Summers

 

On one extraordinarily long day that’s actually three, David Whitley visits two famous beaches on two continents.

 

With the possible exception of Santa Monica, Malibu Beach is arguably the most famous beach in the United States. In a way, it is indicative of Los Angeles’ sprawl – it feels like an incredibly long, stressful drive to downtown from there, but it is still regarded as part of the city. The Malibu sands stretch out for miles as well, prettying up the development that spreads along the California coastline north of LA.

 

 

For anyone other than Big Lebowski connoisseurs (“Get out of my beach community!�?), Malibu is the fabled home of ludicrous plotlines, red floatation devices and Pamela Anderson’s bounding breasts. It is, of course, where Baywatch was filmed.

 

The Hoff and company can’t be found there any more, alas, but the lifeguard towers still remain. As we parked up, a resolute guard looked watchfully out to sea, and a fleet of rescue vehicles sat in the car park. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, and it appeared as though every skinny rich kid in the LA area had descended on Malibu.

 

It is not a place you go to if you want a representative snapshot of LA’s diversity. For such a multi-ethnic city, Malibu appears to be something of an upper middle class white ghetto. It’s also a terrible place to go to if you happen to be over the age of 22. You’ll start to feel old very quickly.  We wanted to stop at Malibu for a couple of hours to break the journey to LAX airport. But it wouldn’t be the only famous beach we stopped at before finally getting to bed.

 

Flying across the Pacific is weird. No matter how many times I cross the International Date Line, I’m doomed to remain perpetually confused. Our flight from LA left late on April 16th, and we arrived in Sydney on the morning of April 18th. April 17th didn’t exist for us, yet it felt like one extraordinarily long day

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We’d finally get to rest our heads in the Hunter Valley, but despite being clad in clothes I’d really rather change out of, I foolishly insisted on a detour. We would go to Sydney’s northern beaches, largely because I wanted to eat barramundi overlooking Pittwater at the Newport Arms. The northern beaches and Barrenjoey Peninsula are a scandalously unsung part of Sydney. While everyone flocks to Bondi, Coogee and Manly, they’re missing out on the city’s most glorious beaches. The peninsula is a narrow spit, flanked by the Tasman Sea on one side and the boat-crammed Pittwater on the other. It’s beautiful, and it’s no wonder that some of the most expensive houses in Australia can be found there.

 

The last stretch of sand on the peninsula is Palm Beach, and as we attempted to park, a flustered chubby chap frantically waved for us to move to another spot. I wondered what the jobsworth’s point was until I saw the TV cameras. Whilst the show that made Malibu famous is long gone, Palm Beach still stands in as Summer Bay. Home and Away is still regularly shot here, generally about once a week, and we’d struck lucky. Running through their scenes were a couple of spindly kids who are probably famous (but not to me as I’ve not seen the show since the days of Pippa, Michael and their zillion fake children).

 

Adolescent actors aside, Palm Beach still retains its enormous beauty. Unlike Malibu, there’s hardly anyone on it and it just feels special. Standing there, I knew I was back on the side of the Pacific I’ve long been hopelessly in love with. And, pleasingly, the name of Mr A. Stewart can be found on the sign above the surf club...