Locals say 'stay in your own town' to ride out the Coronavirus.
There appear to be two schools of thought when it comes to surfers and the Coronavirus. One, it won’t affect me because I’m a surfer. The other, I better take social distancing seriously and that means hanging up the wetsuit for a while.
I have a mate who works in a hospital as a physiotherapist. He’s in camp two, having shed his surfing skin, donned a crewcut and is ready for when shit hits the fan.
He won’t be rehabbing sprained ankles when the cases quadruple as they are grimly forecast. He’s worked in emergency departments before and knows it’ll be all hands on deck. He’s really worried about ‘rona. Surfing for him is on hold.
He now signs off his messages, “See you PoCo” - post coronavirus in case you need me to spell it out. It’s an acceptable sign off these days.
But back to camp one. I’m sure you’ve seen them at your local. Not giving two fucks about a global health pandemic. Walking tall or creeping in the shadows there are plenty of surfers who are shunning the supposed ‘isolation’ nation we are supposed to be shuffling towards each day.
At my beach, I’ve noticed more new faces in the past fortnight than all of summer combined. Granted I live in Air BnB nirvana.
Many former and current pros have put up stumps close by between the cashed-up millionaire’s renovating their dream house ensuring tradies are the highest income earners per capita who don’t have a degree.
Even Thor has a beach house around the traps so it’s got pull.
I have to admit I can’t shake the surf bug. I’m an addict and have to get my fix.
But I can walk to the beach. And I don’t mean that to be smug. Just sayin’.
I pay rates and I got lucky.
So, what does one do when they feel they’re under siege from outsiders? From the faceless blow-ins, backpackers in camper vans, out of work hospitality staff and people from the city that decided there’s no better time to visit Byron than in a global health pandemic? Too bad the town is completely shuttered. She’ll be right. That’s the Aussie spirit.
Well, I’ve had a gut full of it. I’m ready to go rogue. I’ve fantasised about letting down tires, waxing windows, punching heads and taking out my form of tribal localism.
Fortunately, the locals down south at Angourie have a much more measured approach and are showing the way.
Laurie Towner posted a message on Instagram with a warning to visitors to keep out of their town.
“Please people now is not the time for a holiday in Yamba or Angourie as soon as this corona virus shit is over you are welcome back! Please stay close to your own town and respect what our community is telling you. from our community to yours stay safe happy and healthy”
Please people now is not the time for a holiday in Yamba or Angourie as soon as this corona virus shit is over you are welcome back! Please stay close to your own town and respect what our community is telling you. from our community to yours stay safe happy and healthy ✌️
There are reports that Angourie and my enclave aren’t the only places getting hot under the collar. Kalbarri royalty, Ry Craike, chimed in on Loz’ post pointing out the same thing was happening on the west coast.
“Couldn't agree more mate we got the same thing happening over here and not everybody is getting the msg!! Stay safe brother”
Tensions are at a boiling point down in Margaret River. A few days ago a councillor told backpackers they “needed to go home” amid mounting tensions between travellers and locals. The state has already shut its borders off to the rest of the country to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.
As we descend closer towards the day of reckoning will it be violence or common sense that prevails?
Emotions are running high. Many members of the community have lost jobs and income, and are anxious about what’s to come.
And the stress of being isolated with kids is no joke and things haven’t even kicked into hyperdrive with lockdowns around the country yet.
So, is it justified to allow someone to surf a break only if they live there and tell everyone else to rack off?
Today more beach car parks have been closed in Byron Bay. It means there will be a brigade of backpackers and surfers looking for someplace to go. I already know where they’ll converge.
What camp I land in might change in a few days.
Give up surfing on terms of mental anguish and forgo the benefits?
Or hold strong and enforce localism?
Where do you stand?