You’re killing us.
You may not know me, but we know you. In fact we’ve known you now for well over 20 years. You’ve had an impact on our life. A lot. For better at times, but these days mostly for worse. When you are having the best two weeks of your year, I can guarantee that we are having our worst. You can tell who we are. Have a look around. See that person trying to get a park outside the post office, the one who had their indicator on but you crossed double lanes and nabbed the space? The one who has gone bright red and is giving you the finger and seems to be calling you unpleasant things? That person lives here. They were planning on sending a letter. Probably a cry for help. Strangely you barely know we exist. Yet we live here. We aren’t on holidays. We are trying to get on with our daily lives.
Most of us don’t really benefit that much from your being here. Only an elite few. I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that. There are people in Byron who live here, work here, shop here, send their kids to school here, who find your presence rather upsetting. It’s not that you’re not welcome. You are. In fact, we all know that we need you. Just not so many of you. Could you perhaps ring each other before you turn up and work out some sort of roster? Could you not bring so many cars? Some people are having highways diverted through their backyards and while it makes things better for you it has impacts on our local people’s quality of life. And the environment. What’s left of it. You may have seen the environment. It’s that thing along the coastline that you all want to see. Because you all come here with your cars now we can’t park in our villages and now we have to pay for parking. If one of our children has an accident and we have to rush them to hospital it can take three times as long to get there. On hot days we don’t go to the beach because we know that you will be there and it will be so crowded people will be fighting in the carpark. And on the waves. Our surfers know that hundreds of you will be paddling out on your brand-new boards on our favourite breaks, mowing down our children in the shallows. So they go somewhere else too. We call it The Pass for a reason. At the height of summer if someone asks if I want to go to the beach I say ‘Pass’. Wategos is Wategone.
We pay huge rates to service the infrastructure needed to keep you in Byron Bay. If you live in a country town in the Shire outside of Byron you’re lucky to see a cent spent on any public infrastructure in your area. You must think that your coming here means that we have lots of money to spend on public works. It’s actually a game of Monopoly. That money goes to the people who hold the best property and the rest of us idiots are left paying for public works. Our rates go to maintaining your holiday playground. We don’t get to use it much. And to top it off, there aren’t enough of us to keep it to the standard that it should be. So we have to pay more. That makes us not like you very much. No-one has ever properly supported a bed tax that might have helped. You probably wouldn’t even mind paying $1 a day to stop our giving you the evil eye, but for some mysterious reason people in power would rather the most disempowered people pay. That’s how the tax system works I guess. The more money you have the more money you have to spend on avoiding spending money.
There’s barely a public toilet in the region any of us can use. Except those ugly metal ones that look like space garbage from an intergalactic prison. If you take longer than 10 minutes to do your business you will have an audience. Which is okay for me because I’m a comedian and I still love a good poo joke. With the number of you people here you’d think our public parks would be state of the art. They’re filthy. Overcrowded. And not somewhere you’d take your kid. Unless you didn’t mind their chewing on broken glass and ciggie butts. Anyway most of our parks are where our homeless have to live. Because see those houses you are staying in? Most of those were supposed to be our homes. And because you will pay so much to have a holiday in them our residential market is so competitive that more than 100 people might turn up for a rental inspection on a rundown three-bedroom suburban house being leased for $1k per week. We have people living in their cars. On couches. In tents. In the dunes. So, dear tourist, I don’t want to be rude, but we need a break. So would you mind going somewhere else this year?