Cool dis­cov­er­ies at the beach

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

Even though the air tem­per­a­ture is warm, the surf is cold at Kill­care Beach, on the NSW cen­tral coast, at least when you first dip a foot. My friend ap­proaches the wa­ter with such trep­i­da­tion it’s as if she thinks it might sud­denly bite off her toes. She is a north­ern Euro­pean trans­plant and claims the sea al­ways has “the ap­pear­ance of freez­ing­ness” and should be treated with cau­tion and re­spect.

My hus­band is from Mel­bourne and he has this thing about cold wa­ter, too, and won’t go into the ocean un­less there is prac­ti­cally steam com­ing off it, like a ket­tle on the boil. “The back beach at Port­sea,” he mum­bles at me with a far­away look in his eye. “My grand­fa­ther used to throw me in …”

And so we take hol­i­days in places such as Fiji, where the la­goon wa­ter leaves you nicely poached and call­ing for icy drinks.

I point out to him I first en­tered the sea in south­east Eng­land, a re­gion not known for its trop­i­cal warmth. I would have been about five years old and my swim­suit was made of wool and al­ways had loose threads. I lived in fear of it un­rav­el­ling in front of amazed beach­go­ers but maybe that took my mind off the wa­ter tem­per­a­tures along the coast of Sus­sex, which must have been un­wel­com­ingly low.

Many decades on and a re­fresh­ing dip is just the tonic. While Him­self (and scep­ti­cal north­ern friend) re­main lodged in the sand, I am in and out of the surf, which in­deed is freez­ing, but in a good and en­liven­ing way. And then we walk along the beach un­til we come to this ex­tra­or­di­nary rock with its surf-scored stri­a­tions and tex­tures. It is amid a clus­ter of other sim­i­larly ro­bust boul­ders near our beach’s rock pool, or “lemon­ade la­goon” as we call it when the waves rush in and fizz about your feet.

I imag­ine I see in its con­tours the mighty cliffs of the Na Pali Coast on the Hawai­ian is­land of Kauai. Or is it a sleep­ing mon­ster, hun­kered but dan­ger­ous. At least we three are united in our ad­mi­ra­tion for Mother Na­ture and agree the word cool will do just fine.

Fol­low on In­sta­gram: @su­sankuro­sawa

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