elite sip cocktails at Bondi’s exclusive private beach club, and savour the heavenly combination of unrivalled culinary expertise and rich natural ingredients which could never have culminated in good ol’ meat and 3 veg.

Vive L’Australie!

Image: Eleni Stefanovski

First published in The Beast magazine, February 2022.

COOGEE GOES BIG!

The renovation of the COOGEE BAY HOTEL will see the entire suburb of COOGEE engorged and expanded in order to complement yet another Sydney developer’s great compensatory phallus.

As the COOGEE BAY HOTEL swells upwards and outwards, so will all of the buildings within a five-kilometre radius, creating a renovation boom that will attract more tradies than an anti-lockdown protest. The vainglory erection will usher in a host of other improvements sure to enhance the life of every resident and visitor in the coming years:

A giant shadow will stretch from the beach all the way to Wedding Cake Island as the sun heads west.

The red and yellow flags will be bigger than the national flag in Mexico City’s Zocalo, and will fly on poles which double as wind turbines.

The tranquil waters of COOGEE bay will become a terminal for cruise ships full of humongous Trump supporters carrying bleach and COVID-19. Subsequently, registered voters across the Eastern Suburbs will soon find themselves choosing between Clive Palmer, Craig Kelly or George Christensen.

The beach will become the exclusive backdrop of big, buffed, bronzed bodies. Don’t even think about stepping on to the sand unless you can bench 200kg, or boast 1 million Instagram followers.

Away from the golden sands, the colossal calamities continue.

Fish and Chip shops must replace hake and whiting with whale shark and beer-battered manta ray, with a side of wedges big enough to be towed behind a boat at Club Med. And if you swing by Maccas on the way to the beach, you’ll definitely be supersized.

COOGEE residents will be forced to phase out their small city cars for Monster Trucks, Chevrolet Suburbans and Dodge Rams, and can house them in the world’s biggest underground carpark.

Every resident will be obliged to own at least one St Bernard, English Mastiff and Great Dane, and to tell every passing jogger, “…They won’t hurt you, they’re just playing…”

Family homes will make way for apartment towers rivalling the residential structures of Hong Kong and Singapore, and the Burj Khalifa will lose its status as the world’s tallest building. The COOGEE Palace will be renamed Nurul Istana Iman II in honour of the Sultan of Brunei.

COOGEE Oval will be developed in the style of Rio’s Maracana, and will make the upgrade of the SFS look like a year 7 Design and Technology assignment. Galloping Greens fans will be cheering for a team whose scrumhalf dwarfs Will Skelton, and sporty juniors will represent the COOGEE Krakens Rugby League and Netball teams, or play football for COOGEE Inflated.

COOGEE will retain the title until a neighbouring developer feels compelled to overcompensate, and the only thing that won’t get any bigger is the surf.

First published in The Beast magazine, January 2022

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

The Eastern Suburbs Olympics.

The region’s best athletes will fight for suburban superiority in the inaugural Eastern Suburbs Olympics during July and August. Super-talented locals will represent their suburbs in the IOC-sanctioned event and will compete for gold, silver and bronze across the following specifically-designed sports:

  1. Coffee Cup Relay

Teams of four must pass a large, full, disposable, branded coffee cup along the coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee while swerving between weekend traffic and selfie addicts.

  • Shore dump Gymnastics

Gymnasts must perform the most creative and acrobatic tricks in the Coogee shore dump, without breaking their neck.

  • Bodysurfing

Whompers must bodysurf between the flags at Bondi Beach and make it all the way to the sand without smashing headlong into a swimmer.

  • Beach Volleyball Boxing

Tamarama and Bondi Beaches will host this exciting hybrid sport. Spiking your opponent in the head equals one point. Knocking them out earns 2 points, and spiking a nearby child in the head equals 6 and out.

  • Rabbit Hunting

Hunt the feral rabbits at north Clovelly headland, and earn a point for every skin. Avoid killing any of the rabbits who are completing their recovery session at Clovelly Beach.

  • Synchronised Swimming

Team and individual synchronised swimming events will be held at Bronte Baths. Every Eastern Suburbs resident is required to attend at least one session, because it’s not an Olympics without watching hour after hour of Aussie swimmers in sequins.

