Nov 26 2011

Has the white shoe brigade gone bare foot?

The white shoe brigade has become the bare foot brigade

Just when I was starting to like Port Douglas comes an incident that reminds me of everything I dislike about the place.

It started off as a great day. I was up at 6am and went for a walk along the beach. I walked back along some of the residential streets and checked out some great architecture. Low rise, tropical, open-air fabulous places. I loved it.

Then we lazed around the pool for a couple of hours. So far, a whole morning with no rain. What more could you ask?

Then we went out for lunch, and that’s where it changed.

We decided on Salsa. A local institution. Even the driver from Cairns had recommended it, so of course we had to try it out.

We turned up and asked for a table only to be told they were booked out. But, we were reassured, there was one table they could fit us in to. It was back from the street and right next to the bar, but we took it anyway. Everything was very nice, and we were brought the drinks we’d ordered prior to deciding on the food.

Then two tables in front of us were vacated. We looked at each other. “I’ll ask if we can move” I said. So I did. Very politely. “Excuse me” I said to the waitress “Are those tables rebooked? If not, could we please move?”

She was very nice and said she’d check. I watched her ask the maitre d’, who rolled her eyes at what she seemed to deem an unreasonable request. Our waitress persisted, then came back to us and said it was ok, we could move. So there we were, sitting right near the front of the restaurant with a nice breeze and a great view across the park to the Coral Sea.

“This is better” I said and looked around, and spotted them right in front of us. Two old blokes, who looked like they had a cupboard full of white shoes but for some reason they’d decided not to wear them because they both had bare foot.

I don’t know if it was the bare feet, or that they were sitting at the best table in the restaurant, or the decanted bottle of red. Maybe it was a combination of all three, but it just screamed “wanker”.

I know you can get wankers anywhere, and it’s not just a Port Douglas phenomenon. And I know it says more about me than it does about anything else that I immediately jump to blaming the entire town for the appearance of two people I haven’t even met or spoken to. They might have been very nice, and unassuming for all I know.

Port Douglas is inexorably linked in my mind with the White Shoe Brigade of the 1980s and the corruption of politics in Queensland. Yet it’s a beautiful place and as different from the overdevelopment and high rise of the Gold Coast as is possible.

So I promise I’ll calm down and give it a chance. After all, I am on holiday in the tropics, which really is my favourite place to be.

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