Do you know your skate park etiquette?
Cover photo taken by Lindsay Moller Productions - courtesy of Port Macquarie Hastings Council.
Tacking Point Lighthouse, Lady Nelson Wharf, the Breakwall, are just some of the iconic landmarks in Port Macquarie that any local and most visitors become familiar with only after a few days being in the area. However, the Skate Park at Town Beach is one that is often missed on that list and it holds a certain importance to many of its devoted and passionate users.
With its stunning backdrop of palm trees, ocean and beach, and a common distraction of passing dolphins leaving or entering alongside the breakwall which is positioned just next to the feature bowl of the park, this skate park clearly has the pozzie of pozzie's as far as skate parks go.
As an onlooker, and not a capable "skater" myself, I wonder what it would be like to catch a glimpse of this vista during your moments of flight after coming off the lip of the bowl. Surely this positioning of the park adds to the enjoyment and popularity of this skatepark over some of the others.
On weekends and holidays this area is buzzing with wheelie apparatuses and often beating music powered by some portable device. It's a scene that is clearly derived from skateboarding tradition originated from places like California. To the untrained eye it looks like chaos and I wonder how there is not a permanent ambulance station set up there for the certain carnage that must take place. However, I've come to learn that the skate park runs with some organisation based on a set of standard guidelines and understanding between fellow skaters. As a visitor or newcomer to the park it's pretty important to have an understanding of these unofficial/official guidelines to ensure you are not a) getting in the way, and b) being unofficially/officially asked to leave the park by a long term park resident.
As a parent with two young kids who are keen to get into some kind of wheel powered sport, I thought it best to get a better understanding of how this all works. So who better to speak to than Matt Scully who owns and runs the also iconic skater and surf shop called Inner Vision Surf n Skate just up the road from the Skate Park. Matt and his family have owned and run this shop for over 35 years, so if there was someone who could help, I knew it would be him.
Matt provided me with a written version of the guidelines which is more like etiquette of how to behave in the park. My first impression of the guidelines was that it's a similar concept to that of the surfers' etiquette which can even be found posted on a sign at certain beaches like Town Beach. Skate Park etiquette (similar to the surfing etiquette) is fairly universal but, of course with, some local "amendments" depending on where you go.
Here is what it says:
The Quick Guide To Skate Park Etiquette
*Be patient and take your turn, (it's just like a slide),
*Have a turn, wait till everyone has had a go, then go again.
*Follow the flow of traffic
*Be mindful of your skill level and the area in which you are skating in.
*Be mindful of where you sit down - if you need a break, move off of the park.
*Take care of each other and share the rules with newcomers - the park is for everyone.
Matt also enlightened me on probably an even more significant aspect of the skate park than the guidelines. That is what importance the park holds as a place of sanctuary to many of its young participants.
"There is a special bond and a code that many of the kids can connect with and feel a sense of belonging to down there" Matt says. "It's all about the skaters handshake", he continues "and when you greet a fellow skater in that way there is a mutual understanding and respect for each other".
Matt's recognition of the concept that the park is a place of sanctuary for kids, some of which might have difficult things happening in their lives, has led him to incorporate a program into his shop to educate and promote "the code". In his scooter workshops, participants not only learn about how to maintain their equipment, but they share stories and videos of themselves and some of the local heroes in the sport while learning the guidelines along with technical and practical lessons. They receive paraphernalia such as t-shirts that you will now often recognise down at the skatepark. Even the shirt is a symbol of belonging - you know that you share something in common with anyone who wears it as the workshop is the only place it's provided.
So next time you're down at Town Beach, or if you're like me and have kids who are interested in getting into the daring sport of skating, watch the skate park for a while and take a minute to appreciate the way the apparent chaos actually is more of an organised flow of movement and with an understanding between fellow skaters. Be sure to speak with Matt at Inner Vision Surf n Skate or enroll your kid in one of his workshops to get them involved. If you are visiting the area or new to the sport then brush up on the "guidelines" mentioned above so you can enjoy the park as much as the locals do.
For more information and to book in on a workshop contact Inner Vision Surf and Skate.
Call - (02) 6583 7790
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