  • Fencing

Athletes must use a Sabre, Foil or Epee to fight off fearless seagulls while attempting to eat a full meal of Fish and Chips without losing a single chip to the ubiquitous birds.

  • Dog fights

Mackenzies Bay will host fights to the death between off-leash pooches, while local parks, beaches and playgrounds will host fatal fights between dogs and innocent children.

  • Sandcastles

Competitors will have just one day to secure a DA, receive a Homebuilder grant and construct an elaborate sandcastle to be built by the region’s best architects and tradies. The top eight sandcastles will be judged by nosy neighbours and S. Cam, if the IOC can afford his appearance fee.

10.

A gruelling challenge. Run the City to Surf in under 60 minutes while dragging at least one primary school child, plus dog, new-born, pram, school bags, instrument, scooters, helmets, projects…

Athletes can compete in just one event, or contest all ten disciplines for the right to be crowned the greatest athlete in the East. To honour the ancient Olympics, and the spectators, every event will be contested nude. As a result, competitors wearing sluggos or boardies will be disqualified, and women in Brazilian bikinis risk appearing on the front cover of The Beast.

First published in The Beast magazine, August 2021.

Image: http://www.frugalfrolicker.com

This Land…

Darkness enveloped the land.

A depressing grey pall hung heavily over the land and fomented despicable violence which entrenched anger, frustration, despair and fear in those victimised by birth. Toxic masculinity leeched from the pores of rabid salivating animals and sullied the pristine waterways, the same waterways which had offered solace and retreat in an imagined past; the white-capped waves and golden sands since converted into a haven for leering eyes and lecherous ghouls.

Fear racked the fairer sex. Survival strategies were devised and disseminated, carried in nervous whispers through the darkened streets and the darker web. Clothes, make-up and sobriety were scrutinised before safety was promised in the world outside – the land outside which they called home. Home, where violence had been domesticated, by those who had not.

Keys to unlock inherited power were now held between forefingers. Capsicum spray sat beside scented spray and self-care acquiesced to self-defence. Avoid the darkness, they were told, but darkness was everywhere. Darkness had swallowed the land and voraciously consumed all that was good.

Emboldened by self-appointed truth tellers and by the weakness of their rulers, they threatened and struck, abused and demeaned, dismissed and suppressed. Emboldened by the apathy, silence and spin of the law makers. Law makers or law breakers? The lines had blurred, the distinction lost.

Depravity extended its greedy tentacles from the distant corridors of power to the hallowed grounds of prestige, where the elite schooled their offspring in the perpetuation of power.

How good! they cheer,

How good! to leer.

Retain your grace, remain the same,

Make-up your face, your words be tame.

Enough is enough, the victims declared, but it was never enough. Never enough for the rapacious scourge which infested their world and controlled their bodies, and the bodies within bodies.

The fair were few and far between, ignored in print, ignored on screen. They and their allies drowned under a deluge of ignorance and noise as the heavens unleashed a torrent of hate and lies, and cowardly cries.  It comes from the sky, it comes from up high, the news we use to justify.

Dystopia was not an imagined future, dystopia was a lived present, dictated for eternity by one bite of a forbidden fruit.

Then he emerged.

Short in stature, but bold of heart.

Follow me, he declared, in messianic tones, and I will deliver you from darkness and into light. I will protect you, he promised. So, follow him they did and the light returned. Joy, gaiety and unimagined bliss filled their souls.

Pink roses blossomed. Pink roses bloomed with hope and the promise of a new future.

All was well in the land of pink roses.

Image: Carlos Quintero

First published in The Beast magazine, May 2021

Dogs Under Attack at Mackenzies Bay.

Dogs at Mackenzies Bay are under attack after Waverley Council approved plans to construct a park for SUVs at the tiny beach. The news has angered pet owners who resent the intrusion of off-road drivers into a space they are not allowed to use.

The showdown is set to rival the most brutal and bloody sporting contests in history after months of bickering between the two parties on social media.

An SUV driver sparked the conflict with a simple remark.

“An SUV would crush a little pooch,”

To which a pet owner replied,

“A medium-sized pet dog has the same carbon footprint as an SUV.”

From that point it was on.

