Sushi Train Don't Reuse Their Lids



We heard a rumour that Sushi Train don’t reuse their lids. So we packed our cameras and set out for a good old fashion stakeout.

We went to number of sushi train locations around the Gold Coast on a number of nights. Each night, employees would take bags of rubbish with hundreds of used Sushi plate lids out to the industrial bins. All of these lids go to landfill. The plastic they use is such poor quality that they aren’t even recyclable. Of course we cannot say that 'Every' Sushi Train throws out 'Every' lid but we can show what we documented. 

Imagine how many plates of sushi are eaten at eat location, multiply that by 48 locations and then multiply that by every day of the year they are open.

That’s a lot of fucking lids!

The current state of big business is terrible. The strive for lower overheads and bigger profits has caused many businesses (not just Sushi Train) to put sustainability and the environment lower on their priority list.  The bottom line of most businesses is to make money. Which means that it is cheaper for Sushi Train to manufacturer the sushi plate lids (overseas), ship them to all of their stores and then throw them in the bin after each use; instead of using higher quality plastic (or another material) that can be washed and reused. They wash and reuse the plates every time, why can't they do the same for the lids?  

I know it is ignorant to say “don’t use plastic”, which is why we are not saying that. The issue with Sushi Train is that there are sustainable options available; which many smaller sushi restaurants already use. Lids can be washed and reused.

The power of consumers is incredible. A business can’t operate without customers. Which means that we have the power to make small businesses, medium businesses and multinational corporations change what they do if we work together.  

If you believe that Sushi Train should be more eco-friendly; let them know by not eating there and use the hashtag #banthelid.  Share this article/video with your friends and sign the petitions below. Hopefully they will make a conscious effort to become more eco-friendly.

The Undercurrent


Shirts emblazoned with illustrations from local artists with postcode pride.

Carly Snodgrass, the founder of The Undercurrent, has had her fair share of travelling. Trying to bring home some sort of souvenir, whether a piece of art or a keepsake from each trip. But it’s hard to find a souvenir that depicts the city you love that isn’t a keychain or an ‘I <3 ….’ t-shirt.

Which is why Carly started The Undercurrent. A souvenir that combines art, creative locals, postcode pride and t-shirts. A Gold Coast shirt made here, detailed with an illustration from a local artist, depicting your favourite postcode with it’s history printed on the tag. A souvenir t-shirt that isn’t lame.

After moving away for a long period of time, moving back to the Gold Coast might make you cringe at first, but you learn to appreciate it more. It has become a metropolis of creative people, artists, entrepreneurs and change-makers. So it’s nice to have a souvenir that represents the Gold Coast for what it really is, instead of Cavill ave and theme parks.


 'a hidden opinion, feeling, or tendency often contrary to the one publicly shown' or 'a current of water below the surface and moving in a different direction from any surface current'

Check out the range below with the artist and postcode behind each design.




Shop Here


Design by Sarah Huston

Sarah Huston is a Creative Director/Designer hailing from the Gold Coast but working around the globe. Sarah wears many hats (her mint green one is her favourite) and works across graphic, digitaland product design; photography, illustration and copywriting.



Palm Beach

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Design by Ashley Nixon

Ashley’s art practice is a mixed bag of graphic design, sign-writing and healthy adoration of Australiana. Via mouse, paintbrush or pencil; his work has to have passed through my hand at some point of the design process.



Nobby's Beach

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Design by Laura Strange

Laura is a multidisciplinary designer living and working on the sunny Gold Coast. Her creative journey started working as a broadcast designer for Channel Seven and undertaking a Bachelor of Design at Griffith University’s College of Art where she scored Best Portfolio upon graduation.



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Design by Hayley O’Connor

Hayley O’Connor is a Melbourne born Gold coast based Illustrator and Graphic designer. Hayley is the creator of unique artworks, textile prints and typography.



Gold Coast

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Design by Matt English

Since moving to the Gold Coast from Sydney in 2008, Matt’s artistic focus has developed towards the love of minimalism. Inspired by everyday life and the beauty of the female form.



Surfers Paradise

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Design by Sarah Beetson

Sarah Beetson is a colourful character with an equally colourful array of career notches under her sparkly belt. Hailing from the UK, Sarah is an illustrator and artist whose portfolio spans from prestigious fashion houses to international magazines.



