The beach has many faces

I’ve just returned from spending the Easter long weekend at our family holiday house down at Phillip Island. At least once every visit I like to walk into town (Cowes) along the beach for breakfast. And every time I make this little half-hour pilgrimage for coffee and eggs, I find myself marvelling at the many different faces of our beach.

The phrase “shifting sands” may be a cliche, but it is also true. Although our leisurely route takes us past familiar markers — concrete boat ramp… rocky outcrop and around the point… storm water drain by the camping ground… rickety timber boat ramp — each takes on a new and fascinating personality with every encounter.

Some days, the storm water drain has carved out a creek, requiring us to clamber up the grassy hill above where the pipes come out to avoid getting our feet wet.

The rocks on the point may be mostly covered, or standing proud in jagged relief. Sometimes, the timber boat ramp stands a metre above the sand, requiring a big step up and a heady jump down… or else the sand might have built right up to the platform so that we barely notice it’s there.

Sometimes the seaweed covers the beach like a fungal disease; other times the golden sand is pristine and clean.

Yet some facets of the beach are constant too. The seagulls usually flock around the water’s edges, while the endangered plovers patrol the beach in pairs to protect their nesting ground. The wild beach grasses thrust up through the sand in clumps. And always the waves roll in, incessant and irregular, relentless and timeless.

There is nothing quite like the continuously shifting beach landscape to remind us of the shear everyday beauty and power of nature. The winds and ocean tides swirl and pound and shape endessly — stamping their authority on the world irrespective of whether we witness it or not.

I love the beach for all these reasons, but often feel humbled by it too. What emotions does the beach inspire in you? Does the wild beauty of a remote beach appeal — or are you more likely to be found on a beach towel soaking up rays?

 

20 comments

  1. I love the beach and mountains because both put life in proper perspective for me. The wild beauty of a remote beach definitely appeals – it’s just almost impossible to find one in NC. The beachfront is wall to wall homes and the beach itself (in the summer months), wall to wall bodies on beach towels. I’ve occasionally walked the tide line at 2am to experience it without the mass of humanity the daylight brings.

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    1. Gosh, can’t imagine not having access to a rural beach. The 2am option sounds like a plan!

      I love mountains too… In fact probably more than the beach. A post for another day I think!

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        1. Alas no. We don’t get snow in any of our cities or beaches. If we’re really lucky we get enough snow in the ‘mountains’ for a decent ski season. (not that I ski…) Snow is not really our thing.

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          1. That’s too bad. I thought I would hate snow when I first moved to a place where it happens, but it turns out I really love it. I’d probably feel different if I lived in a house, instead of an apartment, and had to shovel it.

            But even without snow, I enjoy the colder parts of the year more than the warmer ones. I bet walking on the beach during winter is pretty amazing.

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  2. I love going to the beach, though here in Oregon we call it “the coast”. I prefer a warm, sunny beach on which to play over the Oregon coast but you can’t beat it for storm watching and sheer dramatic beauty.

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    1. Funny how terms vary regionally. Coast is technically true – though probably a broader term. The Oregon coast sounds beautiful. Would live to visit it one day. The closest I’ve managed is Seattle.

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  3. Yay, I found a way to comment!

    Where I live at the moment I’m very close to the beach. With the sea coming in. I love watching waves come towards land and break over sand and rock.

    It’s peaceful. I really love watching it and hearing it. I’ll miss it when I move this summer.

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  4. I just love these photos! They show the beach just how I like it best. Empty of bodies, yet full to brimming with the sights and sounds of nature. I especially like a beach with some rocky terain, since it deters wall-to-wall body traffic AND allows for convenient seating during surf-watching sessions 🙂

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    1. Yes, I completely agree. I just love rambling along a deserted beach, rock-scrambling too. The coast of Phillip Island has many wonderful beaches/coastal areas, each with a different personality. I might write a post about the south coast, which has grassy cliffs and wild surf, one day!

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  5. Beaches are so different depending on where you are. I grew up spending a few weeks each summer in Ocean City, MD where the very sandy stretches of beach went on and on and on — all clean, fine-grained sand as far as the eye can see. Now I live in a coastal town in Massachusetts (I live less than a mile from many beaches) and the beaches are much more rocky and even where there is an expanse of sand it is a thicker grain and not as soft underfoot. Funny thing is I have grown to prefer the rocky beaches (natives to this town will think I am crazy to call these beaches rocky) because they are physically so interesting. We only get 2-3 months a year where swimming in the ocean is bearable, so our beaches are not jam packed most of the time, which makes walking on them, especially at sunrise or sunset a wonderful experience. One day, I’d love to see the beaches on the other side of the world where you live.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your beaches, Sara – they sound wonderful. I think the amazing thing about beaches, or the coast, is that they are all so different. Even the coast around Phillip Island changes as you go around. (It’s a fairly small island.) The southern coast is all wild grassy cliffs, plus there’s the major tourist attraction of where the penguins come in each day. Elswehere there are dunes, or rocks, and even an estuary with waterbirds and mangroves!

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