My love affair with the beach is absolutely hereditary. A little less ‘The Graduate’ and a little more like passing on a precious heirloom, all of my memories of my mum at her happiest involve a bottle of Palmer’s Coconut Suntan Oil, a faded pink-and-white-striped beach umbrella and sun, sand & crystal blue for as far as the eye can see. It’s no wonder that she fell into a little seaside town called Beachport (Beach-Port, come on) in her twenties, and it’s no wonder that after growing up there as a sprog that the place I used as a playground, a respite, a bath and a makeshift-home became such an integral part of what I’m all about, too.
A huge tribe of my friends from all over the shot don’t really get what all the fuss is about- they reckon that the sand gets in all of your nooks, the ocean floor is littered with creepy animals that want to get you and the sun is just too much. We’re all entitled to our opinions (theirs is wrong, obviously haha) but it has got me thinking about what (apart from the relaxation aspect, the warm, clear water, the soft sand to lie back on, the hours spent not-wasted, the cricket or frisbee, the magical sunsets, the rush of the waves, the beautiful shells and the millions of photo opportunities) the thing was that’s had the beach hold my heart for all of these years- and I’ve come up with something that my ocean-obsessed mama’s said to me more times than I can remember- ‘the beach is for everyone’.
She’s right. It doesn’t cost a cent to strip down to your undies or chuck on some bathers and dive in on a summer’s day. Look along the shore at the browning bodies that adorn it and you’ll see people from every walk of life, all worshipping the same thing in that moment- all believing that the spot that they’re in might just be the sweetest there is. There are bogans drinking red-tins and talking way too loudly, next to families of four that have driven their Pajero down from Unley. There are kids who learnt to avoid rips and memorise ‘slip slop slap’ playing in the water with kids from inland, or overseas, who have never seen it before. There are oldies walking their little white dogs passing lithe, flirtatious teens living the best summer of their lives. There are people recovering from eating disorders passing people recovering from three maccas runs in the past week, passing groups of crossfitters who have every kind of beach-sport equipment under the sun in the bags that they’re lagging along with them.
There is a glorious and unpretentious mix of people, living their lives and not giving a shit what anyone else is doing, where they’re from or if they’d sit a meter away from each other when they’re off the sand. That, to me, is pretty bloody magical- it’s the melting pot that is our country, our world, personified, and it’s why any stretch of coastline is always going to be welcome to a little slice of my heart.