At home, we live about as far from the sea as it is possible to be in the UK. So one of the best things about where we are staying in Australia is that we are just five minutes’ walk from the beach.
When you think about locations of the world’s great beaches, which places spring to mind? California or Hawaii, maybe? Or perhaps the south of France, the Caribbean or Thailand? Even if Australia did occur to you, it’s probably Sydney’s Bondi or Manly beaches that popped into your head.
That’s part of the beauty of Western Australia, though. It is home to mile upon mile of picture postcard golden beaches that are (at least) a match for all the above. However, as it doesn’t attract tens of thousands of holidaymakers who then cram into every available square centimetre, its beaches are uncrowded and one of Australia’s best kept secrets. Local beaches for local people, as they might have said on The League of Gentlemen.
Everywhere you look along WA’s coastline there are beautiful beaches, whether it’s in more tourist-focussed centres such as Rottnest Island (the image above is a panoramic view of Longreach Bay) or random coastal spots in Perth’s urban sprawl such as Rockingham, where we’ve been staying.
It has become part of my routine here to go for an early morning stroll along the boardwalk in Rockingham. It’s a beautiful walk. In many of the cafes along the beach-front, locals enjoy breakfast with a view of the Indian Ocean. It’s a far cry from my usual walk at home through our housing estate to our Waitrose or Costa in Thatcham town centre!
The kids have quickly become accustomed to spending afternoons on the beach too. Sometimes they paddle in the clear, shallow water. At other times they will construct elaborate cities and waterway systems – the sand is fine and perfect for building.
Once they’re off the beach, a park runs the length of the busiest central stretch. There are multiple playgrounds to enjoy – nine in the space of barely a kilometre – all with shaded picnic tables and benches for parents to watch from without being roasted alive. And at the end of the day when everyone has worked up an appetite, we’ve bought fish and chips and sat on the grass eating and watching the sun go down.
Oh, and there’s more than enough parking to cope with even the busiest of weekends. Better still, it’s free all day. Can you imagine that happening in the UK?
Even on a Saturday morning in summer, a ‘busy’ day on Rockingham beach is far from crowded. It’s nothing like popular beaches in the UK such as Weymouth or West Wittering, where in the height of summer you have to mark out and defend your own space. The kids were able to play uninterrupted while we watched on from the comfort of a shaded grassy bank.
If this sounds idyllic, that’s because it pretty much is idyllic.
We’ve been in Australia for nine days now. I asked the kids yesterday what their favourite part of their holiday so far is. Each of them immediately said “the beach”.
I have to agree with them. Having easy access to such great beaches both on our doorstep and further up and down the coast has been fantastic. We’re all really going to miss them when we leave.