Nature has provided a beach of golden sand that extends for miles along the Gold Coast to grace the border of the deep blue sea. Adjacent is a long, flat, strip of land before the rise to spectacular heights of Mt Tamborine in the hinterland. Nurture, in the form of the local Council and the will of the people, has conspired to provide a facility along the Esplanade at Burleigh that would be the envy of any community that cares about ALL its people. It encompasses a road, a broad greenway, a shared path and finally the entrances to the beach and sea beyond.
From dawn to dusk the environment is utilised by waves of exercisers. Firstly there is the Esplanade itself, a road that allows access from the sprawling urban landscape behind so that exercisers can transport their various ‘kits’ and 'kids'. Whether it is surfers and their boards or mums with their strollers there is adequate parking and space for all. Not only is the road the access way for successive users it is also the first of the exercise paths.
Early morning is the time for the serious cyclists, the bunches of predominantly male lycra-clad, Tour de France wannabes getting their workout before a day at the office on their expensive speedster bikes flashing along at a good 40kph. The more sedate cyclists, upright with their baskets ahead and their children seated behind, come later but they mostly use the wonderful wide shared path that extends the length of the Esplanade.
Between the road and the beach is the promenade, a combination of wide shared path, and extensive greenway dotted with trees that provide much needed shade as the temperature starts to climb throughout the day. This is the domain of the walkers and joggers, skateboarders and dog-walkers. The first couple of hours after sunrise has the working mums keeping in trim before they drop off their offspring at day care and dash to work. They run behind their baby buggies, casting anxious glances at their watches, conscious of their deadlines as well as their waistlines.
Soon the space is awash with activity. The silver walkers step out for a brisk justification for a much earned coffee at Burleigh Heads. Along the way they stop at the exercise stations to stretch muscles seldom used otherwise. There are a plethora of such exercise stations – no need to spend money on expensive equipment at home, it’s all provided free, or at least through their rates.
Hundreds of dog walkers, runners, cyclers, grace the path day and night and not a dog turd to be seen. I think it’s because someone so careless of the needs of others that they would allow their animal to soil a place used by thousands, especially the children, would be roundly condemned and because, when such a wonderful facility is provided, the people look after it with pride.
It doesn’t stop there. There are playgrounds, water stations, toilets, shelters, free barbeques and seating, shaded tables and benches where birthday parties are held – no need to book there are so many. Exercise classes, tai chi and women’s boxing, meditators and markets are there as well.
All this before you even arrive at the beach and sea which provide another realm of activity. Surfers always, but also kayakers, rowers (on windless days), long distance swimmers and paddleboarders, surf lifesavers and kite surfers, all sharing with whales, dolphins and wildlife.
The place is alive. The place is loved. There’s something for people of all ages and fitness levels. It is a place for cars and cycles, for old and young, for the disabled and the fit, for animal lovers and loners. It is what a community asset should be, a place where everyone is catered for, where inclusivity is the watchword.
No wonder we want to escape there from the winter of discontent, soon to be battleground, that will be the Esplanade on our own doorstep. Where the watchword of Waiheke's Local Board will be ‘exclude’ and include is out.