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Abby Eagle's Journal


meditation gold coastMounted Police shepherd Gold Coast rioters like sheep. 2009-02-03

The setting is Burleigh Beach, a coastal town on the Gold Coast of Queensland. The golden beaches, world class surf breaks and the sub tropical weather attracts tourists from all over the world. A four lane highway winds its way around the local headland. Burleigh town itself is just on the inland side of the highway. On the other side of the highway is a grassy foreshore that leads onto the beach. As such the attitude is pretty lay back, however over the last 20 years I have noticed what appears to be a shift in attitude.

I have noticed that jaywalkers have become more prevalent and more laize faire in their behaviour. I personally have nothing against jaywalking as long as it is done responsibly. For example when there is little traffic in the evening it does not make sense to wait 5 minutes for a walk sign when the road is empty of traffic. However during the day, traffic is heavy and pedestrians abound. Yet I have seen groups of people, generally teenagers crossing in front of traffic at the lights. Drivers have had to break drastically to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, yet from the squeals and shouts of the jaywalkers they don't seem to realise the possible consequences of their actions. On more than one occasion I have seen a group of ten people streaming across the highway near the lights, treating the exercise as if it was a game. Drivers are forced to slow down which then seems to send a message to other would be jay walkers to start their maneuver across the road.Over the years I have also observed a change in attitude from skateboarders.

When I was a teenager, skate boarders usually kept to parking lots but now they skate on the foot path and road as if they had vehicle rights. Perhaps the law has changed? Anyway, when driving it is not unusual to approach a skateboarder from behind on a side road who seems to have no idea or even a care that there may be traffic approaching from behind. Honking does not always attract the most favourable of comments from the skateboarders. Many skateboarders set up their ramps on the side road. There attitude seems to be that motor vehicles are a nuisance to their activity. One might think that the Police might take action but I have not seen any. I have even seen Police pass a skater boarder who was skating the wrong way up one-way James Street.

My next observation is that since September Eleven there are more Australian flags flying from motor vehicles and draped over balconies. On the recent Australia Day celebration in Burleigh there must have been a vendor selling flags because I saw many teenagers and youths wearing a flag draped over their shoulder.You might have read about the so called riot that happened in Burleigh Beach on Australia Day (26th January). I missed the actual disturbance but drove up to Burleigh a couple of hours after the peak. Even though a law was brought in a couple of years ago banning street drinking I saw many teenagers and youths walking by the side of the road doing just that.

I spoke to a couple of people who own a Butchers shop just opposite the park. They said that the media hyped up the report but listen to what they have to say. "Two Police officers on horseback chased a youth across the park into James street. They were followed by about '2,000' screaming teenagers. I don't know if they caught the youth but when they turned their attention to the crowd all they did was get their horses to walk sideways and shepard the teenagers like a sheep dog herding sheep, back to the beach. One of the horses was seen to actually use its head to push people to one side. So one Police man and one Police woman were able to herd the entire crowd back to the beach without any use of violence. Pretty amazing stuff.

One tourist commented that most of these kids had never seen a horse before and unless the object in question has two fins sticking out of it (a surfboard) they have no idea what to do."These observations leave me with some questions:

1. Are we seeing a rise in nationalism in Australia?

2. What will be the effect of a generation of people who are used to having the freedom of the streets?

3. Australians have a lazy, "she'll be right attitude" compared to Europeans and Asians. So what is going to happen in the coming recession? We are dealing with a generation of people who have been the focus of attention by their parents. How are they going to handle the hardship of a recession, if we have one?' __ © Author Abby Eagle


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