So I've been thinking that perhaps, since we're damn close to half way through our Noosa adventure it's about time I started saying a few things about it.
Although it does say something that in comparison to Darwin at least I don't often feel moved to comment at all. Considering the magnitude of the shift to come here I should think I would have more to say.
Today I witnessed two things that are very much of my experience of this part of the world. Let me share.
The first happened while I was buying a bit of elastic to finish off Amy's new dress at oh sew noosa (the town fabric shop). There were a few people there and I was kind of in a hurry and the new owner was a bit flustered under pressure and then someone who showed not the slightest awareness for all the action going on came in and tried to engage the owner in a bit of chat. And as I was thinking she was being a bit thoughtless I cast my eye over to her and was completely shocked.
The owner of the voice was like something come to life off a tabloid plastic surgery gone bad feature. Whilst I was trying not to be rude and stare and resisted my strong urge to go over and get a good close look I could not help seeing that she was a complete freak. She had obviously had cheek implants, ENORMOUS cheek implants, which distorted her whole mouth so her upper lip sat far out and above her lower lip. Her eyes were also weird, and I am sure a number of other bits were wrong too, but compared to the half tennis ball cheeks they paled into insignificance. I grabbed my elastic and left thinking, only in Noosa.
And I was thinking that because you don't have to tour much of Noosa before you notice the proliferation of establishments aimed at rich people feeling their age. There's dental spas galore offering teeth whitening and caps and goodness only knows what, dermatological clinics offering peels and lasers and sun spot removal for people who aren't just old but sun worn too and all the usual health/massage/beauty salons. So while I haven't seen the plastic surgeons it would come as no surprise to know they are here in numbers.
Because Noosa is full of rich people. And since there isn't a load of work options, they are mostly retired or businessmen and women (though it should be said they mostly appear to be men, more than a few with trophy wives judging by the age differentials between couples at the more expensive restaurants). There are loads of shops with very expensive clothes (and not just on the tourist strip), gourmet food delis, kitchen and home wares shops and the town fabric shop is very up market not just in terms of prices but in relation to the style of fabrics (think spring racing carnival).
Of course wherever there are loads of rich people there's loads of the people who serve them - the gardeners and tradies and pool cleaners and kitchen hands and waiting staff and supermarket shelf stackers. And this provides something of a cultural counterpoint with a fairly thin layer in between of the middle class home owning professionals. Not the kind of socio-economic distribution you see in a big city like Melbourne. And because the whole spectrum is geographically condensed there's a lot more co mingling that you might find in the classically stratified suburbs.
Incident number two happened when we went out for fish a chips tonight. Peregian Beach is a 15 minute drive south along the coast and we went the extra distance because Peregian has a nice park area between the dunes and the shops so D could play with the kids while I waited in the Friday night crowds for our food. I like this little town, it has a nice shopping and cafe area organised around an open square covered in big shady trees and tonight it was filled with all kinds of people - little kids on trikes and ride ons, bigger ones kicking balls, older teenagers posing in baseball caps, dogs on leads, families picnicking and tourists eating fancy meals at the outdoor restaurants. Lots of people in bare feet.
While we were eating our dinner at one of the many publicly provided table sets a teenager rode up to the general store, came to an abrupt stop and just dropped his bike right outside the door before going in D turned to me and said it reminds me of the 70s. He's absolutely right, it is very much like what I remember of the old days. And we were saying it in a really positive sense, that feeling of safety and community and inclusiveness. The lack of agro and the sheer number of kids of all ages just hanging around and playing with each other was really delightful. D commented that both ours played extremely well with other kids in the park and shared toys and left him alone in a way that pretty much never happens.
Then D says I can't think that car is parked legally and I look up to see one of those big car/van/people mover things parked incredibly badly and illegally with it's backside hanging out in to the roundabout and we reflect that it would be unlikely a parking inspector would be out at this hour on a Friday night.
Then Amy says where are those kids' mum and dad?
And D and I both realise the van is full of kids - there has to be at least 8 of them, all really young and there are no adults in the van with them. The inside light is on and they aren't strapped in and basically look like they are having a party in there. I don't find this so much alarming as, well, surprising I guess. Would never happen in Melbourne we say, or not anywhere we might see it. And we're speculating about where the parent must be and expecting any moment a harassed mum to turn up with an armload of fish and chips (of course you couldn't attempt to get all those kids out and manage them in a busy area just for a pick up) when along saunters mum and dad with milk and blocks of chocolate looking not the least bit harassed. Two adults and neither stayed with the kids. Hmmm.
And then they get in the van and mum sits in the front passenger seat and puts one little kid who couldn't be even two yet on her lap and puts her seat belt round the both of them and dad starts the engine and some of the kids are still standing up on the seats and without a backward glance he drives off. Not fucking likely I'd be seeing that in Melbourne either. And as D and I are picking our chins up off the table I am remembering something one of the carers at Wil's childcare centre said to me about her mixed feelings when she says goodbye to kids who get picked up by parents with their breath stinking of alcohol already at 4pm. I mean it wouldn't be fair if they died in a car accident because their mum or dad is pissed but if I said something there'd just be so much trouble...
Yep, it's just like the 70s alright.