Mermaid Beach

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Design by Claudio Kirac

Claudio’s career spans more than 20 years working in a multi-disciplinary nature across photography, painting, design and illustration, transcending the boundaries between analogue and digital processes and outcomes.



Burleigh Heads

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Design by Eric Koo

Eric Koo is a man of the world. Born in Mauritius, he moved to France at 18 to study fine art in the town of Lyon and upon completion was drawn to the Gold Coast’s salty lifestyle in 2000.



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Design by Kiel Tillman

A curator of the cool and the kooky, Kiel Tillman is a man of many talents. Most notably of course, his design and illustration skills. Kiel’s murals grace the walls of some of the coolest cafes across the Coast and his illustrative designs have been picked up by both local and international brands.



Design by Byron Coathup

A long time participant in Coolangatta’s laidback surfing scene, Byron’s art and design is the epitome of the southern Gold Coast suburb he calls home.




"The Undercurrent was born from a desire to flaunt the Gold Coast through the eyes of locals. Featuring only local Gold Coast artists who share in a passion for this city’s unique culture, and offer them the opportunity to create projects on their home turf."

Shop Online Here

Follow on instagram @theundercurrentofficial


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The Soundwave Experience


Friday night

The eve of the Soundwave heavy metal and hard rock music festival. I was sitting at the outside table with my girlfriend Trish, overlooking the backyard while smoking a joint and sipping whiskey,

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“I hope you’re not taking any of that with you tomorrow,” Trish said.

“What? Whiskey or pot?” I asked.

She pointed at the tightly rolled piece of paper between my fingers, “That.”
I shook my head.

“No. I’ll be there to do a job T, there’s no point in being stoned off my head when I’m working.” 

We laughed and spent the rest of our night in the company of one another.


Saturday morning

Soundwave day. It was 9:30am when Mark made his way over to my house to shake me out of bed with his aura of almost combustible energy. The look on his face and the excitement I saw in his wide opened eyes as he stood at the end of my bed, told me that he was ready to scream, smoke and head bang his way through today’s event.

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“You’re still asleep? What the hell man?” he asked. 

“Yes. Its 9:30am, you’re lucky its soundwave or otherwise I would have left you outside to melt in the sun. How the hell did you get in anyway?” I replied.

“T let me in. Damn kid, you’re always a cranky shit in the morning,”

he said as he offered to share 1 of his 4 joints with me. He pulled one out of a zip lock bag which was shoved into a purple coloured pouch tied to the draw string of his pants

“I’m good. I have a job to do, you go hard though,” I said. 

As Mark claimed my spot from the previous night, I showered and Trish made us breakfast. Bacon, eggs, toast, 2 sausages and a glass of cold water. I heard her call out to us that it’s ready and hurried to finish my shower.

After we ate, I gathered the stuff I’d need to do my work. In my pocket would be 2 Artline200 fine along with my phone, and in my hand 1 slim, easy to carry notebook. Mark kept hold of the tickets.

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“Alright. Let’s drink some Chivas Regal and hit the road. The first band starts in just over an hour and I want to be there so I can see the state and face of the crowd from the start right to the finish,” I said.

“I’m in! Where are the shot glasses?” he asked.

We had no shot glasses. So we ended up taking swigs straight from the bottle. About 4 or 5 each, and I could already feel it starting to have an effect on me. I put the bottle back and Trish walked us out the door. I kissed her and said goodbye, she then let me know that the door would be unlocked so we wouldn’t make too much noise when we got home.

soundwave cover rarlo magazine rarloagazine gold coast australia After a short walk Mark and I got to the train station and were presented with a sight that’s only seen on this special day. Mohawks, gothic style make-up and the sight of public drinking. We had gotten our first dose of the Soundwave crowd. The train came 5 minutes after our arrival and upon boarding it we became embezzled by the same type of crowd that was waiting at the station. Except now songs from bands such as Slipknot, Slayer, Metallica, were playing on peoples phones to enhance that state of everyone’s excitement.

After arriving at Central station, we boarded the special “Exhibition train” that took us to the location of the festival. We stepped out onto the “Exhibition Platform,” and we all mobbed our way to the main gates to get our wristbands that distinguished between those who were under and over the age of 18.

“Shit,” Mark said in a worried tone, “There’s cops with dogs on the other side.”

