Woohoo! Summer is coming to Australia and the folk in Sydney will tell you that the weather has been unusually warm already. Spring has already Sprung as our seasons change over on the 01st of the month. This means it is time to start prepping to do what we do best and go to the beach! So here are my 11 tips on how to stay safe when visiting Australian beaches for all our Canadian and American clients.
1/ Slip, slop, slap! This was an Aussie TV campaign for many many years and most Aussies will know what it means. When going to the beach make sure that you slip on or bring a long sleeve shirt/pants, slop on some good sunscreen ( water proof and good UV protection) and slap on a hat ( one that covers your face and neck well!). Do not be fooled and think that because it is an overcast day that you will not get burned. You may see many aussies even wearing a t-shirt in the water. Skin Cancer awareness is pushed on us a lot so we are very aware of it. Please do not be one of these silly people who lay in the sun hours upon hours. Looking like a lobster is not only painful but so not pretty.
In fact most schools have a rule for young kids “No hat no play” .
2/ When GoWalkabout Travel staff book any sort of tours for you which may involve some time in the sun. i.e a surfing lesson, or the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb we take into consideration the time of day and the weather. If it is mid summer we are usually not going to book you during the heat of the day. Most Aussies try and avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day. On some days when it can get as high as 45c we avoid outside all together!
3/ We have tides in Australia. If you are going for a wander on a beach then make sure you know when the tide may be coming in! Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas is a classic to get trapped by tides on. In the northern regions of Australia they will often have tide and weather info at the hotel reception. Anywhere else you can look online or just ask.
4/ Please be smart and swim between the flags! At major beaches in Australia i.e Bondi Beach which is a national icon we have surf life guards. You will often see on the beach flags which they have put up for locals and tourists to swim between for safety. Swim between them! Year after year these poor surf life guards have to rescue complete and utter clowns who have not swam in these safe areas. They put their own life at risk and others as well. The flags are up for a reason to keep you safe! The life guards have been checking if there are any rips in the water which may drag you out to sea etc. If you are silly enough to swim outside of the flags and do need to be rescued- expect some not so nice abuse from the people that rescue you.
5/ Learn what rips are. It is really important to not fight them if you do get caught in one. It helps if you swim in an area where there are surf life guards and between the flags! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rip_current
6/ Watch out for jellyfish. If you are swimming in the areas that I mentioned above then surf life guards also have vinegar and other first aid gear to help you. Some aussies even take their own vinegar with them. Of course we all know that you can urinate on someone as well for a jellyfish sting- but vinegar sounds way more pleasant! If you are in the north and it is anywhere between the end of Sept to approx. May then ask the locals if the box jelly fish are out. You can usually tell if there are stinger nets on the beaches. You can swim in the nets but I personally prefer sticking to the hotel swimming pools. Do not be silly and not swim in the nets, or you could be in the cargo area of the aircraft for your trip home.
7/ Yes, I know you are all going to say sharks! I am not going to lie they are out there. Many of the beaches in Sydney have shark nets around them. If you are swimming (once again where there are surf life guards) if there are any sightings you will hear the siren go off. Most cities have helicopters flying over watching as well. Do not be silly and suddenly go swimming on your own out in deep water or at night time.
8/ Watch your personal items at all times. Aussie beaches are a great way for struggling backpackers to get some extra money together to continue on with their trip.
9/ Watch where you walk! Whilst walking with sand between your toes is considered enjoyable to some people. It is very important to watch where you are walking on the beaches in Australia. Some beaches are swept in the morning but many are not. This means who knows who has been down there at night and what they have left in the sand. Remember the tide can cover things up. I prefer to wear flip flops or thongs as we call them in Australia. The sand can get hot but I have no desire to step on a piece of glass. Just watch where you walk!
10/ Drink lots of fluids! By that I mean water! It is so easy to get dehydrated in our sun. Sun stroke is not fun. I have had it numerous times and it can catch you by surprise.
11/ Have fun!
So there you have it folk. There are other things I could add but the above pretty much covers it. If anyone is interested in learning more about beach/swimming safety and what surf life savers do then let us know. We have some interesting tours available which will give you the lowdown on staying safe.
Remember that GoWalkabout Travel staff are here to assist our clients with staying safe the best way we can. You are dealing with local Aussies who have had a dose of sunburn, a jelly fish sting and sunstroke one to many times in their lives!