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Name: knitabulous
Location: Mt Keira, New South Wales, Australia

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Surf's up

11 Apr 2006

There's been a groundswell on the East coast of NSW the likes of which we haven't seen for 40 years. This has been caused by cyclone Wati.

There is a little natural phenomenon in that cute little tourist town (that one off highway robbery) where we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon recently. It's called the Kiama blowhole. It's a gap in the rocks where the surf surges in and when there's a good swell, it causes a column of water to shoot up in the air, easy twenty metres high.

So, with the surf up allegedly bigger than it's been in my lifetime, we headed to the headland to sit and watch her majesty.

And we weren't the only ones.

The violence and the power, it was a humbling sight. Such a difference from the flat soup of the meditteranean and tropical islands where you can wade out for hundreds of metres before it gets waist deep - no wonder they call the undertow at Bondi 'backpackers rip'. Me, I much prefer a bit of adrenaline with my sunburn thank you very much.

Speaking of which, have any of you been watching that Bondi rescue show on TV? I love it, I think it captures perfectly the australian beach culture, the pre-teen grommets who are clearly half salt, the ancient men and women who take a dip every day rain hail or shine, the showponies, the families - all here, all welcome.

The lazy laconic sense of humour and comeraderie of the lifesavers is delightful, and there's a wonderful insight into the naiivety of the tourists who are completely unaware that if you venture into the surf for a dip, it is necessary that you know how to swim.

Of course there's the compulsory TV sensationalism to do with bluebottles and sharks, enough to terrify the toughest of European travellers.

A bluebottle sting in my childhood was, whilst obviously painful, not a very big deal. Dad would rub a bit of sand in it, a bit of a 'never mind' from mum, a mouthful of warm cordial and then back to whatever you were doing.

To see these grown ups hyperventilating and fainting and moaning like they're on death's door because of a bluebottle sting is quite fascinating, because it's not the pain so much as the shock that causes it.

Growing up in this place where the spiders, the snakes, the creepy crawlies, the bluebottles and the sharks are just part of the fabric of life. It's not as though you see them every day.

If you get stung by a bluebottle down the beach it's going to hurt like mad for a few minutes and then it's going to be alright. It won't kill you. We learn this as kids, so a) we know what they look like and we avoid them and b) if we do get stung we know what to expect.

I imagine if you didn't know this and you were minding your own business standing in calf deep water having a dream holiday moment when suddenly your leg felt like it was being injected with poison you may not be able to take it all calmly.

But my oh my, when a shirtless adonis appears and carries you from the sand and into the surfclub where he rubs stingose on it all the while speaking reassuring words and smoothing your hair, well, it might be worth it.

Watch it, you might like it.

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