As I am writing this post it is 40 degrees in hot and windy Melbourne. Next Monday the 26th January is Australia Day, so like a lot of people we are going to head down to the beach for a long weekend. My grandparents have a holiday house in Rosebud, which is about a one hour drive from Melbourne and is on the Mornington Peninsula.
The house is a short stroll from the front beach which is the bay. The water here is nice and calm...and free. That is one thing that differs from Australia and Europe - there are no private beaches here (well none that I know of. I am sure near hotels there may be some private beaches, but not like Italy where it can be hard to find the free public beach in tourist areas.) You just go to the beach and put your towel down anywhere you want. There is no paying for sun chairs, no umbrellas and best of all there are no people strolling along the waters edge trying to sell you stupid things or offer you a massage. Actually no one bothers you at all.
A short drive away in a town called Sorrento (much more posh and overpriced then Rosebud) and hereyou have the back beach, which we call the surf beach. This is the 'real thing', there are big waves which entice the surfers and the current is so strong that it can easily pull you under. When bel ragazzo and I were here 2 years ago we went to this beach, and even he - an ex-swimming instructor, commented that the force of the water can knock even a grown man down. (Or a grown woman a.k.a me...It was like getting smashed in the face as a wave knocked me down and I went under...struggling to come up for air. I cannot swim you see. Yes...yes...I know. I am the only Australian who cannot swim!)
You can see the tents set up on the beach. These days people take tents to the beach instead of an umbrella. Australian's are very sun smart - well you have to be here as Australia has the highest rate of skin caner in the world. Why you ask? We are directly under the ozone layer and you will get burnt within seconds if you have no sunscreen on. (The average time frame is actually 15 minutes.) Even my olive skinned bel ragazzo was shocked when he got burnt at 6pm sitting in the backyard without sunscreen on. Most children on the beach here will be wearing a rash vest - which is like the body suit surfers and divers wear. A lot of adults wear these too, along with hats, shorts and anything to cover them up. I must admit I felt a little strange in my bikini as only one other lady had one on! (I was wearing sunscreen and I do have olive skin so do not burn as much as others. Another interesting fact is that it is very difficult to by a sunscreen less then 30 SPF. I have 8 and 2SPF which I bought over from Italy and have not found these in any shops here. You have, have, have to wear sunscreen in Australia as even the most dark skinned of us will get burnt.)
The Australian sun motto is Slip Slop Slap. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. In Italy I only wear sunscreen when I go to the beach. Here in Melbourne I put it on even when I go out for a stroll to the shops. There is nothing worse then sunburn!