I expected the presence of police. Usually they do random pat downs and use the dogs to sniff out drugs because they know the tendencies this crowd has for the consumption of controlled substances,

“Calm down,” I said, “You won’t be the only one carrying something today.”

Then I remembered the sight of other people on the train, who were clearly outcasts from this sort of scene - I also remember the undeniable smell of marijuana. They kept looking people up and down as they clutched their belongings closer to them and scrunched up their noses up in such a discrete way that it was actually impressive. But anyone could tell, they were far from comfortable,

“And besides,” I continued to say, “You’ve done a good job at hiding yours. Just stay away from the dogs.”

soundwave cover rarlo magazine rarloagazine gold coast australia I paused for a moment to get my wristband attached and then passed through the gate. Then in a very low tone I said,

“Because if you stay away from the dogs, it will be alright. You can always talk to a Police Officer – But you can never reason with a dog unless you’ve trained it.”

This gave Mark a relaxed vibe and we breezed through the crowd of Police Officers with ease.
No bands had started playing yet but I had already started working. We found a spot under a tree and Mark looked over the set times as I turned to watch members of the festival interact, get patted down and be innocently eyed by cops as they entered the showgrounds.

Members of this culture have a very good relationship with law enforcement inside these grounds. Even with their facial piercings, artful tattoos and rugged smokers throat, all of them comply the best way they can with the law and are usually the better types in society to cooperate peacefully with Police Officers. People here only get arrested for drug possession or disorderly behaviour after the festival is finished. But for this particular scene - the few do not speak for the many.

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As many of the bands began to take to the stage, the people began to empty the various drink stalls. Beer and Canadian club cans were the two choices of booze so I bought 4 cans of Canadian club. I suspected this would not be allowed later on during the festival so we made the most of it while we could. We drank our 4 cans at a moderate pace and walked around to get a solid location of the stages. I was taking notes when I had a free hand - trying desperately to capture the unseen spirit and atmosphere that only the Soundwave culture can offer. As morning gave way to the afternoon and the afternoon slipped into night, the big bright lights of the grounds came on and exposed what had become of the people.

Many hours of drinking, head banging, screaming and being on all sorts of drugs produced a sight of bloodshot eyes, shirtless hairy chested men and highly intoxicated women who looked ready to pass out or engage in a session of hot, loud and wild sex. This is the humble look one gets after a day taking an adventure of total endurance. 

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“Shit. I’m a little fucked up at the moment,”

"Maybe I should sit down for a while.” 

Mark said, with a sort of chaotic love for this kind of enjoyment.

“You’re fine,” I said looking down at him, “You look like anyone else here. You’ll be ‘right,”

He got up from his crouched position and laughed like nothing had happened,

“You’re right. Come on, let’s get in the pit so we’re close to the stage.”

We made our way through the small opening to the main stage mosh pit and Mark managed to get a plastic cup of water that the volunteers were handing out – a highly craved commodity on this day - and finished the half full cup in one mouthful. Then, as a rebellious gesture, proceeded to light up and smoke his last joint and share it with surrounding others,

“Only here at Soundwave can you do this man,” he said proudly.

“Fuck yeah bro,” one guy said.

Yeah mate – this is total freedom in here. Just get out of the fucking way if you’re too stoned when the music starts,” another said.

Everybody that heard him began to laugh when suddenly the stage came alive.
Strobe lights flashed on the stage and revealed a huge banner that showed the band’s name in black, ridged writing, “KORN.”

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The singer walked out and roared as the crowd cheered. The mosh pit erupted and Mark, indeed, got out of the fucking way. It was to be a 1hr and 30min set for the band and they played well. But during this onslaught of sheer excitement, there was absolutely no way I could take notes. My best recollection comes in the form of mental images:

People were screaming their heads off, singing along, raising their hands and pushing and shoving each other around like a teenage rugby team. It was a chaotic scene, but one you need to be a part of to really appreciate. When standing as a part of the crowd, I thought that those outcasts who look at the people of this culture only arrive at definitions of, “rough,” and “untrustworthy.” But the evidence against this is presented within this very pit. If anyone, a female in particular, is hurt or falls down or is having a hard time breathing, a compassionate bunch of sweaty metal heads will pick them up, make sure they’re okay and get them out if necessary and if anyone is acting wild and foolish enough to cause any sort of harm they will always be dealt with accordingly.

