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Is The Old School Really Dying?

By Todd Maguire on January 24, 2013 in Other

Photo: Dean Blackwell

Once upon a time there were two little boys who were the best of friends. They lived in a little beachside hamlet and had great times together. School was a bit of a drag but with salt water running through their veins, the two boys spent endless hours swimming, snorkelling and surfing at the small beach near their home. The two little ones never wanted for much. They were as happy as Larry. This was Australia and life was good.

The little tackers lived in seventh heaven, convinced this bliss would never disappear. But as they reached their teens, they noticed their little paradise was slowly starting to change for the worse. Still, the pair remained wide-eyed, accepting these new challenges in life.

Then things really started to alter. The secret of their delightful surrounds was out. People from afar stumbled across their little piece of paradise and began moving there in droves. It was a different type of person they were now seeing in the street and the two boys became alarmed.

The changes didn’t stop. The row of shops boasting two milk bars and a fish ‘n’ chip shop was wiped out to make way for progress. Seemingly overnight the suburb was overcome by the people’s need for coffee and the beachside strip suddenly sported an assortment of cafes. You couldn’t even get a Chiko Roll to eat, let alone a good old hamburger with beetroot juices running down your hands.

Subsequently, the two boys travelled to distant lands to broaden their horizons, through the Pacific and onto the mother country via the Americas. It was an epic journey. On their triumphant return they had grand stories to tell and breathtaking photographs to prove their worth. They realised that even though the world offered a plethora of new and exciting experiences, they definitely lived in one of the best places on the planet.

As the two friends charged through the third decade of their lives the new breed continued with the facelift of the seaside suburb. One day the iconic local pub closed its doors for good and was converted into apartments. The two friends decided there was no use crying over spilt milk despite the sight of grown men weeping in the streets.

As time rolled on the two boys became family men, bringing up their kids the best they could. The beachside suburb was still one of the finest, but with the constant influx of new ideas, new people, metered parking and new rules, the shine was slowly beginning to tarnish.

As a direct poke in the eye with a blunt stick to our wartime heroes, the local RSL became the latest casualty. The community had totally lost direction. Particularly at 6pm each evening when members were no longer encouraged to face to the west to remember our fallen heroes. Very un-Australian. Was this the final straw of the demise of a flourishing coastal suburb? Certainly not – there was far worse to come.

The final blow was delivered swiftly and with malice. One day after a good long surf, the two lifelong friends made their way to the local cake shop for a post surf meat pie. When they discovered that this was the last week of trading for both the cake shops in the area the two friends were aghast. They could no longer buy a pie in their beachside suburb. What had the world become?

The two friends had grown up enjoying the simple, honest things that their little slice of Australia was able to dish out. But when you can’t get your hands on a Chiko Roll, a traditional hamburger with beetroot, a tap beer over the bar, a meat pie or an Anzac day game of two-up, where will all the so-called ‘progress’ end?

As luck and determination would have it, the two friends now escape to another coastal hideaway for their fix of childhood spoils. If word gets out the same thing will happen as it did to the original little hamlet. At any rate, they will not let the cat out of the bag as to where this place may be. Because some things just have to stay Australian – old school and new school.


  1. Great story. Sounds like Cronulla but it could be anywhere.

    As I was reading it I was thinking of all those things, institutions closing down and picturing them in my mind. Used to take $2 in my leg rope and get a pie and Moove half way through the day, 6-7 hours of surfing, or if it was really cold a big serve of hot chips.

    Posted by: Bud Litel | January 29, 2013, 10:33 AM |

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  2. I too seem to not be able to find what i thought were the finer things in my life.
    I miss being able to call vegemite australian…the world is travelling way too fast for me…….:(

    Posted by: Lynda | January 29, 2013, 10:56 AM |

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  3. I too miss having a hot chiko roll after an earlie @ North Bondi!

    Posted by: Bondiwahine | January 29, 2013, 12:33 PM |

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  4. has the North Bondi RSL stopped the evening Ode or is this just a flourish of the author?

    Posted by: Andrew Darling Point | January 29, 2013, 3:11 PM |

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    • I think this article relates to Bronte Andrew…

      Posted by: Dan Hutton | January 29, 2013, 3:24 PM |

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  5. …same with Mackenzie’s Beach..’twas a deep secret – used to get down there real early, grab the sun and gone by 10. You could take the dog too. It’s still a bit secret, but too well known for me,(sob) now.

    Posted by: starlee ford | January 29, 2013, 5:51 PM |

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  6. Even though i was kicked out of Nth Bondi through somthing simillar, I am digging my heels in here at Clovelly no matter how many Cafes come my way. Atleast for the next 10 years anyway.

    Posted by: Ben Dawson | January 30, 2013, 2:31 PM |

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  7. Affluence breeds a demand for luxury items and anything that might set one part from the “pack”; anything to prove how much money and taste one has – Botox, spa treatments, designer clothes, expensive cafes, gourmet bread and cakes. Hamburgers and the sticky floor style pub (with the mandatory bitzer dog, sleeping in the corner) just doesnt cut it sweetie. Unless its a gourmet burger and an indulged pedigree dog!

    Posted by: Pearlie | January 30, 2013, 2:43 PM |

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