The beachside fight will take place with no regard for social distancing or health concerns, and will begin as soon as council completes the construction of the SUV facilities.

An access road will plough through Gaerloch Reserve, across the coastal path and onto the rocks, and a boat ramp will be a launching site for jet skis. Hoses will allow drivers to wash the sand, oil, motor fluids and other debris straight into the ocean. Council has also opened a tender for a car wash café to be built on the site, but pet owners reminded drivers they have taken over every café in the Eastern Suburbs.

Vitriolic pre-fight tension included the following attacks:

“SUVs will scare away the sunbathers, we’ll have it all to ourselves,”

“But dogs scare coastal birds away, and many of them never come back to this resting spot.”

“We’ll rip a hole in this beach with our circle work,”

“Just watch our pets damage native and planted vegetation with their digging”

“Slip, slop, slap with motor oil,”

“Yeah, well SUVs don’t poo, but dog faeces alters the coastal soil’s nutrient profile.”

“That’s right,” supported a fur friend, “and our dogs will destroy the original soil and the ability of remnant native vegetation to regenerate”

Pooch parents reminded the drivers that most owners pick up after their dogs, before one of their members admitted to never scooping up a soggy dropping from a rock pool, and claimed that the natural tides of the bay wash away everything anyway.

The dirty drivers then boasted,

“Stormwater run off closes beaches for days,” which drew a counter attack,

“Faecal contamination impacts the health of swimmers and surfers at Mackenzie’s Bay and Tamarama Beach, and this pollution will disrupt sensitive marine biodiversity.”

Meanwhile, Waverley Council promised that Rangers will ensure the fight does not detract from the experience of other beachgoers, but will instead be great live entertainment for people on the coastal walk.

“Like an animated Sculpture by the Sea”

First published in The Beast magazine, March 2021.

Image: http://www.frugalfrolicker.com

What about Sydney?

Where are the Emus in Emu Plains,

Did they run off to Emu Heights?

How many red ferns remain in Redfern, and

Were other body parts thrown in Liverpool?

Was the view ever beautiful at Bella Vista?

Do learned gentlemen ply the waterways at Wiseman’s Ferry?

Does life smell sweeter at Lavender Bay, and

Is it Christmas year round in Merrylands?

Do coral reefs fringe Blair Athol, and

Is the water still fresh at Freshwater?

Can I go skiing at Glen Alpine, and

Is Neutral Bay popular with the Swiss?

Will I see acres of greenery at Greenacre, and

Are many children conceived at Rooty Hill?

Are horses still fed at Haymarket, and

Will I get shot at Hunters Hill?

Where is the forest in Frenchs Forest, and

Must I speak French in La Perouse?

How many real men live in Manly?

How many Roses grow in Rose Bay?

What time is Mass at Quakers Hill, and

Do they shear sheep at Warwick Farm?

Do any black heathens live in Blackheath, and

Will I find love at Kissing Point?

Can Skippy be spotted at Kangaroo Point?

Do whales still frolic at Whale Beach?

What’s so great about Alexandria, and

What’s new in Newtown?

Will a field of lilies great me at Lilyfield?

Do any banksias thrive in Banksia?

Can I take lunch at Breakfast Point, and

Does Morning Bay’s beauty wane by midday?

Has all the rush been cut from Rushcutters Bay?

Does anyone care about Sans Souci?

Do any republicans live in Queenscliff?

Should I avoid Edgecliff if I suffer from vertigo, and

Is adrenaline promised while traversing Ropes Crossing?

Are there any orchards at Orchard Hills,

or any wattles at Wattle Grove?

Do high achievers live in Pennant Hills, and

Does the world end at Ultimo?

Safe Injecting Space Planned for Mackenzie’s Bay.

Drug addicts will be able to legally consume any form of illicit drug at Mackenzie’s Bay after Waverley Council declared the beach an open-air safe injecting space.

Hard core junkies, professional footballers and recreational users will be free to inject, sniff, snort, smoke or imbibe any illicit substance they chose with complete impunity, and police and Rangers will take no action against any person within the signposted designated area of Mackenzie’s Bay and Gaerloch Reserve.

Council alluded to dog owners in explaining the rationale behind the shock decision.