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The band had finished and the event was over. Now it was time for each person to come together one last time and heard towards the awaiting train. Not everyone would make the first train, but from the position Mark and I were in we managed to make it out of the mosh pit and to the front of the heard while the band was saying their goodbyes to the crowd.

“Oh thank Christ,” Mark said as he sat down on the train.

Others had the same expression about their faces, but I knew each and every one of them would still be looking out for one another. Especially now in the state they were all in after their acts of excessiveness. Friends lent on one another as others supported their hands to keep their faces from falling into their chests. After we changed trains, I began adding to my notes.

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The train ride seemed quick. I had to shake Mark out of the state he was in to get him up and ready for the short walk home. He stumbled down the platform stairs but we both managed to get back to the house. I opened the unlocked door as Mark was doing the Big Spit on the grass and once he was done, I tried desperately to get him through the door quietly. I finally got through him the door and with a solid thud, he collapsed on the couch and passed out – straight away.

I poured myself a glass of Chivas Regal, rolled a joint and proceeded to the outside table to look over the notes I’d managed to take throughout the day. As I read over them, I found that they provided a detailed conclusion of the entire Soundwave experience in a harmonious, clear tone.

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"Soundwave. The annual music event that brings the most passionate of metal heads together. A crazy tattooed sweaty bunch of people who love loud music, cold booze and a good time. A culture that converges on the Showgrounds of major Australian cities to beat the living hell out of their ear drums – and each other – for one day a year. But within this crowd of nobodies everyone has something in common – the music. They’re all here to take adventure of something very special. Everyone is here to scream, sing, push, get pushed or dance around like mad loonies who are having the time of their life, but at the same time - These people are not to be fucked-with here. And sadly, those who despise such a scene as this will be blind to the fact that anybody within this crowd would be the first to help out if any devastation were to break out; even in their tired, exhausted and intoxicated state. However, no matter what an insider says, or no matter how hard he tries to describe the good-hearted, beautiful and comfortable tranquillity that lies within each and every tattooed, long haired individual here – nothing will change. As a result of being judged by their image, they will forever be regarded in the wrong way. Even though any person who follows the false ideology of “dangerous,” when they look upon any member of the Soundwave culture, unconsciously wanting what only they can provide,  a fun-loving, full-hearted sanctuary where everybody is nobody but where anybody can feel safe.”


Gold Coast 420 Rally

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420 Rally


On July 18th, the Australian Sex Party hosted their annual 420 rally on the Gold Coast. The event drew supporters who are in favour of the legalisation of marijuana for both medical and recreational uses.

Queensland Sex Party Senate Candidate Robin Bristow, President of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Sex Party Dr Mark McGovern and members of the Sex and Hemp parties engaged with attendees and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of The 420 Rally. Offering a chance for the Australian public to be reminded that the Sex and HEMP parties are engaged in a joint effort (excuse the pun) to see the legalisation of medicinal and recreational marijuana become a reality. The rally also offered the chance for participants to make a civil act of defiance to the law and smoke marijuana publically. As a result, it showed members of the public and members of the Queensland Police Service that watched over the event, that those who wish to be under the influence of marijuana still remain a respectable class of citizen. QPS chose not to arrest those who attended but instead chose to only lookout for the attendees’ safety.

The seriousness of this peaceful protest against marijuana laws was highlighted by the attendance of epilepsy suffer, Joseph and his parents. Joseph, who is sadly confined to a wheel chair as a result of his serious epileptic seizures, emphasised the urgency for a legalised medical marijuana bill to be passed in Queensland as soon as possible. Joseph’s parents provide him with illegal cannabis oil to relieve the harsh symptoms he has to endure. It was divulged that he had broken a number of bones, multiple times, due to his seizures. The use of cannabis oil has proven to be beneficial on both his mental and physical conditions. But, regrettably, due to the current legality of marijuana in Queensland, his parents are in breach of criminal law - just for looking after their son. A law that, if elected, Candidate Robin Bristow would fight to change.

Josephs attendance at The 420 rally highlighted a very real and frequent problem that many law abiding families go through in the effort to look after a loved one. It’s not a choice that these families would make willingly, and in many cases would not be their first choice. But the option of medical marijuana is an option that has proven to work. And it’s an option that Queenslanders, and Australians nationwide, need to have access to.

