CUWAM: The fourth Beach of Christmas: Little Austi and a child’s first swim

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The fourth beach of Christmas is a beach in my childhood home, Austinmer. Little Austi Beach, a unpatrolled strip of sand and surf nestled in between two headlands.

A beach which is perfect place for a summer dip, to float and frolic in the clear blue ocean. My Father refers to Little Austi beach as ‘ Tea Bag Beach’, for on hot summer days, as far as the eye can see are people, young and old, bobbing up and down in the water. I rather like this name and think that Dad should put this suggestion to local council.

Ah Little Austi / Tea Bag beach….you are a friend to all. Dogs roam off leash, children collect shells and swim in the rock pools, surfers catch waves that form out past the rock shelves, teenage girls soak up the sun, and in the good old days, when Headlands Hotel served ice-cold beer all summer long, locals and tourists alike sat on the hill, looking out at the sublime view that encompassed both Tea Bag and the Illawarra coastline….

Today my cousin from Victoria, his wife and baby treated us to a post-Christmas visit on their homeward journey. Tea Bag beach had been mentioned as the perfect place for their daughters first ever swim.

With most of the Illawarra beaches still closed due to dangerous surfing conditions, an alternate swimming hole was required. As luck would have it my family have been entrusted to look after a backyard swimming pool till January 2nd. And whilst it seems indulgent to bathe in a home pool with the ocean minutes away,with the beach off-limits today, it was perfect for our 8 month old visitors first ever swim.

My family felt very privileged to watch in wonder and amazement at the joy the water brought to our little guest…The backyard swimming pool was perfect, the water temperature was mild, the swimming conditions mostly calm ( except for the occasional water splash….mandatory pool behaviour!!)

And whilst it had been hoped that Little Austi/ Tea Bag Beach would provide the essential ingredients for an important milestone to be reached today, that of a child’s first swim, the beach was trumped by the humble backyard swimming pool.

Pool or beach, salt water or clorine….a swim is often just a swim, but it is the people who you share it with that add the magic and create lasting memories.

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