Summer is here in south-eastern Australia.
The temperatures in Adelaide have been in the high 30s and low 40s during December, the fire season is here and the firefighters battle the increasingly frequent bushfires. People are arriving on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula for their Xmas break, the holiday houses are being occupied, the boaties and their expensive boats are lining up on the Encounter Bay boat ramp to go tuna fishing, the days are long with daylight saving, and the beach is the place to go.
The light is harsh during the summer days, so photography is only possible very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon.
It is now difficult to photograph people on a beach in Australia due to the increasing hostility to “street photography” and parent’s fear about paedophiles stalking their children with cameras. This is a pity because the beach has traditionally been a public space of recreation and leisure that epitomises the personal liberties of Australia’s democratic society. The assumption that the beach is there for everyone to use was contested in the 2005 Cronulla race riots in Sydney
The beach is now a contested site. I only photograph people on the beach at a distance–they are situated within a beachscape, as it were.
Relaxed is the ethos of summer on the Fleurieu Peninsula: people are on holidays.The sea is the main reason for the Fleurieu Peninsula having become a resort. The ethos of relaxedness is based on the concept of the getaway, the restoration of youth by repeating what we did in our own youth. The sea is the main reason for the Fleurieu Peninsula having become a resort and, with the ever-increasing real estate investment, generational cycles of nostalgia keep the fantasy of the good times alive based around the boats, pools, cars, sun-decks, barbecues and local wine.
Australia recently experiencing a property boom with soaring demand for coastal residences and increased popularity of recreational boating and water sports. The demand is for new “playgrounds” to satisfy the “culture-ideology of consumerism”. The tourist marketing creates a fantasy: Adelaide has a great pleasure place to the south that has been a tourist attraction since the 19th century. It has as all the geographical variety an urban population could need for a change of pace: the placid waters of Encounter Bay, the rolling agriculture and pleasant hills with forest, and the wild southern ocean for fishing. The coastal life is a “boating playground” that promises a life of good times.
The reality of this kind of development is the suburbanisation of the beach zones which Hindmarsh Island exemplifies. The peninsula is increasingly, experienced as a chain of suburbs, a slightly scruffier, rundown version of what most holiday makers enjoy in their houses closer to the city. The development is designed to increase tourism visitation to the area through the development of resort facilities, holiday rental accommodation, boat rentals, shopping and hospitality facilities.