Having members of the Australian Sex and HEMP parties in the Senate will instil the argument for change. An argument that has been brewing for over 80 years. However, when it comes to the conversation of using marijuana for recreational purposes, the stigma of who a “stoner” is, clouds the way to change. People who smoke marijuana is anyone on any level of society. All users understand that marijuana is a substance of leisure and is to be used with responsibility and maturity.

Speaking to both Robin and Mark about their thoughts on marijuana usage and legalisation throughout the event, it was found that their responses provided the common sense mentality that is needed on the topic of Marijuana use.

Robin told me that the legalisation of marijuana was a “Double win situation.”

“Legalised Hemp takes the money out of criminals and the underground black market and puts that money back into the hands of the government. Which then can be focused on things such as healthcare. It needs to be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue,” Robin said.

Robin’s approach to an issue that has been scrutinized for years, conveys his utmost seriousness in his reasons for wanting marijuana legalised. He then commented on what the purpose of The 420 Rally was. Stating that,

“The event is a starting point. And the fact that people are using marijuana in front of the police is an act of civil defiance against marijuana laws and this creates a snowball effect. Because they [the police] either choose to arrest everyone who is smoking or they “turn a blind eye.”

The 420 Rally is indeed the start and has a very real potential of creating the snowball effect needed to entice political change when it comes to marijuana laws. Mark’s comments follow the same common sense approach. Stating that if marijuana were to be legalised that it would then be a matter of maturity and that

“Adults should be able to be free and do what they want and know the consequences.”

Further saying that if marijuana were to be legalised, he feels that people should be free to grow it, as well as purchase it from a legitimate vendor. Stating that,

“If pot was legalised, growers could set up a shop and be subject to tax regulations for selling. And even possibly be subject to tobacco taxes. But most importantly these businesses would be contributing to the state/countries economy.”

In summary, it’s time for the Queensland government to have a mature debate about Marijuana. Robin Bristow, and members from the HEMP party, will provide that much needed maturity. The time for politics and rhetoric is over, and it’s now time for the country to set itself up for success and path the way to a better future.

Robin or the Australian Sex Party are more than eligible for your number 1 vote in the senate. Give it to them to see the change you’ve been looking for.

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Venice: reformed preconceptions of the gondola.


Reformed preconceptions of the gondola

Sunlight perforated the glass walls of Santa Lucia train station and spread its rays over the glossy marble floor. Pigeons flapped their wings frantically at the sight of a herd of humans that had just disembarked the 6 am train. I happened to be among the crowd to hop off the carriage and send the birds flying through the main door, into the warm daylight of the romantic city. Venice was awake and the dust particles floating against the early morning glare were a reminder that a new day had begun.

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To come to the "city of canals" had never been a dream of mine. In my travels, I had always aimed to avoid conventional touristic cities, albeit I understood they probably got to be well-known for positive reasons. My thought was that it would be more difficult to find myself in an intriguing situation if the nooks and crannies of the place had already been described by almost every guidebook on the planet. But with Venice it was different; it felt like there were inherent motives for me to be there.

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I followed the pigeons outside and slowly glanced at my surroundings on the way to the main door. Beams of light moved along the solid stone floor and vaporized the coolness captivated overnight; concrete walls and ceilings had their contemporary shapes enhanced by the morning glow, contrasting with the predominantly Gothic architecture beyond the station’s doors. As I stepped outside, a gentle breeze stroke my skin, counterbalancing the warmer temperature emitted by the sun. My vision was dazed and my hearing struggled to digest the variety of noises previously muffled by the walls of the train station. I considered going to the tourism office and getting a city map, but instinct made me refrain from the idea and head over a bridge, directly into the heart of the city. The maze-like streets and alleys presented on the other side of the embankment confirmed my intuition's advice against relying on a map. I'd need more than an organised drawing to find my way in such disarray.

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It was summertime and the early morning temperatures increased rapidly as the longest clock-hand moved towards decimal figures. The continuous drops of sweat on my forehead were a proof of such alterations, as was my desire for an ice-cream. Guided by the need to re-establish a balance of my bodily temperatures – together with a wish to see a serener version of the city – I sought shaded alleys over open squares, quiet corners instead of shop-filled pathways. Contrary to my preconceptions, there was quietude to be found in Venice, you only had to look for it.

