Toonalook Celebrates Border Re-Opening
A vibrant and pulsating Carnivale atmosphere has transformed the normally sleepy East Coast hamlet of Toonalook practically beyond recognition, as the border between Queensland and NSW re-opens today.
And while those at the wheel of their Sunshine-State-number-plated Hiace, VW Transporter and Mitsubishi Express vans have good reason to smile as they head south, their joi-de-vivre pales in comparison to the folk of Toonalook, who have been patiently awaiting the return of their surfing brothers and sisters ever since the Palaszczuk government applied a hard closure to the border in August, and who have spent the last week in a frenzy of activity, ranging from working bees to clear the foreshore of unsightly Lantana, to readying themselves to throw ‘party of the year/decade/century’.
And as Tuesday dawned and the vanguard of the Queensvanders turned off the highway in the direction of Toona, the road – lined with residents cheering and applauding, some unashamedly weeping with joy – was already awash in tickertape, with chairman of the welcoming committee, Baz Cornell, gracefully and exuberantly dancing down the street ahead of the lead vehicle.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this looks remarkably like that iconic frame grab from that old Movietone footage from Sydney when peace was declared in 1945,” an eyewitness was heard to say, by way of convenient exposition for readers failing to bridge the tenuous pop-culture connection with the illustration above.
Indeed, as visitors filtered into the Toona Point carpark, they found themselves greeted with the most welcome and unusual sight of a totally empty lineup, head-high and eminently surfable.
“Our interstate friends have got some catching up to do,” said local longboarder Donna Winkfield as she, along with several other volunteers strained to raise the giant AFL-style crepe-paper ‘WELCOME BACK’ banner to a vertical position in time for the first visitors to burst through as they ran down the track to the jump rock.
“The committee has voted unanimously for us locals to stay out of the water for a week or so. I mean, we’ve had our fill, and if there’s one thing a keen local surfer knows, it’s how to be satisfied with a winter’s worth of waves under his or her belt. So we’re all more than happy to hang back and cheer.
“My only regret is we couldn’t convince the RFS to do that water salute thing they do for airplanes on the tarmac sometimes – you, know, two firetrucks either side using their water cannons to create a giant, festive arc.
“We almost had them over the line, but Baz was just too eager to operate one of the water cannons, and I think the RFS chief got a bit spooked.”
“It’s been a hectic few days getting everything ready. Hubby was up ‘til all hours scrubbing slippery algae off the jump rock with a toothbrush by torchlight; the reconfigured lines in the carpark have barely had time to dry, but we’ve managed to squeeze a few more bays in there; and hearing those primary school choir angels sing so sweetly just then, you wouldn’t believe how shit 'You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings' sounded in rehearsal yesterday.
“Talk about ‘it’ll be alright on the night!’, but we got there, and it’s all been worth it.”
Perhaps the most touching incident, in an emotionally charged day of gestures large and small, was the moment mid-afternoon when ginger-haired five-year old Annabel Eastough nervously approached renowned influencer – lithe and tanned 22-year old Rachel Brownlee, visiting from Mermaid Beach – and presented her with a posy of nasturtiums plucked from the garden. “omg. too cute @toona. heaven. all the feels. xoxo,” posted Brownlee in her signature lower-case style, accompanying a photo of said blooms scattered artfully at her feet.
And as we file this dispatch, it appears the grand gesture of a fire-truck water salute may yet provide the crowning glory to Tuesday’s festival of visitation, as we are receiving unconfirmed reports of an RFS vehicle hastening towards Toona point with a demonstrably gleeful Barry Cornell manning the water cannon yelling, “Surprise, ya Caaarrnts”.
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley are illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and writer Gra Murdoch. It has recently been written of their work: “fictitious tales about a fictitious place and its bullshit fictitious characters are cringeworthy to say the least.” And that’s one of the better reviews.