This is proper cheating. One of my favourite winter beaches is on the other side of the world, where technically speaking, it’s summer. As in sizzling, 35 degree heat, summer. I’d actually like to just nip there just now, but Perth, Australia is a bloody long haul. Worth it, though; there’s a lot to love about Dog Beach.
My cousin put it best when she said “dog beach is a happy place”. It really is. Of all the beaches in Perth: long, soft golden-sanded expanses, pretty much deserted, Dog Beach is the busiest. That’s not busy by UK standards: it’s empty compared to Fistral in Newquay on a hot day, but on a balmy evening, there are plenty of people scattered on the sand. And dogs.
That’s another thing we loved: the way Dog Beach typifies an Aussie say-what-you-see approach to naming things. Dog beach is called dog beach because it’s a beach and you can take your dog there. Just as galahs are called ‘pink and greys’ because they’re pink and grey, and Shark Bay is a bay where sharks can be found.
Sharks were the only sharp-toothed, potentially deadly downside to Perth beaches. Probably because I’m a pom, I was terrified that there’d be several great whites lurking just beyond the breakers ready to snack on one of my children. I’d eat them if I were a shark. My cousin and sister’s Perth-born husbands were both very philosophical about the shark threat, and logically I knew that an attack was very unlikely, but still, we stayed in the shallows.
Our trip to Perth was incredible. We were there for Christmas following the birth of my nephew, my sister’s first baby. She’d been living there for a couple of years with her husband, and our cousin was living a few streets away with the man who’s now her husband and their three dogs. In fact, this beach is the place where he later proposed.
They took us to Dog Beach one evening. The Aussies tend to visit the beach early in the morning or in the evening, otherwise it’s too hot. There’s something wonderful about being able to bathe in the sea and golden, evening sun. The atmosphere is one of peace, contentment and relaxation that you don’t really get in the UK. I guess it’s the knowledge that these endless summer evenings are yours. It’s a lovely way to live.
Dog Beach is just north of Hillary’s, a harbour development with shops and restaurants that I’ll write about another time, and south of Horse Beach (guess what happens there!). It’s about a kilometre of white sand, lapped by clear water. It’s quite exposed to the wind, so the waves can get to a decent size, though when we went it was pretty tranquil.
We played with the children and dogs in the surf, the dogs swimming quite far out to fetch sticks the way dogs do. I watched for sharks, mostly, while my cousin watched their dear old, deaf (and now sadly departed) dog from wandering off with the wrong people.
The air and water temperature is quite warm enough in December to sit in the breakers, which is also an unusual experience for a British person. This was lucky, really, because as much as I’d have loved to have swum properly, the Jaws theme-tune was playing on repeat in my head.
Still, it was undoubtedly one of the happiest, most golden places I’ve ever been. A place where for the time you’re there, everything is right with the world. A place where human and canine joy abounds.
In memory of Rover and Kaiser