Pee with the surf girls

Detail of women's public toilets show a female with surfboard at Middleton Beach in South Australia.

Middleton Beach in South Australia has many attractions: surfing waves, hooded plovers, brown balls, and the women’s toilets.

When you arrive, just park off Esplanade. Use the concrete-mounted binoculars to watch the surfers out on the breaks. Follow the stone steps down to the change room kiosk. Wash off your feet if they’re sandy. Pour some water for your dog.  It’s all here.

You’ve got to, you know, go?

Turn around and check out the mural. A white figure of a woman on a surfboard points you to the female toilets and change room. How fun is that?

If you need an all-access space, wheel your chair right in. There’s a surfboard for you too.

Here at Middleton, even if you’re not surfing, you can pee like a surfer—on dry land, anyways.

Women's public toilets show a female with surfboard at Middleton Beach in South Australia.
Women’s and all-access public toilets at Middleton Beach in South Australia.

Ride a bike on the driving beach

Bicycle on Sellicks Beach in South Australia. (photo:

Why drive when you can cycle?

I brought my motorcycle helmet to Australia because I figured it would be hot and hilly. A motorbike would be a great way to beat that. But I didn’t figure how the coastlines, vineyards, and breezy ranges here on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula make me want to go slow, real slow.

Sure it’s 40-degrees Celsius out there, I tell myself. But I’ve done this before: in Baja, Thailand, Cuba, and India. And that was usually loaded with touring gear.

I borrowed a hybrid bike from my host Ruth and set out.

From Willunga I pedaled a zig-zag route to Sellicks beach. Locals know Sellicks as “the driving beach.” You can drive your vehicle right on the sand—albeit at a snail-like ten kilometres per hour. I wheeled the bike onto the beach, climbed on the saddle, and stepped down on the pedals.

The bike rolled as if I was on pavement! Plus, the breeze off St. Vincent Gulf was refreshing with just a hint of a tailwind. It reminded me of a similarly heavenly ride I did cycling on Majorda Beach in Goa, India. I raced past 4-wheel drive cars and SUVs at a blazing 18 kilometres per hour.

No girlfriend

I turned off the beach where it turned into a wildlife sanctuary. In the parking lot I took a drink of water and admired a neon-green Kawasaki motorbike on the back of a guy’s pick-up truck. He caught me looking.

“Nice bike!” I grinned.

“Yeah, thanks.” He looked over, then motioned to a pile of bags in his passenger side. “I broke up with my girlfriend. Hey, where you ride from?” I told him I’d started about 20 kilometres back. He heard my Canadian accent and then asked the usual questions: Where you from? What brings you here? How long you here for?

“I broke up with my girlfriend,” he said again.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said as I pointed my bike homewards. “It being Christmas time and all. Good luck to you.”

Driving the driving beach

Later that week, Jared, Ruth, Tilly, and Delilah and I returned to “the driving beach.” This time I was inside an air-conditioned hatchback packed with surf and snorkel gear.

Ruth and Jared next to surfboard-equipped car on Aldinga Beach, South Australia.
Ruth and Jared (with Tilly and Delilah inside) with their surfboard-equipped family car at Aldinga Beach, South Australia.

The beach was beautiful the second time around, but it wasn’t as much fun driving on it as it was cycling it.

“Look out for the deep sand, Dad!” called out five-year old Delilah from her booster seat in the back.

I still haven’t decided if I’ll travel around South Australia by motorcycle or bicycle after Christmas. But I’ll keep borrowing bicycles until I decide…


Find a stairway to heaven

Staircase descending to Port Noarlunga beach in South Australia.

In South Australia, a stairway to heaven goes down, not up.

It starts from a road where you park your sand-carpeted hatchback. There’s a industrial-size tub of SPF50 sun lotion in the back with the towels. It’s got a pump so you can slap it on fast.

Faster than it takes to pull on your wetsuit. It’s thick neoprene rubber and if you’re lucky, you’ve got a buddy nearby who’ll pull the back zip for you. If she’s local, she’ll tell you how the surf looks before you even peer over the rail.

When you do, you see an expanse of blue with strips of white foam. They curl and break like slow-motion music. If you’re a surfer, that’s heaven.

I’m staying in South Australia with Jared Thomas, author of Calypso Summer and Songs That Sound Like Blood. He loves to write. And he loves to surf.

He tells me he’s going to show me how, sometime soon.

Author Jared Thomas in surf gear at Goolwa Beach, South Australia. (photo:
Author Jared Thomas at Goolwa Beach, South Australia. The stairway to heaven in the feature photo above is Port Noarlunga Beach.

Resist a shark-repelling surfboard wax

Chillax organic share-repellant surfboard wax in Australia.

Chillax is a wax that you dot on the top side of your surfboard. It’s designed to offend sharks. It’s organic.

According to Chillax’s Common Sense Surf Company Facebook page, Chillax Wax is “…heavily dosed with four organic essential oils and four strong spices.” I spoke to the inventor of the wax at the weekly Green Light Eco Market. He hinted that one of those essential spices is chili pepper.

There’s been some speculation on what the other ingredients might be.  One wag offered, “Chili peppers and other strong spices? Isn’t that what you’d tenderize a piece of meat with…?”

Me, I’m just learning to surf so rest assured I’ll stay in shallower, less-shark-infested waters.

And I can’t help but think the wax looks like a creamy, custardy, and spicy crème brûlée.

Chillax organic share-repellant surfboard wax in Australia.
Chillax organic shark-repellent surfboard wax looks tempting as crème brûlée. Does that make me a shark…?

The Chillax people hint that Version 2 of the wax will be even more repugnant to sharks:

“Chillax is an ongoing project of investigation and innovation; but with the help of consumers and supporters it will be made redundant by our second envisioned product – a shark repelling surf wax.

“This will be Chillax with a treated and olfactorily-tolerable Necromone, the scent of necrotic or rotting shark. This appalling stench makes sharks flee.”

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