Hi Suburbia, nice to meet you.

Moving house is always a big deal. Even if you’ve moved five times in the last year, there always seems to be a ridiculous amount of things you have that you don’t particularly need – little pink teddy bear that’s missing an ear but is super cute so you just have to keep it, check. If you’ve not moved house at all in your entire lifetime, say twenty something years, you’ll find that you’ve got a whole heap of this random junk, as well as the occasional necessity (bed, fridge etc.) that all needs to be transported. Add all that random junk up, times it by seven, slot it right in the middle of pre-Christmas preparation, and what you have is exactly what my family and I just dealt with. Big deal? More like ordeal.

As well as dealing with the thousands of tons of sentimental crap that needed to be moved, smack bang in the middle of the Christmas shopping-rush period, the many changes that my family of seven and I would come to endure as a result of the move certainly came as a shock, whether they were anticipated or not.

Moving from one suburb to the next may involve all the typical moving processes; boxing things up, throwing them in the moving van, un-boxing things. But all in all it’s basically the same, similar streets, similar houses, similar surroundings. Moving from rural lands of forest goodness to outer suburbia however, is a whole different kettle of fish. Sure moving to the heart of the city or even inner suburbia would’ve been a whole other level of change, but hey, give a girl a break, this move was surely big enough – we have footpaths and public transport now, woah!

Take away thousands of acres of home-grown national forest, and replace it with bus stops, shopping centres and paved drive ways, and you’re only beginning to understand the drastic changes we began to face, and would eventually begin to become accustomed to.

Don’t get me wrong, my family and I are not country hicks, we had iPhones and wireless internet (albeit a much slower download speed than now), and spent as much time in the city as any other suburban chap …We just drove an hour and a half home each night, instead of jumping on a five-minute tram ride.

We moved from the mountain top town known as Toolangi, home of a mere 300 or so, to the lovely and lively suburb that is Chirnside Park. At 33kms northeast of Melbourne CBD, the drive home from the city is now less than half it used to be. Because of this, my petrol tank is now smiling as big as it ever could, however, my stereo is not. Instead of being able to fit in a solid three albums worth of listening on the trip, I’m now lucky to fit in one. But hey, I’ve got all this spare time in the day now, music listening has been engaged at other times of the day when I’m not in the car. Furthermore, if I’m feeling like a drink or two, a big night out or just a few sneaky bevvo’s after work, never fear, public transport is actually an option now. Rather than a 20 minute drive from the nearest bus stop, or a good half hour from the train, buses stop just at the end of our street and the train station is at a walking length away (would be a considerably long drunken stagger home, but doable nonetheless). The options of drunken trips home have increased tenfold! Add to this the next option that my house is now located in a general enough area that my sober friends can drop me off or pick me up, and it really does seem a dream come true. Nothing says summertime fun like the possibility of actually being able to drink 24/7 – if only my stomach and head would uphold their sides of the deal.

Delivered pizza is also a thing now. Whether it be during aforementioned drunken times or when dealing with the hangover/laziness the next morning, pizza delivered right to my door (on which said door also has a doorbell!), how did I cope without this for so long?!

However, while it may have all seemed like glory and riches and all the nice things in the beginning, this little forest girl has certainly found many a downside to living in good old Chirnside Park, 3116.

With the population of close to ten thousand, whenever you go anywhere you’re bound to see someone. No longer can I quickly run out to the car (which is now to be parked on the street) in my undies without someone catching a glimpse of my mostly nakedness, nor can I go for a run around the block without my red-faced sweaty self being spotted by an onlooker – and not the kind of onlooker or passer-by that’s okay, it’s always the kind you’d rather not see in that state. Go for a run in old T Town and the only people you’d see were farmer Bob driving past in his tractor or old lady Karen riding on her horse with her dog trailing behind. You’d stop for a heavily-panting filled chat and continue on your way. People from the country don’t mind if you’re hot or sweaty or half out of breath, hell most of the time you’re invited round for ‘scones when you’re done running deary’, or asked to tell your old man about some kind of machinery you can never quite remember the name of. But here in the outer eastern ‘burbs that kind of communication doesn’t exist, because instead of encountering the old lovely types, it’s douche bags in fully sick commodores ready for a chat – awesome.

The people just aren’t the same in Chirny, as they call it, and I am yet to decide if this is good or bad. Now that shops are conveniently located at a one minute drive away rather than 20, I no longer have to run next door to ask Rosa if she has a spare egg when I’m half way through a cake recipe and realise I don’t have enough. However, I no longer have to deal with crazy Mike next door thinking it’s okay to cut away his blackberries and throw them over the fence – yes mate, I see you, and no, you’re not getting your bi-carb soda back.

Although my family and I are yet to determine which of our new neighbours are bat shit crazy (there’s always one nuthouse) the difference between night time here and back home is already obvious. Dogs bark constantly, the sounds of police and ambulance sirens regularly drive by, hoons do their thing, and parties are held. Sleep is not an option, much, at all, ever.

I miss the birds at home, I miss not being able to have a conversation in my backyard without someone next door hearing it, I miss seeing certain people and certain things, I miss the parties! (You can’t have a party here that’s anything like a good old bush doof rave cave) But mostly, I miss my car keys. I’ve lost them more in the last three weeks than I have my entire life. You see, here in the suburbs we lock our cars, did you know? (and the house too!)

