A de­light­ful dip in the North Sea

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MARK OT­TER

SHORN­CLIFFE, QUEENS­LAND THE East Frisian is­lands off Ger­many’s North Sea coast are pop­u­lar with lo­cal tourists. Borkum, the largest, most west­erly, most vis­ited and most eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble isle is de­light­ful. It has a rich mar­itime his­tory and is en­dowed with many kilo­me­tres of beau­ti­ful white-sand beaches and lots and lots of wide- open space. It also has re­fresh­ing (as in gusty) sea breezes.

There are the nor­mal beach­side ac­tiv­i­ties in abun­dance on Borkum such as swim­ming (yes, the North Sea is great for a dip and not too cold, at least dur­ing my au­tumn visit), sail­ing and wind and kite surf­ing.

Then there are the fas­ci­nat­ing guided mud­flat tours, which are led by guides who not only speak au­thor­i­ta­tively on the va­ri­ety of crea­tures liv­ing in the mud, such as mus­sels, worms and oys­ters, but warn visi­tors of the rapidly ad­vanc­ing tide.

The guides read­ily re­late sto­ries of non- guided walk­ers get­ting stuck in the mud and then drown­ing on the in­com­ing tide.

More fa­mil­iar to Aus­tralians is the pres­ence of so­called surf life­savers. Their stan­dard uni­form is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from ours (more like Arc­tic sur­vival gear in colder months), but the swim­ming safety flags are the same colour and their equip­ment al­most iden­ti­cal.

How­ever, Borkum’s life­savers do not have to con­front sharks, crocs, stingers or, it must be ad­mit­ted, even surf.

One big dif­fer­ence be­tween Ger­man and Aus­tralian beaches is the pres­ence at the for­mer of strand­ko­rbs, which are wicker bas­ket-like af­fairs that can seat two peo­ple and pro­tect you from the el­e­ments.

But be aware of a par­tic­u­lar cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity that Ger­mans seem to ex­hibit on their beaches. Hir­ing a strand­korb en­ti­tles you to peace and quiet in the vicin­ity of your lit­tle bit of rented beach.

At least that is what I soon dis­cover when my daugh­ter and I are roundly chas­tised by a uni­formed beach ‘‘guardian’’ for dar­ing to laugh and frolic while build­ing a sandcastle.

Not only are there few for­eign­ers on Borkum, but none of the global brands such as McDon­ald’s, KFC and the like. Sounds like the per­fect get-away-from-it-all hol­i­day desti­na­tion, ja? Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@ theaus­tralian.com.au. Colum­nists re­ceive an OSABrands Uni­ver­sal Travel Adap­tor kit (to­tal value $107.85) with two USB ports ($44.95), OSABrands Dig­i­tal Lug­gage Scales ($32.95) and Ta­tonka RFID Pro­tected Pass­port Pouch ($29.95). More: osabrands.com.

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