Mike's Australia by Mike Dixon - HTML preview
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You'll find them everywhere. Football teams have them and so do surf clubs, bowls clubs, returned servicemen (RSL) and many other organisations, large and small. They are an Australian institution and most welcome visitors.
I belong to a surf club. Like most surf clubs it has bars and restaurants. That's one of the ways we make money for our main activity, which is lifesaving.
Those bronzed young people, patrolling our beaches, are volunteers. They joined their clubs at an early age and received instruction from older members. It is no coincidence that many lifesavers on Asian beaches are Australian trained.
So, if you want an introduction to the Aussie way of life and you are a surfer, you could hardly do better than visit a surf club. Age is not a consideration. There's no shortage of grey-haired surfers on our beaches and plenty of teenagers. The sport is almost as popular amongst women as it is with men.
If you are not a surfer that is not a barrier. Go along and have a meal. You'll be asked to sign the visitor's book to comply with the licensing authorities but no more is involved. In many clubs, most of the staff are volunteers. You will be served by lifesavers and surfers.
My part of Australia, which is the Gold Coast, is home to some of the world's top ranking competitors. Go to the south of the strip for the best action. Despite its name, Surfers Paradise is not the main hot spot. That honour goes to Coolangatta where the incoming waves run along the beach.
On a good day at Coolangatta, you can stand on the shore and get a clear view of the surfers as they travel down the tubes created by the breaking waves. It's a great place for photographs. Major international surfing competitions are held there and news teams gather from all around the globe (photo).
Okay. I’m showing a strong bias towards surfing. So, I’d better tell you about my other club. It’s a bowls club and there are lots of them in Australia. I don’t play bowls. That doesn’t matter. My camera club meets at the bowls club. We use their facilities, including bars and restaurants. The photo is of an old-style bowls club. Mine is in a modern building and is huge in comparison.