Biking around Bleach*

This weekend was a feast of creativity and community. The Bleach* Festival spread its wings, delivering little bundles of whimsical wonders along the Gold Coast: Street parties, pop-up exhibitions, circus theatre, opera in the outdoors, a slide night, and a ten metre mullet that moves around the festival sites with the help of five puppeteers. Known as a Fish-out-of-water, this giant puppet is a reminder that it’s autumn and soon the mullet will leave the creeks to spawn at sea.

Bleach* is an annual event that was first held a couple of years ago on the southern Gold Coast. Now its reach has spread further north to Robina, Mudgeeraba and Paradise Point. This year’s festival started on 6th March and runs for seventeen days. Missing the opening weekend because we had to travel north to the cane fields for a wedding, we dived in to watch one of the performances. When I say dived in, I mean that literally.

A fascinating contemporary dance performance by “The Farm” called “Tide” took place over 48 hours from 3pm Friday until 3pm Sunday. Two men dressed in business suits set up an improvised office on a sandbar in the middle of Currumbin estuary. They stayed there for 48 hours. That’s right, day and night. Sometimes they danced for the passing SUPs, dragon boats, surf boats, ‘tinnies’ and swimmers. Other times they tried to sell the land their Climate Control Centre sits atop. This is art with a message.

On Saturday, we swam over to the sandbar and asked if we could look at the land. Having heard a radio interview with the performers I knew they were staying in character throughout the 48 hours. The office comprised a desk, two chairs, desktop computer, a filing cabinet, a lampstand, water cooler, a window and a front door. They apologised that we couldn’t use their front door just at the moment because the outgoing tide meant it had to stay locked. So we were invited to climb through the window, ducking our heads beneath the venetian blinds. The first “agent” we met was leaving with a newspaper under his arm as we arrived “…on my way to the bathroom”, he said.  I didn’t want to ask any more questions about that.

We did want to know more about the parcel of land they were selling. After shaking hands we apologised for not making an appointment and just “turning up”. Not at all concerned, the “agent” dressed in light grey business trousers, white business shirt and black tie, was only too happy to take us for an inspection. He waded us through the knee-deep water, further and further, talking about the interest there’d been in the property and assuring us that it’s not usually this wet. When the water reached just below our shoulders, he stopped and waved an expansive arm, confidently across the water.

“This is it! Isn’t it a beautiful property?”

It was difficult to decipher the boundaries of the property I must admit. So we thought we’d ask about what we could possibly do with the land.

For example, we’d like to be able to run some chooks, to which the “agent” said “for sure, of course you can have chooks”. His associate though later suggested ducks might be better; they still lay eggs and are more adaptable to wet conditions. “Not that the property ever floods…no, not all. It’s a little wet now but it’s much better on the lower tide.”

The agent suggested its possibilities as a health spa. “Here”, he says, “hold my briefcase” and handed me a very wet black briefcase. He reached beneath the water and returned with a handful of sand. Inviting Jane to offer her hands, he gently rubbed the sand over them.

“Look, if you owned this property, you could sit here and exfoliate all day long!” he claims excitedly. “All day long!” he repeats for emphasis.

“So, it’s got commercial opportunities as well?”

“Oh yes” he replies wearing a serious face and nodding slowly.

We played and he performed. We discussed the possibilities of clear-felling the banksia parkland, building high rise and even fracking for the possibility of discovering gas beneath the land. We waded back to the office, climbed through the window and entered our details into their data base. The computer keyboard was quite damp but he assured us that it didn’t mind the salt water. “Just gets a bit sticky.”

Of course, we held back from signing anything on the first inspection. There was an auction at low tide the next day.

Sunday’s weather was softened by an offshore breeze bringing a taste of autumn and the Bleach* festival served up another feast. At Tugan, the Surfrider Foundation Eco Challenge brought wooden surfboards, skate demos and eco-market stalls. In the afternoon, Christine Anu sang at Bond University and Bleach* Boulevard brought music, food and the silver mullet to the Village Green at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

It was also the close of the office in the “Tide” performance. Sadly, we missed out at the auction. Probably best anyway, we’d rather have chooks than ducks.

An improvised office sit on the sandbar in the middle of Currumbin Estuary.

An improvised office sits on the sandbar in the middle of Currumbin Estuary.

Looking through the office window.

Looking through the office window.

Office water cooler needs refilling.

Office water cooler needs refilling.

Skippy arrives at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary with a car full of gum leaves, ready for a night at Bleach* Boulevard.

Skippy arrives at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary with a car filled with gum leaves, ready for a night at Bleach* Boulevard.

Slip on Stereo performing at Bleach* Boulevard on the Village Green, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday night

Slip on Stereo performing at Bleach* Boulevard on the Village Green, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday night

6 Comments on “Biking around Bleach*

    • For sure Heather! When I saw the Bleach* program I thought wow, if I saw this festival program anywhere else in the world, I’d be saying how lucky they are to have such a vibrant festival celebrating creativity and community. And here it is on the Gold Coast!


  1. Gail that was the best post ever!!! I was wondering how to get close to the office and you just took me there. Thank you roving Bleach reporter!
    PS it just so happens I am riding my bike more thanks to you. Cycled at 6.10 for a 6.20 movie at the Arts Centre..such a beautiful night sky on the way home 😉


    • Thanks Belinda! 🙂
      The office performance was hilarious and clever. I’m glad I could share it with you!

      That’s fantastic news about your bike-riding – well done! No need to worry about a car park 😉 plus night riding is quite special…


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