• Alex Habilay and Rebecca Fawcett-Smith

The Flipside: To Beach or Not To Beach


He Says:

The beach has been a place of scrutiny since the release of ‘Jaws’. To me, it is soothing. Baking my feet in the hot sand, soaking in the sun, and washing the heat off in rolling waves is the quintessential summer – but apparently to some even the word sand make’s their skin panic.

Though we’re a nation built primarily of beach bums, there are oddities among us that would rather walk on carpet than sand. Here are a few tips on how to spot them:

  • Only going ankle deep

  • More time spent in selfies than in the water

  • Constant glare-off with sun and sand

  • Always spitting out either sand or salt water

  • Complains about premature sunburn

  • No hat

  • Only ever insults beach, never complimentary

If you spot one of these Aussie oddities (commonly referred to as ‘lobsters’), battling gusts of sand, don’t mock them. Hand them some 50+ SPF sunblock, a sand-proof towel, and tell them the directions to South Bank. The shark from ‘Jaws ‘couldn’t survive those chlorine waters, but they were built for a ‘lobster’.

She Says:

‘It’s complicated’ sums up my relationship with the beach. I love going there to hear the waves crashing, feel the wind on my face, and marvel at the glittering, mysterious vastness of the ocean. Being there gives me an inner peace, and it is the place where I can always find myself.

Then there is the water. Most of my beach outings see me standing at the water’s edge like a meerkat sentry, scanning the surface for potential threats while my family frolic in the waves. Just as spectators held their breaths when Australian surfer Mick Fanning disappeared behind a wave after being attacked by a shark, I am on high alert, anticipating danger.

‘Jaws’ is the culprit. After seeing it as a child, the image of a predator rising from the deep beneath completely oblivious swimmers has been imprinted on my psyche. It even (for a time), ruined night swimming in backyard pools. Yes, I know statistically the chances of being attacked are slim, but the fear of feeling that tug, of being eaten alive, leaves me quite literally high and dry.

So my relationship with the beach is of the love-hate variety, and to King Neptune I say with all sincerity, ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’


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