Boys in bands with beards

Take a walk down Melbourne’s Brunswick Street or through Bondi in Sydney and you’ll find yourself amidst a stream of trendy, indie types. Hipsters flood the second hand book stores and grass carpeted organic cafés and bars, dressed in leather shoes, tightly fitted jeans and a shirt buttoned all the way up. The latest addition to the hipster-esque ensemble is, however, the most intriguing. Beards.

They’re everywhere, bigger and bushier than ever. Beautiful men, in beautiful clothes, who often play beautiful music, will almost definitely sport a large sum of facial hair growing downwards from their chin. Boys in bands with beards are taking over the streets and the music industry right before our eyes. Don’t believe me? Check your iTunes. Matt Corby, Angus Stone, Bon Iver, Damien Rice, Josh Pyke, Dallas Green of City and Colour, one of the boys from Architecture in Helsinki has a crazy beard, it’s rare that all five of Passion Pit are cleanly shaven, one half of the Black Keys sports a massive beard, the list goes on. Basically, it seems, if you’d like to be trendy, or successful in the realm of the alternative or folk music scene, grow a beard and you’re set for stardom.

But where has this phenomenon come from that is filling our cities with facial hair to the brim?

Move over Movember. Beginning in Melbourne in the early 2000s and making a mark right across the world, Movemeber has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for prostate cancer research and men’s depression charities. Through the growth of millions of moustaches in support of the movement, moustaches began to trend in the music scene and on the streets, perhaps a humble beginning to the uprising of hipsters with facial hair. But fads do die, and so whilst many will still line their upper lip this November, currently beards take reign all year round.

Perhaps it’s an ode to ancient leaders. The most respected ancient Egyptians had great beards, often with gold strips plaited into them. Some even attached fake beards to gain hierarchy (who knew hair extensions existed back then!). In ancient India having a beard meant having wisdom and dignity, men with no beards in ancient Gaelic times were said to be dishonourable, and Spartans in ancient Greece partly shaved a man’s beard if he was a coward.

Maybe growing a beard is a religious thing, to do with inner peace and pleasant souls or whatever mumble jumble those hipsters will tell you. Jesus and almost all of his disciples had beards, so perhaps growing a beard would help inspire these trendy city kids to be good willed and humble, performing some kind of miracle upon their music. Your guess is as good as mine.

Oh what about pirates! Maybe the hipsters are making a statement like the peg-legged notorious sea captains. As well as the typical eye patch, parrot on shoulder, boat with skull flag, treasure map, and hoop earring, pirates almost always had beards. Cue Captain Redbeard and Blackbeard. Whilst the music playing boys might take over stages and festival line ups rather than the deep dark sea, perhaps the beard thing is about being different, making your own rules, and defying the straight-laced. Notorious leaders like Ned Kelly and bandana wearing bikies also fit this bill perfectly. They break the rules, make their own statements, and of course, have beards of lengths that are out of control. To further validate this, the upper-class are always cleanly shaven. Never do you see a man in a business suit at a corporate function with a beard. Oh the horror. Recently, an article was published reiterating this exact point, it stated that policemen are to be clean shaven, to maintain their power and class, and because “you can’t trust men with beards.” So whether it’s peg-legged or Harley Davidson inspired, notoriety and stepping outside the norm is also a beard influencing possibility.

There’s also the chance that, on the flip side, these boys in bands with beards want to be leaders of the great kind, rather than the rebellious kind – that or they’re just massive fantasy book nerds. Just look at Gandalf and Dumbledore; two of the greatest leaders to ever grace our bookshelves and cinemas, who lead their followers to victory and greatness. Perhaps these musos want to lead their fans into melodic victory and harmonious greatness, and find themselves fame along the way.

Maybe they’re just going for the rugged, just-got-out-of-bed look that rock n roll kings don because “the chicks dig it”, and because being carefree and a free spirit is like totally the best way to live man.

Maybe it’s simply because they’re struggling musicians and hipsters who can’t afford to buy a razor. Or maybe they’re just being lazy.

Whatever the reason is, it’s happened, and it’s a thing. Beards have taken that much flight there’s even an international beard community online who run the World Beard Championships and are currently mourning the loss of a dearly beloved heavily bearded man. For real. Another site, Beard.org, will help you grow a beard, let you show it off, teach you different styles, and even allow you to share your beard success story.

At the present time it’s guaranteed you will not leave your home without seeing at least one bearded man along your daily travels through the city. Hipsters will continue to flood trendy spots sporting beards of outrageous proportion, and boys in bands with beards will continue to fill our festival line ups and stages across the nation – that is, until something ‘cooler’ comes along. Maybe it’ll be sideburns next? Oh boy.

[information_box]NOTE: Quite independently from this article the founders of Freerange Press make a controversial claim to have accidentally started the international movember movement with a 3-years of Moustache Growing Competitions in 2000, 2001 and 2003 in Wellington. Named The Month of Mo, we gave the meager proceeds to Oxfam NZ. They were however amazing parties with Moustache poetry ciphers amongst other antics. There is a Polaroid photograph evidence in the bottom of suitcase somewhere.[/information_box]