By Dan Dobbin.

They’re painting lines on the ground.

On the grass islands between the Pandanus, and the Paper Bark and the coastal scrub they’re painting lines.

In the National Park grounds traversed free-range for hours as grommets, surfing and making fires and fishing and climbing, they’re painting lines.

They’re hammering little wooden site numbers into the ground to try to corral chaos into order.

The conflation of highway upgrades and urban sprawl and Covid restricted travel options are drowning coastal communities under a deluged of transient visitors which ebb and flow like the tides each weekend and public holiday.

On Friday afternoons they burst free from the banks of large population centres and inundate sections of the coastline to saturation point.

They seek the “authentic”, the “real”, the “natural”, the antithesis of the planned lines of their urban homes.

They seek landscapes to serve as social media backdrop. Pictures of camp fires and sunsets and beaches.

Wannabe weekend Malcolm Douglas’s and Malcolm Doug-lasses espousing earth child outdoorsman vibes bedecked in $300 Patagonia puffer jackets and $150 Will and Bear fedora hats from the back of $40,000 white Volkswagen vans or repurposed Land Rovers. Perfectly planned carefreeness.

Steps must be taken to funnel and direct this urban runoff into contained areas, lest the human tide wash over and destroy all of the natural they so desperately craved.

The natural of the National Park now not so natural, an ironic dilution of the very thing sought in the first place.

So now there’s lines on the ground, and site numbers on little wooden stakes, and online booking, and maintained designated camp fire pits.

The western ideology of cataloguing, cartographing, categorising and compartmentalizing to bend nature to our will writ large on the micro scale.

Lines, civility, order, comfort.

It seems wherever we turn now in the surfing world we pump up against the same ideological manifestations.

Waves in a wave pool. Book your time, pay you’re cash, select your wave setting, don the appropriate coloured rashie, wait in line for your guaranteed 25 waves in the hour.

Lines, civility, order, comfort.

Governing competition bodies seemingly dedicated to the ownership and appropriation of all areas of the surfing experience and culture so that it can be neatly packaged and sold to the masses. Corpo-speak, virtue signalling, walls of positive noise, consumable.

Lines, civility, order, comfort.

Surf line ups infused with egalitarian ideals of entitlement, equity of access and expectations of fairness.

Lines, civility, order, comfort.

But that’s not the natural experience of surfing. The beauty of surfing, the allure of surfing, the addiction of surfing is the chaos. The ocean is wild and raw and unpredictable. It’s rips and backwash and wedges and peaks.

It’s hours spend monitoring and analysing and observing and guestimating to try to put yourself at the right place, at the right time amoungst all those confluences of swell and tide and winds and sand and crowd to score a single great wave.

Surfers are seeker of novelty, the perfect is boring. Give us the wedges of the Wedge, the ledges of the Island, the wash throughs of Pipe over the man made same same lines of a Slater wave tub.

So I kick at the lines on the ground as I pass, a feeble and farcical attempt to delay the relentless march of civility and order and comfort. No give me convenience or give me death. Give me chaos instead.

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