Thomas James Hewitt was born on the 1st of September 1994 shortly after his twin brother Duke. His mum is a midwife and nurse; his dad works in health & safety for large oil companies. The family lived in a three-bedroom house in the town of Margaret River until Tom was ten. They then moved into a large modern home by the sea with ocean views. It was his family who had the home built, an architect friend designed it.
The kids went to St Thomas Moore Catholic Primary School, then Margaret River Senior High School. Dad surfed, Frances surfed, Duke started surfing and Tom followed soon afterwards because “at that age you’re getting told what to do, ‘go there’, ‘read that book’, but when you’re surfing you’re having the time of your life doing whatever you want for three hours.” Tom started taking photos with his mum’s camera around the age of 12, took a liking to it and continued learning about it through high school. Once he graduated Tom took a gap year, which he thinks is a good way to describe it because he wasted it away in Margaret River smoking too much weed and not surfing all that much. He then moved to Perth to pursue his interest in photography at university, but dropped out after a semester because it didn’t feel right.
He signed on to a pastry chef apprenticeship, living in his parents’ beachside flat with sister Frances. Once he finished his apprenticeship he travelled in California and Mexico. Back in Australia he moved back in with his parents in Margaret River and got a job at the local bakery. When he isn’t working he surfs, takes photos, reads books and browses the internet.
Tom thinks depression isn’t a thing if you’re an affluent white kid from a town like Margaret River, because “you should just wake up, smell the roses and realise how fucking good we’ve got it.” Tom wouldn’t rule out having sex with a robot if he was drunk and it was pretty life-like. He hates 21st century hippies because “they’re posing as something they’re not. You don’t have to have dirty hair and stink and drive a crap car to be environmentally conscious, they’re just doing those things because they want people to know.” He thinks the world is made up of 20 people he likes and 7 billion people he hates, he hates people who surf longboards in WA even though his dad is one of them.
I called Tom to get his perspective on the process of ‘growing up’.
What are you doing?
I’ve just pulled over on the side of the road, coming back from a surf.
Alright. You ready?
What were the best parts about growing up in Margaret River?
Isolation. I feel like kids who grow up in cities are hyperaware of what other people think of them, whereas we were, for lack of a better word, free range. We thought something was cool and we did it because we wanted to and it made us happy. Also it meant we got kept away from heaps of bad stuff like drugs and going out, for a lot longer than if you were to live in a city or even a bigger town.
What were some of the bad parts about it?
Isolation, again. The narrow-mindedness of everyone, you couldn’t just be a little bit different to the stock-standard, normal of what everyone expected of you without someone questioning you and being like, ‘what, you’re a weirdo’. When in reality you’re just trying to be an individual, not just a run-of-the-mill blonde haired surfer. People didn’t like that.
Would you consider yourself a grown-up?
I think of myself as being an adolescent but not a grown-up, nah, I’m not grown up.
When will you be?
Maybe when I don’t live with my parents and have some kind of financial buffer that I can use as a way to bounce my way around places. Have my own place maybe. It’s more of a mindset, being a grown-up, at one point in your life you’ll think ‘I’m not a kid anymore’ but I can’t really say. I’m not there yet. Maybe I’ll never be a grown-up. Some people don’t grow up Hugh.
You’re talking to the Pope of not growing up, right now.
I’ve got one foot in the door, toes in.
A bit of both.
Yeah, tested the water and I don’t really like it enough.
Do you think you’ll go in a bit more?
Probably not, maybe. Being a grown-up is like having your responsibilities and having things that tie you down. I feel like that’s a real grown-up thing, and I’m not into that.
How was your childhood compared to growing up in a time pre-technology?
I honestly don’t think it would have been that different. We didn’t get the whole social media thing until quite late. Our way of hanging out was meeting at the river mouth after school. That was our fun for the arvo. We didn’t give a fuck about getting a cool photo to put on Instagram because we didn’t have it. We were maybe one of the last years to get through before shit got whack.
How would your childhood compare to someone who was born today?
The whole social media thing. You’re 10 years old and you’re expected to make this perception of yourself, via the internet, for people to look at and like. When I was 10 I didn’t even know what I wanted or who I was and now they’re putting up photos of how they want people to perceive them. Writing stuff because it’s how they want people to think they think. It’s just weird, it’s making kids grow up way too quick.