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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Offbeat: to be unconventional, original, quirky and weird - and tell a story

So for something to be 'off·beat' it has to be original, unusual, quirky or kitsch, something that doesn't conform to conventions or expectations - but as Kim Wildman argues in relation to sights, "it is the story behind them, how did they get there? who created them and why? that makes them so fascinating..." Take a read of Kim's comments to yesterday's post More reflections on offbeat travel: when the mainstream starts to have kitsch appeal and also the comments to my post before that What does it mean to be 'offbeat' in an age where everyone is so 'switched on'?). Kim tells us how Ronnie's Sex Shop "was a failing farm store on a lonely strip of highway until one night when Ronnie's friends decided to play a drunken prank on him and added the word 'sex' to its name – sure enough it soon stopped traffic. While Ronnie’s has certainly slipped into the mainstream (it's now a pub/restaurant) it is the story of how it suddenly became a destination on the tourist map that makes it 'offbeat'." The conventional becomes offbeat before then becoming mainstream again. A bit like any fashion really. What's unconventional to some may be mainstream to others, that which is offbeat and eccentric to one person can be familiar and normal to another, and those things that might have once been 'off-the-beaten-track' are now 'known' to all travellers. With all this in mind, I find myself intrigued by a fairly new travel product which keeps popping up called Offbeat Guides. I'm eager to find out just what makes them so unusual.

The image? That's the Big Prawn at Exmouth, Western Australia. We like our seafood large-size in Australia.

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