Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The border switch

There are several towns in Australia which exist in different states and territories but have become glued together over time. Tweed Heads and Coolangatta are two of them.

Courtesy of Peter Cokley
The proper definition of an Australian border, it is acknowledged, is a fraught science. A physical sense of separation is easily engendered by landscape, such as a powerful symbol of a sweeping, winding river even if the towns are minutes apart by road. 

In the case of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta there is only a dotted line which can't be seen by the human eye, although several symbolic features mark the boundary including the first runway at Coolangatta airport.  

The New South Wales - Queensland border was once a symbol of pride, its reach was reflected in the titles of several newspapers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries such as the Tweed and Brunswick Advocate and the Southern Queensland RecordThe Tweed Heads & Coolangatta Star, and The Border Star.
 Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 
14 February 1942

State Records NSW 12951/8549


The border earned its own fence and gate.
Tweed Heads Historical Society S6-S204

This view shows the border gates and the gatekeeper's office when it was situated on the border across the road from the Tweed Heads Police Station. In the background is the pilot's boatshed situated on Jack Evans' Boat Harbour. In 1957 the gates were moved to South Tweed Heads" [The Changing Valley, p.19]. They no longer stand.

The border was also a celebrated feature of what was called souvenir glassware, or touristware:

All this has changed. The border gates have been reconstructed. From libraries to museums to sporting facilities, which all encourage healthy and enriched lives, the invisible border is now far more difficult to negotiate:
Challenges of living on the border

"The classic issue is that Tweed taxis cannot pick up passengers in Marine Pde (Coolangatta). It's a safety issue for people who want to get home."

Bad sports over border

"... Gold Coast City Council several years ago had begun charging Tweed residents for the use of its libraries, particularly the Coolangatta library."  


This statement was made in 2011, and echoed again recently:
Letters, Tweed Daily News, 18 February 2015, p.12

This was not the case for library patrons in the 1960s, when the border was invisible, but it is clear that it has been turned into an obstacle since. For example, the newspapers which straddle the border have not yet been digitised for Trove. The article shown above discussing the closure of The Border Star was found in a regional digitised newspaper far from the Queensland border, not the paper of the home towns concerned. Perhaps they have no champion in either state? The problem was recognised for the successor newspaper in October 1998: 
A wealth of information is contained in the files of the Daily News - which date back more than 100 years - but most Tweed residents cannot access them as they are located in Sydney or Brisbane. In an effort to improve this situation, the mayor has launched an appeal for funds to have the files recorded on CD Rom [sic] so they can be viewed in the Tweed. Council has opened a Community Heritage Trust Account with the view to raising an estimated $50,000 need to have the files recorded. [Tweed Link, 1996-1999 not available online].
The State Library of New South Wales is currently investigating the locations of those tantalising earlier newspapers, snippets of our history which may never come back. The border is holding its breath.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.