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Amidst busy lanes and crowded squares, I found tunnels of unclothed bricks, charming wooden bridges and apartment windows with flowers hanging over the edge – seemingly working as an air purifier between street and room. Most colors ranged from pastel orange to concrete gray, all of which intended not to distress the eyes. The architectural resplendence left by the ancient Venetian people was brightened once the dust from the busiest part of the center dissipated into little, airy lanes. I followed the silence and aimed to find where the locals lived, shopped for fresh produce, and drank their coffee. I was also looking for the soft beams of light that found their way through the old constructions, enlivening both the color of the canals and the texture of the deteriorating walls.

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Eventually, the roaming led me to a big open square, filled with restaurants, cafes, sounds, and sunlight. The Piazza San Marco perpetuated what seemed like the essence of Venice: a place of encounters, changes, and prosperity. It was interesting – yet ironic – to witness clear signs of struggle in a city that throughout its history had been a major financial and maritime power, resisting wars and revolutions but not the current issue with erosion; hosting important artistic movements throughout the Renaissance period but grappling with the impacts of a constant flow of tourists. It was in places like Piazza San Marco that all else vanished and the energy of people merged with the magic in the air, invigorating everything and everyone.

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Inspired by the vitality of the square, I sat on a curb with ice-cream in hand, eating frantically to avoid drops on my lap. Every time the sheer taste of cold vanilla hit my tongue I was enveloped by a calm and light sensation. As the cream drowned under the inner edges of the crispy cone, I felt safer to worry less about my hands getting dirty and more about what was happening around me. Against the sun's will, I squinted my eyes and scanned around for any scene that had a particularly funny or deeply mundane feel to it.

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My eyes found an old man with a long beard and mafia-like hat balancing an unlit cigarette in his mouth. They glanced over a half-bald suited figure, holding a newspaper in the commonest of ways, concentrated in what the words had to say. They sighted a businessman taking notes in yoga-like arm motions; a restaurant waiter cutting his nails and a violinist profoundly playing his instrument. They also spotted carefully-placed bricks, the famous Venetian masks, and magazine kiosks with Photoshopped post-cards that would hopefully use the buyer as a medium to continuously advertise the city and its landmarks.

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Once my bodily temperature began to rise, I got up and carried on along the quiet and shaded areas of the city. Yet, I felt a change in the way I perceived the city – a shift in my modus operandi – as if that moment in the sun had set the ‘Venetian spell’ upon me. It wasn’t the architecture, or the canals, or even the people what gave Venice its charming air; it was the clash of it all. The vibrating energy produced by the wondrous looks of the people when contemplating the sheer beauty of the place. I began to appreciate the picturesque canals not by their color and translucency, but by their snake-like shape that cut the land into islets.

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In this transition of perception, I noticed the surprising amount of gondolas cruising the canals and was consequently exposed to the importance of their scullers. What is nowadays mostly a tourist attraction had previously been one of the main means of transportations in and out of that maze, which in time – with the prioritization of comfort and agility – was swapped by motor-boats, and would’ve already faced extinction if it wasn't for foreigners and their dream to float along the canals aboard the traditional Venetian craft. Such discernment helped me to see the other side of the tourist-city relationship, slowly easing my general prejudice over conventional touristic cities.

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The same hands and feet that litter the canals and crowd the streets are the ones to pay the sculler for a ride, who then goes home after a days work to feed his family and hopefully provide a prosperous future to his children. This abrupt noesis kicked me in the chest and sent me right back to my arrival at the train station earlier that day, when all I could see was my narrow and predetermined idea of the city, and my unsound connotation of the effects of tourism.

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It was by staring at the city's most iconic object, the gondola, that I realized how and why Venice had been undergoing so many challenges and changes in its geography, economy, and demography, but remained almost untouched culturally. Through my reformed preconceptions of the gondola it became clear that perhaps a travel destination shouldn’t be evaluated by how much it has been discussed on travel blogs or featured on pocket-guides, but by how well it keeps tradition in harmony with development.  

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Payment for Papers - Contract Cheating on Campus

Payment for Papers

Contract Cheating on Campus

by Katie Hall


“It was close to $400 for just a draft,” said Amy, a Brisbane-based university student who wrote essays for cash, known as contract cheating.

Contract cheating came into public knowledge in 2014 when Fairfax Media exposed the ghost-writing service, MyMaster Group, where university students were paid to write essays and sit exams on other student’s behalf.

