by Anna Campbell
I'm going to take a short break from peddling baritone porn (if anyone missed out on checking out this site which came up on the comments part of Kirsten's wonderful Internet blog yesterday, do yourself a favor). Instead, I've become a total beach!
I know most of the Banditas and a fair portion of the Bandita Buddies are shivering in the cold or at least miserable in drak weather. To be honest, our summer down here in Oz hasn't been that great either - very soggy indeed!
So I thought I'd torture...uh, INSPIRE you all with some pictures of Aussie beaches.
I adore the beach. We were a beach family. In spite of growing up in Cunnamulla, hundreds of miles inland, my dad was a very enthusiastic swimmer when he was young and volunteered as a lifesaver on one of the Gold Coast beaches in the years before he married Mum. If you don't know what a lifesaver is, here's a photo, girls! Be almost worth drowning for, wouldn't it? And you know, they give you the kiss of life!
Anyway, all our holidays when I was a kid involved water of some kind and usually the vast, blue, magnificent Pacific that wasn't very far from where we lived. Which was a pity for my mother who had also grown up miles inland and never learnt to swim and hated the sea with a passion. Just goes to show what people will do for love, huh? The annual beach holiday was nothing but torture for her!
Our most popular destination, partly because it was close to Redland Bay, was the Gold Coast. It's fairly glitzy (although less so back in the Dark Ages when I was a kid - we used to watch for the Viking longboats on the horizon!). I still have enormously fond memories of that magnificent strip of pristine sand and the wonderful sea - and they're still there in spite of all the tall buildings that now line the beach. This is a picture of the walk through the pandanuses and the casuarinas and the dunes to the shore - it's still like that in many places. You can see why I loved it!
This is a photo of famous Bondi Beach (not a patch on the Queensland beaches, in my humble opinion - a statement that can cause a riot in Sydney!). It's still a pretty nice stretch of sand and the beauty is it's right on the edge of Sydney so you can get there in half an hour on a bus from the city. A beach on your doorstep. Newcastle is even better - the beach is at the end of the main street of the CBD.
Perth too has beaches close to the city centre. I only recently fell in love with the beaches of Western Australia. They're on the Indian Ocean and they have a completely different feel to the east coast beaches I've visited. One of my favorites is on Rottnest Island which is a short ferry ride from the mainland. A treasured memory is a holiday I had there a few years ago - I just lolled in the perfect opalescent water all day. The ideal summer break! Check out this photo and you'll see what I mean.
I've also been lucky enough to visit the Barrier Reef a couple of times. Gorgeous place and gorgeous beaches. The last photo is an atmospheric view across to one of the hundreds of islands that fringe the coast along this great natural wonder. Because the water is flat on the Barrier Reef, a real treat is snorkeling. I've only done this once, on Green Island off Cairns. It's absolutely magical - a world of brilliant color and darting tropical fish and coral and silky, warm water. Seriously recommended as an unforgettable experience.
So in the depths of winter for so many of us, let's warm things up. What's your ideal summer holiday and why?