It’s how the idyllic Aussie summer is spent: on the beach. Swimming, surfing, fishing. Building sand castles. Eating fish and chips. Playing beach cricket. Feeling the sand between your toes, the salt in the air, and the wind through your hair. Ice cream, sunshine, beach hair.
But things are kind of different up here in the Top End.
In Summer, we look up at the sky, and would usually rather see heavy clouds promising monsoon rains than blue skies and sunshine.
And when we go down to the beach, not only is there no surf, but we have the threat of crocs (not the shoes ?) and deadly box jellyfish.
Maybe that is why my family loved going to stay with my Uncle Nath down at the Gold Coast for a week. Maybe the novelty of it all was what made the experience even better, even more memorable. Maybe that’s what made the unruly beach hair feel so blissfully wild and free. And the sand that settles everywhere feels like a welcome souvenir instead of a gritty surprise.
We loved spending ages in the sun, and laughing when we compared how tan we had become. We soaked in the strangely alive feeling you get when your nose, mouth and ears have been cleared out by a slap of salt water. We had fun playing French cricket on the beach, diving into the sand or water for a cracking catch. We watched Gabby get better and better at surfing, and shared around the body boards. We helped Jack dig trenches in the sand, and search for gold (or pippies, at least).
We usually try to visit the coast every year, because we love it so much.
It can seem strange to us when people who live close to a (swimming) beach don’t visit it that often.
“Why don’t you go to the beach more often? You live so close!”
Although, if I think about it, maybe people would say something similar to me, about the gorgeous Litchfield National Park.
I can’t say I always appreciate it with the same awe and excitement that tourists do.
We visit often enough that I am not always thrilled by gushing waterfalls, uncrowded rock holes, vibrant nature and cool waters. But it’s one of the main tourist draw cards for the Top End for good reasons. It is a stunning place.
What do the tourists come to your home for? Maybe there is some benefit in being a “tourist in your own town” sometimes: appreciating the sights we take for granted, but tourists find such wonder in.
Next time I go to Litchfield, I plan on taking a moment to soak it in, as though it’s my first time going.