It’s 28 degrees C. in Sydney as I’m typing this, minus 2 in Paris, where it’s been snowing. This is one of those times of the year when seasonal differences between my two favourite cities are at their greatest.
It’s high summer Down Under, and Aussies love a day at the beach. Today Manly Beach was about as crowded as it gets, when school’s out, the temperatures are high, and there’s not a cloud in the sky.
Free to All and Enjoyed by All
Clive was appalled the first time he visited my former hometown in the U.S., a small suburb on the Connecticut coast.
What set him off? The guardhouse at the entrance to the town beach.
“The beach is only for town residents,” I said.
“You’re telling me they pay someone to sit there and keep people out?”
“What if you live one town inland?”
Too bad. You can pay a daily entrance fee, but you certainly can’t come and go as you please. The beaches up and down the coast are, for all practical purposes, private.
Someone Has to Pay
The rationale on the U.S. east coast beaches with which I’m familiar is that local taxes pay for maintenance, so only residents are allowed access.
I’m not a beach fanatic, but grew up going to the New Jersey shore, where my father bought daily beach passes for himself, me, and my brother. In my single days, I rented a summer house at the Jersey shore with a group of young professionals, and we paid hundreds of dollars for season beach passes.
Paying to go to the beach is also required at the beach in Maine where my late husband and I took our family every summer.
Australia Does It Better
The idea of charging people to go to the beach does not exist in Australia. Australia has figured out how to manage and support public places, and the beach is a public place (as it is in England).
Clive and I happen to be Manly rate-payers (taxpayers), but we don’t have exclusive access to Manly Beach, nor would any Aussies think they should have exclusive access. We can go to any beach in the country without paying for the privilege, and the same applies to tourists.
People clearly travelled from many parts of Sydney, as well as the world, to be here today. It’s free, and I think that’s the way it should be.
Filed under: Sydney |