Planning on spending the weekend at the Northern Beaches? Better sort out some non-public transport options.
I am definitely not a morning person. So when at 6:30am on a Thursday morning, and my slumber is disturbed by the rumbling of my mobile phone’s ear-shatteringly loud alarm system, I am annoyed. I don’t have to be at uni until 9:00 am, however, to cater for the unpredictable length of my journey into Sydney’s CBD, I am forced to get out of bed and begin my daily haggle with Sydney’s bus system.
Will I be stranded at Manly Vale bus stop, waiting for buses that seem to adhere to their own schedule and not to the timetable set out in front of me? Will I be forced to endure the endless traffic that typically consumes Military Road on a weekday morning while being sandwiched between my equally unimpressed fellow passengers? Am I wearing the right shoes for my half hour walk to Central Station I have to endure because no bus near my house goes further than Wynyard station even though I don’t live in an obscure spot?
If only there was some sort of alternative to all of this…
If only there was some mode of transport that could avoid the traffic and would take me directly to my destination in half the time…
If only I could sleep in for half an hour longer….
If only the Northern Beaches would catch up to the rest of Sydney and finally build a train line!
The idea has been floated many times in the past, even quite recently following an announcement in July by the NRMA, outlining early plans to build a railway that will lead to Manly. Upon hearing this news, I remember internally rejoicing at the convenience that was sure to follow. I would now be able to travel anywhere in Sydney with relative ease, without needing to resort to other less efficient and more time-consuming methods of transport.
However, it seemed that my optimistic outlook left me very much in the minority when it came to the opinion of my fellow Northern Beaches residents. In many ways, the announcement caused what could only be described as region-wide outcry. My Facebook newsfeed erupted with objections to the proposed train line. Even Manly’s mayor, Jean Hay professed to The Daily Telegraph, “It will be over my dead body… Even if I have to tie myself to the railway tracks.”
But why is this? Why would anybody have a problem with being able to freely explore Sydney in a new and convenient way? This would allow people to come in and out of the Northern Beaches whenever they pleased with ease, so why would anyone object?
There is a strong sense of patriotism amongst the general populace of the Northern Beaches and it’s extremely easy to see why. The Northern Beaches is an area of Sydney that differs significantly from any other, boasting its unique beachside landscapes. It is known Sydney-wide for the carefree, slow-moving, leisure-driven lives that its inhabitants live every day. This is why it’s often a holiday destination for outsiders. It is even home to the fictional beachside paradise of Summer Bay, the setting of Australian soap opera Home & Away.
“You need a bloody passport to get over the bridge,” says 26-year-old Marissa Karageorgis from Sydney’s Southerland Shire. While she’s obviously joking, it does give an insight into the culture of segregation that the Northern Beaches has and it seems the locals want to keep it that way. Anonymous pensioner residing in Curl Curl said adding a train line will, “open the gates to all the ruffians and hooligans from out West. I don’t want to see my home flooded by people that don’t belong here.”
One might even say that the fear of opening the area up, potentially compromising their lifestyles, echoes resident and ex-prime minister Tony Abbott’s ‘Stop the Boats’ mentality, but on a local scale.
Although perhaps a far more extreme stance on the matter, this is truly reflective of the patriotism felt by many of those residing within the Northern Beaches. It is extremely likely that this quiet beachside peninsula would be disturbed by an influx of people hoping to share in the enjoyment of such an area.
Considering this, it could be argued that the Northern Beaches’ beautiful natural wonders are something that should be shared by everyone and that Sydney’s wider population has every right to experience everything the area has to offer.
Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that the Northern Beaches itself is part of an even larger Sydney-wide community and that everyone has the right to share and enjoy every part of this beautiful city we live in. Building a train line that connects us to this wider community would not only bring us all closer together but would help us once and for all burst this bubble that we call the Northern Beaches. – Photo and story by Jameel Khan