Think of the Australian beach. Do you see the white-sand smiles of a sunburnt country? The kingfisher blue of Bondi or Burleigh Heads; of Wineglass Bay, Cottlesloe or Noosa…? Aussie beaches are iconic because of how they’re used in summer: past times often immortalized by artists like Charles Meere’s Australian Beach Pattern, 1940 or Max Dupain’s The Sunbaker. But Australia is girt by sea all year round and if you haven’t yet embraced the winter beach…go now. Don’t just leave it to the diehard surfer who togs up in rubber regardless of the temperature. You will find a different you on a beach in winter, under a bruised sky, in winds you must punch headfirst into, against grains of sand that scratch and stick. There’s nothing placid about a winter beach after a storm and everything in nature is bigger than you: from foaming white waves that deafen to pungent mounds of seaweed dumped on the last tide. You can’t be lazy on a winter beach: a swim is not inevitable and spreading out a towel to lie on out of the question. Instead, a winter beach calls you to action like a parade ground sergeant major. Boots, parka, and a rucksack for finds of flotsam and jetsam replace the flimsier requirements of a humid day. And when you get home you know you can re-enter your comfort zone with a hot shower, hot chocolate, or hot pot. Everything hot under the sun, in fact, because you’ve earned it.
Published in Country Style, June 2014