Summer Solstice: Crowdipper flourishes

January 5th, 2012
by Jo Law

This pentad began on January 1st, 2012. The first day on the first month of this year fell on a Sunday and this made the following Monday a public holiday. Many spent this warm and dry long weekend down by the seaside. Our overseas visitors ventured down to Austinmer beach on new year’s day and described the scene as ‘heaving’.

Flanked by the Escarpment the northern beaches of the Illawarra are poplular destinations for holiday makers. Residents of Western Sydney such as, Campbelltown and Camden, access the coast via Bulli pass, making Austinmer beach an ideal destination for a seaside sojourn. These geographical and transportation contingencies transform Austinmer beach into a location of cultural diversity. The steep climb to the Sublime Point lookout from Foothills Road at the beginning of Gibson’s track also attract its shares of families and hikers.

Originally part of North Bulli, Austinmer was settled in 1837 around which time land grants were made to and transferred between various individiuals. Captain Robert Marsh Westcott purchased an area of 300 arces of land in this area from Cornelius O’Brien and constructed his estate, Sidmouth, named after his birthplace in Devon, which the settlement was also known by until 1884. The place’s name changed to Austinmere with the opening of the Illawarra Coal Company and is said to be connected with one of the company’s board directors, Henry Austin. The opening of the railway station on Septmeber 1, 1887, left out the ending ‘e’ off in its signage, giving us its present spelling.

Coal was the primary product of Austinmer in the late 19th century. Asides from its ‘black diamond’ export, it was also known for its supplies of blackberries. After the mines’ closure in 1895, the area continued to develop into a health spa resort town and holiday destination. The 2007 Census reported the local population to be 2,211 and the 2011 house values range from 400,000 AUD to 1.6 million AUD.

2 Responses to “Summer Solstice: Crowdipper flourishes”

  1. 1 Overseas Visitor
    January 13th, 2012 at 17:18

    The OED tells us that the verb ‘heave’ in its principal meaning of ‘lifting, raising or bearing up’, and was first written down in Old English in Beowulf, Ic hond ond rond hebban mihte. Particularly pertinent to seaside scenes, by 1836 heave had come to mean the rhythmic rising and falling of the ocean, “The vessel rolled about on the heave of the sea.”

    But perhaps this particular sense of ‘heaving’ with its pejorative undertones is related to crowding so dense that it seemed to act, uncannily, as one entity. And, as Dr. Johnson tells us, to heave is of course also used to describe the “effort to vomit”.

    To your overseas visitors Austinmer beach was perhaps reminiscent of the crowded European beaches with which they were, no doubt, more familiar.

  2. 2 Jo Law
    January 13th, 2012 at 21:20

    The use of term ‘heaving’ to describe new year’s day at Austinmer Beach is just so apt. Though I didn’t see it this year, I was amongst this heaving scene last year. The experience was very much as OED describes it. I felt like one of the cells or molecules that made up a moving, rising mass. I, myself, am not un-used-to crowds but there is something about Austinmer Beach on new year’s day that somehow makes the whole beach appear to be one organism, alive and heaving.