Surfing isn’t outlawed in NSW, but travelling is.
Any New South Wales surfers worried about their beachside communities being invaded by a bunch of coronavirus-carrying blow-ins this Easter can take heart in the fact that the cops aren’t mucking around.
Last week I reported that surfing in the cockroach state was legally still cool as long as you stuck to your local and didn’t go trawling the coast for the best waves. This week I can report that the second part of that directive was definitely not optional.
Ironically, I found it out firsthand yesterday while researching a story about whether or not the cops would be taking things seriously this holiday period.
Driving south to a small coastal community that had seen more than its fair share of tourists in recent weeks, I had the eternally delightful experience of having a paddy wagon follow me down. Given I’d copped a speeding fine less than two weeks earlier, I was eager to play by the rules and kept my speed on the safe side. Nevertheless, the lights were soon flashing and I was getting pulled over. What had I done? Had I crept over the speed limit? Did I have a defective brake light? Had some grommet drawn a dick in the dust on my back windscreen?
‘Just wondering what you’re doing down here?’ the cop asked me when I wound down my window.
I explained to him that I worked for the local rag and was in the process of covering a story. He nodded and explained to me that he’d run my rego number and discovered I lived 40 kilometres away. He was happy with my explanation given I was travelling for the purposes of work, but had I said I was heading down to a certain righthand point break because I thought it would be the best place to exercise, I’m not sure he would’ve been so quick to send me on my way. He had a large and lumbering presence that seemed fairly attuned to bullshit. He rapped his knuckles on my car as he walked away.
Of course, the big fella might’ve been a particularly zealous breed of law enforcer and you could drive from Bondi to Byron this weekend without experiencing something similar, but I doubt it. The NSW Police have unveiled a pretty explicit ad campaign online encouraging people to stay home this holiday period. Among some gentler words of advice was this statement by Geoff McKechnie, the assistant deputy commissioner responsible for policing in Regional NSW: ‘We will be looking for people who are travelling unnecessarily, without a reasonable excuse, and we will be ensuring that those people comply with the directions.’
It’s your call of course, but Big Brother might just be watching.