Sole Sister

Cruising in the single lane


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California Dreamin’

When people talk about the 1950s they don’t do it in the nudge-nudge, wink-wink “if you remember you weren’t there” kind of way they talk about the 60s. From my memory the ‘50s were rather more boring. I can remember them! But I was a kid then and boredom is the constant companion of kids.

IMG_1257From my adult perspective, and with the help of historical context, the Queensland Art Gallery’s current California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way exhibition shows why the ‘50s weren’t really so boring. For our parents it would have been a welcome respite from the hardships of the war years and, as the exhibition shows, a time to enjoy some of the fruits that emerged out of the turbulence.

The exhibition exemplifies the period when Art Deco, which flourished after the First World War, segued into Mid-Century Modern. As Art Deco was a product of industrialisation leading up to the 1914-1918 war, Mid-Century Modern reflected the cultural influences and industrial developments leading up to and following the Second World War.

IMG_1248IMG_1249IMG_1252IMG_1255In design terms American Mid-Century Modern, in which Australia shared, benefited from exciting new materials such as moulded and shaped plywood, fibreglass, wire mesh and synthetic resins. And the refugees who flocked from war-torn Europe took with them the design influences that the war had interrupted. Foremost among these was the German Bauhaus School that combined crafts and the fine arts.

Objects by the acclaimed designers Charles and Ray Eames, Henry Dreyfuss, Dorothy Wright Liebes and Raymond Loewy all feature, while the household names Levi Strauss and Mattel are profiled through displays of fashion and children’s toys. Many of those designs are still commonplace today – just visit Ikea! And who can believe Barbie is over 50?

The design aesthetic which coalesced into Californian style emphasised taking the indoors outdoors and creating products to complement the lifestyle. The work of one of architecture’s greats, Frank Lloyd Wright, whose life spanned the period, had been greatly influenced by Japanese architecture, and was an early exponent of linking the interior with nature.

IMG_1251IMG_1253IMG_1250IMG_1247-001IMG_1256With a climate very similar to California it’s no wonder Queenslanders took to Californian style so readily.


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Main attraction

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The northen end of the Gold Coast – Southport and Main Beach – is an old stamping ground. Or should that be stomping grounds as my years there coincided with the start of the ‘60s pop revolution which included surfing music and the stomp dance craze?

After graduating from high school I started a journalism cadetship at the bi-weekly Gold Coast Bulletin. Covering the rapidly emerging pop scene was part of my “beat”. Attending craze-du jour “stomp” dances at Main Beach, Southport, where Little Patty’s “He’s My Blonde Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy” and other  surfing-inspired hits blared out over the PA, was part of the job. Main Beach was also the location of two of my school holiday jobs – one as the “post mistress” a small agency attached to a convenience store and another making hamburgers (the good old-fashioned kind with beetroot) for hungry beach goers at a pre-fast-food era burgers café.  No high rises silhouetted the skyline in those days.

With another generation of our family now north Gold Coasters I returned to a much-changed Main Beach for Christmas. The old convenience store and post office agency are long gone, as is the burger café, replaced by the trendy Tedder Avenue and many high-rise resorts. But Main Beach, The Spit and Narrowneck retain their allure and it’s impossible to tire of looking at that azure expanse of ocean and drifting off at night to the soothing sound of crashing waves. I particularly love Main Beach’s location with views to the Nerang River and Broadwater, down the length of coastline to Coolangatta and with the Hinterland and Border Ranges creating the backdrop, and its many Norfolk Pines gracing streets and the foreshore. It’s so close to the glitter strip of Surfers Paradise but blisfully quieter.

IMG_1208IMG_1186IMG_1215The Gold Coast has many excellent food and craft markets along its length and the northern end does not miss out. The Village Markets, acclaimed in various fashion and lifestyle media as one of the best in Queensland, sets up at the Paradise Point Parklands on the last Saturday of every month. Being the last Saturday before Christmas a visit and leisurely browse offered excellent gift buying opportunities.

IMG_1163IMG_1164IMG_1174IMG_1171IMG_1170IMG_1167IMG_1165A beachside holiday is never complete without a daily morning stroll along the beach, catching a bit of exercise and enjoying the random flotsam and jetsam stranded in the sand by the ebb and flow of the tide. The Main Beach strip bestows special perspectives as it captures the high rises of Surfers in the retreating waves.

IMG_1193IMG_1204IMG_1199IMG_1203IMG_1207The northern Gold Coast in 2013-2014 still rocks!

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