“Dog owners claim that they should be allowed to take their dogs to Mackenzie’s Bay because they have been breaking the rules for years anyway,” stated a spokesperson for Waverley Council.

“Drug users have also been illegally consuming drugs for years, so they should be allowed to use the bay as well. We really owe a great deal of gratitude to dog owners for opening our eyes to the possibility of creating a safe and non-judgemental space for people to enjoy their drug taking,” continued the spokesperson.

Council recounted how owners have given their dogs free rein over the space and enjoyed the lack of regulation that is applied to other beaches within the municipality, and that local residents will be elated to learn that drug users will be extended the same privilege.

“We are also confident that tourists flocking to the coastal walk will be delighted to see a beach full of drug addicts enjoying the lovely bay. It makes a great backdrop for a selfie.”

Council has subsequently been forced to reverse the current alcohol ban on all of its beaches, because alcohol is also a drug. As a result, residents are advised to leave footwear on at all times to protect their feet from shards of glass, and to take gloves and rubbish bags to pick up other people’s waste after alcohol-fuelled celebrations.

Bemused residents oppose the move, and argue that the presence of drug users will detract from the experience of the public who want to use the beach. They also pointed out that used needles, bongs and other drug paraphernalia will be left on the beach.

Council reminded residents that dog droppings and plastic bags have been left on the beach for years, but this hasn’t forced Rangers to enforce the rules which prohibit dogs from the beach.

“Furthermore, as one owner told us, anything left behind at the beach will eventually be washed into the ocean by the tides. Dog faeces is already harming marine life and fish, as well as posing a health risk to swimmers at Mackenzie’s and Tamarama, so a few needles and traces of meth won’t make too much difference.”

Image: http://www.frugalfrolicker.com

This article was first published in The Beast magazine, November 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

Great Public Schools Launch the Rugby Revolution.

The Great Public Schools athletic association is set to introduce the greatest revolution in Rugby Union since William Webb Ellis picked up the ball, after the organisation of Australia’s wealthiest schools granted itself permission to complete its sporting season during COVID-19 restrictions.

The GPS sporting association, which includes The Scots College, Sydney Grammar School and Sydney Boys High School, will play the first ever series of socially distanced rugby in the world. Spokesperson for the association, Richie Power, outlined some of the monumental changes to the sport and their likely impact.

  • No contact – Players may not pass within 1.5 metres of each other, even their teammates.

Rolling mauls will subsequently resemble an interpretive dance, and every line out will be won by the boy with the longest wing span. There’s no chance of hands in the ruck and scrums will become even more farcical than those in the NRL.

  • Try

The game they play in heaven will revert to its roots and tries will be worth 0, but earn the scoring team the right to ‘try’ for a conversion.

“If we awarded points for tries, we’d end up with cricket scores every game, and we know Rugby players can’t count,” explained Power.

Essentially, players cannot touch the ball or any other player with their hands, and can only advance the ball up the field with their feet. The end result will be…soccer.

  • Restricted spectators

Parents and Old Boys can follow the Rugby Revolution from Bellevue Hill to Parramatta. While spectators are prohibited from standing on the side lines, they can chant war cries from the comfort of their Range Rover, Rolls Royce or Bentley, or from their private yacht moored in Lane Cove River, after it has been collected from the Seychelles or Turks and Caicos.

Old Boys of The King’s School are exempt from any COVID-19 restrictions as the school has declared its sizeable territory a sovereign nation not subjected to the laws of Australia.

Critics have slammed the decision to allow the GPS schools to continue their regular sporting fixtures while others schools must still abide by COVID-19 restrictions, but Power defended the move.

“We paid a fortune for our scholarship athletes, sorry students, and we demand a return on our investment. If not, we’ll have to send them back to the western suburbs or an island in the South Pacific, or simply let them study, learn and improve their academic and employment prospects”

“In addition, we need to be able to channel our considerable government funding into extravagant sporting facilities and specialised coaches. Otherwise we’d be forced to give our Teachers such an enormous pay rise that they could finally afford to live within an hour of their workplace.”

“Without Rugby, we would just be public schools, and that’s not great.”

First published in The Beast Magazine, October 2020.

Image: http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com