Looking back, I have no idea why my parents moved from Hong Kong to the Sunshine Coast. What compels anyone to go from one of the most exciting megapolises on the planet, to a region of Queensland most famous for something called “Loo With a View”, is really beyond me. Plus, both my parents hated sand. Mum loathed how it gets in the house so easily, while Dad detested us wearing thongs, which he claimed “splits the toes unnaturally”. (WHY MOVE TO THE BEACH THEN, DANNY AND JENNY?)
So yes: it was weird that a sprawling Asian-Australian family like ours would live in coastal Queensland. Then again, Queensland is just weird, in and of itself. It has some of the country’s hottest weather, most intense natural disasters, foulest language, most colourful racists and insanely batshit politicians. (Pauline Hansen, Bob Katter and Clive Palmer are all Queenslanders. Good work, us.)
Knowing all this, you’d think more TV shows would be set in Queensland. It’s ripe for drama and comedy. In the rare instances you do see Queensland on screen, it’s usually a sexy one: depictions of sun, surf, sand and tits. Which isn’t inaccurate, exactly – there were a lot of tits where I grew up – but the Queensland of my childhood was all about the cringeworthy suburbs, with the ocean firmly relegated to the background of every drive.
A childhood in the Sunshine State is the quintessential Australian childhood, but bigger and brighter
As teenagers, none of my friends were exactly enamoured with the Sunshine Coast. Few of us were surf-loving athletes, so by the time we turned 17 – the age Queenslanders graduate from high school – we bolted from the place with the same kind of relief Muriel Hesslop felt when escaping Porpoise Spit. As a teenager, suburban, coastal Queensland was something to leave behind.
Now that I’m older though, I actually feel it’s a shame I don’t get to see the Queensland of my childhood on TV more often. When you think about it, a childhood in the Sunshine State is the quintessential Australian childhood, but bigger and brighter. In Queensland, sweltering Christmases were hotter, and the cringeworthy fashion was louder. Nowadays, I almost aggressively identify as a Queenslander. And if anyone asks me where I’m from, I’ll put on my natural accent, which is unashamedly broad, to say with the longest drawl, “Sunny Coast, maaaaaate.”
The Family Law starts Thursday 14 January on SBS.