Although tertiary education institutions have tightened the systems to prevent contract cheating, the industry is still very much alive.

A quick internet search revealed a number of Australian-based essay services. offers a 825-word essay for $131.28, returning in three hours. will write a 1,100 word essay for $150.09, with a 24 hour turnaround.

Amy and George live, study and work in Brisbane, Queensland. They have entered and left the dangerous world of ghostwriting essays for students who are complicit to pay for their time and services.

George was introduced to the lucrative market by a friend, who offer to split the profits from an assignment he had been contracted to write.

“I think that is how most people start out; students who are already doing work for others in exchange for money often refer students looking to pay students to do work for their friends,”

Similarly, Amy was first asked by a friend, whose second language was English, to help with an assignment.

“He couldn’t really speak English, but he was a friend. So he asked me for help, and it was really urgent for him, so it was more like I started because he really needed help and I wanted to help him,” said Amy.

Money is the sole motivator in the ghostwriting business, and university students are a cash-strapped demographic.

“I figured that if other students didn’t want to do their work, I could profit off them,” said George.

“At the time I was happy to do it. It was extra money in my pocket that I got to spend on family and friends, and it was relatively easy to earn.”

The current rate for AuStudy is $567.70 per fortnight (less rent assistance). Writing one assignment for $400, the going rate, more than doubles a student’s weekly income.

For Amy, the financial incentive of contract cheating is a secondary benefit to helping out a friend.

“It was friendship based, except for the second time. He really wanted my help… I thought it was very risky, and I told him if you are going to make me take the risk, then pay me more money.”

Contract cheating is a way for students to supplement their ‘legitimate’ jobs and Centrelink payments, see as extra spending money for non-necessary items.

Amy and George have previously worked for students from wealthy backgrounds and higher paying jobs taking advantage of their services, including “wealthy international students” said George.

When George was asked how he balances his university schedule and writes other student’s assignments, he admitted;

“Personally, I would never place someone else’s study ahead of my own, even if I were being paid. I think that is a risk the person paying has to bear because there is no guarantee that the student doing the work will do it well or even achieve a pass for the student paying.”

To protect her time, Amy is strict about often she works for others.

“I felt like I had a line, I had a boundary. I wouldn’t want to do a whole assignment for them. I wouldn’t want to put 100 per cent in for their assignments.”

“I made sure I didn’t spend much time on it because it is just to help a friend. If they want to give me the money, they’re going to do it because it is fair… I told them around two hours to three hours.”

Amy and George view contract cheating is buying an unfair advantage.

“Especially when they achieve higher marks than those who do their own work,” said George.

“I think there also might be an incentive for students who work full-time to pay other students to do their work because of how hard it can be to juggle work and study.”

“I work so hard for my grades,” said Amy, “I think to myself; ‘that’s not fair!’ To be honest, if you don’t want to put in the effort, so what? When I have problems I don’t go looking for someone who can help me. If I get a lower grade, so be it. How bad could it be?”

Griffith University defines academic misconduct as behaviour that involves falsifying academic achievement, which includes authoring papers on another’s behalf. Punishment for academic misconduct ranges from warnings to expulsion. To curb cheating, Griffith employs Turntin, a software program that scans for plagiarism.

“There is always that risk, and I think in some particular areas of study academic misconduct can have a significant effect on a student’s prospects of obtaining a job,” said George.

“What alleviates some of that worry is the fact that it would be mutually detrimental for both the student providing the work and the student paying.”

Amy wasn’t as concerned as George with being caught, and does not plan to ghost write again.

“What would you say? If your friend needed help and they don’t understand stuff? Maybe I would be jeopardising my career but it is more important that I present myself as someone who is fit and proper. I know my mistakes, and I have to own up to it and take responsibility for it, even though maybe I was ignorant or inexperienced.”

George, too, contends that he will no longer accept money to write assignments.

“In hindsight, it seems unfair to help some students gain an unfair advantage over other students who do study hard and do their own work. That being said, there is more of an incentive for students who have expenses, such as rent to pay, which may compel them to undertake the work.”

Amy feels that in the end, the students who pay others to do their work are ultimately robbing themselves of information that is relevant to their degree.

“There is no point in doing the degree if you are going to do all those kinds of things. But I guess they come from a different world than us.”


*Names have been changed.