Will hedonists invade the Great Barrier Reef?

A bed-and-breakfast catering to swingers causes a controversy Down Under.

By Jack Boulware
Published August 14, 2000 7:23PM (EDT)

Last month, a man giving his name only as Andrew opened a bed-and-breakfast in Cairns, a tropical city in Australia's northern Queensland region. The clientele of the B&B, Club Belavista, consists mainly of swingers and wife swappers, says Andrew, whose Web site has already recorded more than 70,000 hits.

Because of the extraordinary interest, Andrew wants to take the idea to the next level, and establish a discreet, upscale 45-room resort catering to the international swingers market. Much as with similar facilities in the Caribbean, people would pay a fee, live there for a period of time and be able to fulfill their wildest sexual fantasies. Local officials in Cairn think Andrew is out of his mind, and vow to do everything in their power to prevent a creepy influx of hedonists into their family-oriented community.

"We're a city that's known for our Great Barrier Reef, our rain forests, our weather, our climate, as well as our friendly-natured people," councilor Paul Freebody told a news agency. "We don't want to be known as the city which has Australia's first swingers resort. What's the difference between that and a brothel?" Freebody vows to fight the plan "every step of the way."

The tourism minister and the Cairns City Council refused to comment on the swingers resort, but Tourism Council Australia Queensland manager Daniel Gschwind was diplomatic, saying, "We do want tourism development to be in tune with the aspirations of the local community -- that's the fundamental point."

Unsaid in all this, of course, is the fact that locals don't want their kids to walk along the beach and see two naked couples in their 50s, going at it like hogs in heat.

Andrew is eager to defend his idea. "From a moral perspective it's no different from gay resorts, and I think the general community is behind us; it's another string in the bow for Cairns," he said. "It's not a mass orgy. It's for like-minded couples in secure and loving relationships who want to try something different ... It's not prostitution -- it's what consenting adults do in private."

He added that in his experience, about 80 percent of couples who have been together for some time have been attracted to the swinging lifestyle.

"There's nothing abnormal about the people who come here," Andrew insists. "They don't have two heads or something."

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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