The marine environment was always sort of fundamental to my life. It was always a big factor. I mean I — I think that’s — I guess I never really remembered a time when I wasn’t — if I wasn’t at the beach, I was thinking about being at the beach, that was for sure. That would cover my 12 years of school.1 Sadly we always went to school — if it wasn’t inside of the sea and you could smell the sea from the open windows, it was like torture. We’d get through these endless, quiet afternoons, the flies buzzed around and you could smell the sea. And if we were really unlucky, we could hear the swell from the kind of playing fields of the school, at the high school at least. You could see the reefs breaking out of the ocean, so we always knew what we were missing out on. At my high school, there tended to be a lot of, shall we say, unexplained absences after lunch time, we’d just — we would bolt.
So, the sea was all — yeah, it was our playground. The edge of the sea was where we went for fun and mischief, we all fell in love on the beach, everyone had their first sexual experiences at the beach.2 We got away from adult supervision at the beach. Of course the further out you went from the beach, the safer you were from prying eyes, we spent a lot of time underwater doing extremely dangerous and reckless and exciting things. And I guess being a child of the 60s, it was also that period in Australian history, where there was this kind of emergent, unexamined and not very well articulated nationalism, which was a kind of a generational response to Britain, because there had always been a kind of a colony, and then it was in this sort of post colonial for a long time, and I think beach culture really was a kind of a point of distinction from being what we had been told we were, which was like second rate English people, yeah, or at least second rate English people or first rate English people didn’t surf and spearfish and sail and swim like we could. It was a kind of a crazy culture of muscular physicality and slightly moronic hedonism, a hell of a lot of fun.