To Beer or Not To Beer? That is the Question
Whether we like it or not, Australians are synonymous with drinking. We’re a good-time, “She’ll be right” kind of nation, for whom enjoying a cold VB is a fundamental human right. Sadly, however, not all humans can handle their grog and some are downright disrespectful after a couple (or dozens) of cold ‘uns.
It’s a tale as old as time… soccer fans in England and Wales chug their drinks during intervals because drinking “within view of the pitch” has been banned since 1985 (it doesn’t apply to real sports like rugby and cricket), Swedes have to meticulously plan boozy nights and purchase alcohol from government owned retailers with strict regulations, while the US famously banned alcohol for over ten years!
And our beautiful Eastern Suburbs are no exception. Thanks to drunken idiots taking the piss (cheers, Coogee-gate 2016), alcohol in most beaches and parks is prohibited. Earlier this year Randwick Council said, “It is disappointing we have to take such a strong stance, but we need to reassure the community that they can feel safe.”
Upon the request of NSW Police, Randwick Council imposed additional bans on public holidays this Christmas and New Year “to reduce the potential for alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour in known hotspots”.
Council believes “the absence of alcohol restrictions in itself becomes an ‘attracter’ to Council’s parks and reserves, making these places the preferred destination for mass gatherings promoted through social media, as was the case at Coogee last Christmas Day.”
Of 33 parks listed on Waverley Council’s website, only two don’t specifically prohibit alcohol. A spokesperson explained they want “everyone to enjoy the holiday season in a safe and responsible manner… We encourage everyone to use our parks and beaches without consuming alcohol.”
But is this over-policing, or a sad necessity? Many business owners oppose these bans, whereas other locals find it necessary for public safety. Personally, I feel I can be trusted to drink (vaguely) responsibly and clean up after myself, so why should I be punished? Unfortunately, however, social media (and idiotic humans) has undeniably upped the ante on public holidays.
But do we need a permanent ban? Is year-round prohibition protecting or restricting locals? Whatever your opinion, let’s look at the logistics. Where can and can’t you consume alcohol? And are there any public areas where you can guzzle down a sausage sizzle, listen to Triple J, and enjoy some beers this ‘Straya Day?
Throughout Bondi, Bronte, Tamarama, Dover Heights, Vaucluse, Queen’s Park, and Waverley, all beaches and most parks are alcohol free. The only parks where alcohol prohibition is not specified are Barracluff Park (North Bondi) and Dudley Page Reserve (Dover Heights). Both parks are regularly hired for events and sporting activities so they aren’t always fully open to the public (basically, don’t count on them for Australia Day).
All beaches and adjacent parks prohibit alcohol year-round. The good news is you can usually enjoy a drink in Burrows Park, Bundock Park, and Gordons Bay (Clovelly), as well as Jack Vanny Reserve and Arthur Byrne Reserve (Maroubra). Cromwell Park (Malabar) and Yarra Recreation Reserve (La Perouse) have the same rules. The bad news is that even these areas are now alcohol free on Australia Day.
The responsible consumption of alcohol is permitted within most of the park during opening hours. However, it is mainly families that enjoy a quiet drink with a picnic on Australia Day, and management reserves the right to declare any part of the Parklands an alcohol-free zone and will remove anyone behaving inappropriately. Good.
So where does that leave us? If you want to celebrate ‘Straya Day locally with booze, host a barbie or head to a pub. Thanks to the 15 tonnes of garbage left in Coogee last Christmas, you ain’t partying on public grounds.
But let’s see this as glass-half-full. Most of the year, there are ten parks you can visit for a few cheeky beers. Just behave, steer clear of social media, and for Pete’s sake clean up after yourself or you’ll put the kibosh on it for everyone!