I am an Aussie Beach Ambassador (but I don’t tan)

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I love the beach. I’m a beach person. Some people need the mountains, some feel connected to the desert. For me it’s the beach.

I am NOT your typical beachy person. I have dead white skin and picky melanin that likes to hang in cliques rather than spread itself around evenly. I don’t sunbake, as blisters are unattractive, so as the summer sun sears down, I am usually inside. But as the cool of afternoon sets in you will find me sitting on the beach, in a huge hat and a thick layer of SPF30 staring out to sea. I do this to recharge, to feed my soul because while I may look like a milk bottle in a bikini, I do need to be near the sea.

I’ve been to some interesting beaches. Brighton Beach in England is an excellent choice for deck chair enthusiasts, and for those wanting to write morbid poetry or who are contemplating suicide, anywhere along Cardigan Bay in Wales is for you.

If Bondi Beach in the summer is not crowded enough for you then any beach in Chiba Prefecture Japan should be suitable. But be forewarned, Japanese law states that if you intend to surf, even if it’s your first time, you must be fitted with all the latest, most expensive surf paraphernalia.

One of the most interesting beaches I’ve been to is Orchard Beach in New York. After tiptoeing through broken glass and around ghetto blasters, I found a patch of sand to enjoy for a full five minutes before the police zoomed down the beach in buggies and across the water in boats, yelling at everyone through loudspeakers to “Get off the beach, the beach is closed.” It took them an hour to clear the beach… and arrest the young guys who threw the lifeguard chair into the surf in protest. I was horrified. Had there been a major crime, or a murder? A terror attack? After speaking to one of the policemen, I learnt that this happened every afternoon. As the cop explained to me…

“Can’t have anyone on the beach once the lifeguards are off duty. What happens if someone drowns and they sue?”

I had to ask, “Do a lot of people who drown here sue?”

Venice Lifesavers (not California)

I can’t be away from the beach for long. I was living in Vienna and started having dreams where I left my body and looked down at myself, lying in a bed, in an apartment, in a city, in a country COMPLETELY landlocked by other countries. I panicked. I needed the beach. Friends took me to “their” beach, but a dip in the Danube is not a suitable replacement for an empty Australian ocean. Although I do admire the Austrians for their attitude towards nudity.

I like to think of myself as a bit of an Aussie Beach Ambassador. I’ve done more for tourism than Oprah. Wherever I’ve lived in the world, I’ve raved about the beaches here in Oz. I have captivated (or bored the pants off, depending on whose version of the story you believe) many a dinner party guest with my tales of Australian beaches, the miles of empty golden sand, the countless times I’ve swum with dolphins, pods of dolphins who love having contact with locals… dolphins who have no need to fear the fishing net… And the SHARKS! They’re everywhere. But we’re tough and just wrestle them if they come too close. My partner is a surfer, and he takes a bat out with him on rough days. Everyone around the world knows that you swim here at your own risk. And I quite enjoyed perpetuating the myth. After all… my current local, Bondi Beach is busy enough, without any more tourists stopping by.

I grew up on this beach

I now live on this beach

Beware of police buggies on this beach