Winter Sunday at Alex Headland

August on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. It’s not the low season at all, its heaven on earth for the Grey Nomads in their caravans, and we locals get to wear ugg boots, snuggle under layers, and enjoy the respite from the heat of summer and the clarity of the days.

It’s crisp and clear, warm enough to hit the beach during the day, cold enough to sleep well at night without AC, and there are flocks of white corellas wheeling and sparkling over the lake outside my office window every morning.

But it’s Sunday today, I have a visitor up from wintry Melbourne, an ex-Sunshine Coaster, and I want him to have a memorable day, one I will remember too since I am leaving the Coast myself shortly.

We wake early, and after a brief conference wrapped in doona’s on the balcony, we walk over the Bluff in company with the fiercely intent and the social exercisers, the dog walkers, and some on the ‘walk of shame’ home from the nightclubs at Mooloolaba. It’s very early and very cold and there’s a pinkness to the air as the sun clears Point Cartwright and is reflected in the calm ocean. No swell at all so there’s a cluster of surfers in hoodies not wetsuits drinking coffee on the wooden look out and looking disappointed, only the kayakers are out this morning.

The tide’s way low, so we stroll along the hard sand to Alex surf club for a leisurely breakfast outside at the kiosk. It’s heating up as the sun rises, by the time we have eaten and read the paper we are toasty warm. We shed a layer and head for the markets at Fishermans Road for fresh produce – and then shed another layer and take books back over to the beach, calling at the bakers for a takeaway coffee. Tucked up under the she-oaks we while away the morning watching the beach fill up, soon there are groups of children up and down the water’s edge digging and splashing and chasing balls while lifeguards and parents maintain a benevolent watch, and couples walking dogs wend their way through it all.

Back home to shower the sand off, jeans and tee-shirts, cold beer, whip up a salad and grab steaks, fill the esky, and off to a BBQ lunch with friends. They have a huge north-facing verandah and the view across to the mountains in the far distance is breathtakingly clear. We had thought to drive up into the hinterland this afternoon, stopping to hear the bellbirds and to visit crystalline creeks in the Kenilworth rainforests, but instead we bask in the sunshine and enjoy fresh prawns and good company and a makeshift game of cricket with the kids in the street.

The shadows are lengthening, the temperature is dropping, we walk back along the seashore and stop for a last beer on the rock wall to watch the sun go down, my friend turns to me and says “This is how I remember the sunny coast” and I think, so shall I.

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