Challenges of living on the border

Image - Google Maps
Image - Google Maps Google Maps

SINCE 1859 the State border separating Tweed Heads and Coolangatta has presented a unique array of challenges to numerous generations.

Differing time zones and laws stand out as obvious inconveniences, but the implications of the Queensland/NSW border extend as far as technological glitches and even provide glimpses into the demographics of the region today.

Here we present some of the lesser-known stories stemming from that significant line and its place on the land. Reporter David Stuart examines the issue.

Saving on daylight

TWEED Heads South auto-electrician and outspoken critic of daylight saving time Paul Young detests having to operate with two clocks over the summer months.

Most of Mr Young's criticisms of daylight saving are unprintable in a family newspaper. "I think Queensland are the ones with the brains," he said.

"We don't need to touch the bloody clock

"I just can't figure it out, what's the use?"

Last year Mr Young took matters into his own hands and went around to rally support for Tweed businesses to run on Queensland time.

"What are we (messing) with the time for?" he said. "It normally makes two hours difference in our freight time and it mucks up our afternoon deliveries."

Although this year he did not start a time rebellion, he said something still needed to happen to end the madness.

One of Mr Young's suggestions was properties with the 07 telephone area code could be run on the Queensland clock and 02 numbers on NSW time.

"Why do we have to be subjected to someone telling us you've got to get up an hour earlier? It's bloody hard here on the border."

A bus timetable on the southern side of the border with times in Queensland time, but no mention of DST.

In a flap

LOOK in the scrub turkey nests on Greenmount Hill, Coolangatta, and you may find traces of red tape.

Gold Coast City councillor Chris Robbins said the border had made relocating the native birds more difficult than if it was further north.

"We did get some permission to relocate the birds, but we had to monitor them," Cr Robbins said.

"If we removed them on our side of the border and Tweed didn't, literally we would just clear the way for birds breeding on the other side of the border to move in."

Letting grass grow

WHERE state and council borders are concerned, even minor public works can become quite complicated.

For example, take mowing the grass on public land. On the border the Gold Coast City Council mows the grass from the border monument near Twin Towns east to the Rainbow Bay shops.

Then each council mows its own side of the border on Boundary St up to Pt Danger.

A matter of money

BUSINESSES operating in the twin towns can, with a bit of homework, use the border to their advantage.

Tweed Chamber of Commerce president Rory Curtis said different legislation drew businesses to a certain side of the border.

"It's sometimes cheaper to do business in Queensland with payroll tax for example," Mr Curtis said.

"There's so many issues and it varies from business to business."

He said there were complications that extended beyond operating in two time zones.

"The classic current 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."

Monumental history

THE eight-metre-high border monument was designed by artist Rodney Spooner and is said to symbolise 'an inviting and unobstructed doorway between the two states'.

With references to traditional surveying techniques the design also pays homage to the volcanic history of the region.

The monument was officially opened on January 21, 2001 to commemorate the centenary of the Federation of Australia.

History of the border

THE border for the newly-established state north of NSW was described in The Queensland Government Gazette on December 10, 1859.

"As lies northward of a line commencing on the sea coast at Point Danger, in latitude about twenty-eight degrees eight minutes south and following the range thence which divides the waters of the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence Rivers from those of the Logan and Brisbane Rivers...".

The somewhat random-looking border between was created from specific instructions.

They stated they should be "a succession of straight lines of as great a length as practicable without altogether departing from the watershed summit of the Range".

It was not until 1863 that two men, Francis Edward Roberts and Isaiah Rowlands, set off west from Pt Danger.

They carved their initials into a rock to mark FER and R, the letters visible on the border monument today.

Also visible on the monument today is a description of the indigenous Australians who made the survey possible.

"Men of the Nganduwal people were essential to the success of the border survey in the most difficult terrain of the Qld/NSW line," the plaque reads.

"The Tweed River Aborigines were engaged in brush cutting, chaining, and supplying the survey party from Terranora on the Terranora creek, the only European settlement in Pt Danger at the time."

Roberts and Rowlands finished their surveys in 1865 and 1866 respectively.

Walking the line

TWEED Heads surveyor Barrie Green walks across the border every morning on his way to work.

Mr Green said he thought most people would miss the more subtle markings that indicated where the border was.

"If I wasn't a surveyor I wouldn't have noticed it," he said.

"With the Albury-Wodonga border, you've got the river."

He said it would have been easier to follow a river that the watershed.

"The only thing I can get is that Queensland wanted the beaches from this headland," Mr Green said.

"But why they didn't choose the Currumbin headland or Burleigh headland, I don't know."

Getting rid of an eyesore

THE border today is largely invisible, but there was a time when large barbed-wire fences marked a very clear line. Daily News historian Di Millar explained the fences were erected to quarantine a pest from the north.

"They were there to stop the cattle tick getting from Queensland to NSW," Mrs Millar said. "They found them in North Queensland and they thought by putting the tick border it would stop them.

"Then they put the no-man's land section and it had a bridge across it and it was supposed to be a buffer zone."

She said the highly visible border was not popular with residents and did not even stop the spread of ticks. "It had overhead bridges and gates at various places along it and it was an inconvenience and an eyesore.

"It looked ugly and it was just a pain.

"It was ridiculous because Tweed and Coolangatta were considered one town and it took years and years for them to decide what to do about it."

Another perspective

SOUTH-Sea Islanders who were 'black-birded', or taken forcibly from their islands to Queensland to produce sugar cane, saw the border from another perspective.

At the time there was no sugar industry in NSW and they could escape their 'owners' by crossing the border and making it three miles south of it where they could not be taken back.

This resulted in masses of skilled workers that helped develop the sugar industry after corn and opium had failed as cash crops.

New technology

iPHONES have an auto time function that allow users to scoot around the country and let the cellular towers update their time automatically as they move from one time zone to another.

But along the border this can be extremely frustrating for users whose time changes incessantly without any hint to which time it is displaying.

An Optus spokesman suggested that iPhone users in Tweed and Coolangatta turned off this function.

"May be best off setting it manually as it may change back and forth depending on which tower (it is)," the spokesman said.

On the edge of danger

POINT Danger Lookout is interesting not only because of the stunning vistas offered, but because it actually straddles both states.

Gift shop volunteer Rhonda Guthrie has worked there for a decade and struggles to calculate how many times she crosses the border.

"We are probably the only premises that has the border running through it," Ms Gutherie said.

A no-nonsense woman, Ms Guthrie said the border had no novelty value for her.

"No, it's just life. It happens when you live in this part of the country. You just accept it," she said.

"When they ask us a question we have to make sure they understand the time difference; so we are so aware of it.

"If you live here and you are arranging an electrician you have to ask them that."

Even when she is not at work Ms Guthrie can be found on the border in her home - on the Queensland side.

School rules

DESPITE education departments being state-based, school students often travel across the border to attend classes.

An Education Queensland spokesperson said people from NSW were free to attend classes on the other side of the border.

"If you live in Tweed Heads you can apply to go to school in Queensland unless they have an enrollment management plan," he said.

It is not clear exactly how many students travel across the border to study.

A NSW Department of Education spokeswoman said specific numbers could not be shared with the Daily News due to confidentiality policies.

Topics:  border life

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