‘First to see the sea: Memories of long car rides to the beach and days gone by’

Feb 14, 2021
Julie writes about how the family would pile into the car and head off toward the beach. Source: Tony Feder/Allsport/Getty Images

Many people are nostalgic for the good old days. As we muse, Baby Boomers can reflect on our younger days and ways. Long ago, in middle suburbia in our Australian way of life, my father bought a brand new Holden Special motor car, straight from the car showroom.

Ah, the inhalation of the new car! Lovely! It was one of the few cars in our street, and the only shiny new one. In those days, the shops and petrol stations all closed at midday on Saturdays and did not reopen until Monday morning. We all managed.

With excitement, one summer Saturday, my parents piled my two sisters and me, plus two of the neighbours’ girls, into the back of the hot car. The car had bench seats, no seatbelts, and no air-conditioning. We did not even know what that was. Hot and stuffy, all car windows were wound down for a stifling air flow. We were travelling to the beach, a day trip that took more than 90 minutes, along a very boring countryside.

We made our own fun. We counted how many horses we could see in the paddocks, and played ‘I spy’. We listened to the car radio, and our father taught us the necessary life skill of yodelling, like Frank Ifield, in the classic song, ‘I Remember You’.

It was bit of a squishy time in the back seat there, all clad in our dimpled togs, with frilly skirts, and feet clad in sandals. We were getting close!

“Right,” said my mum, “first to see the sea gets first swim.”

Simple fun, but this amused us in gazing intently through the thick ti-tree.

“First to see the sea!” I called. Yes, we glimpsed a sparkling blue bay, gentle waves, golden hot sands.

“Are we there yet?”

My father put up the beach umbrella, had a cup of tea from the thermos, and promptly went to sleep, after such a long, hot drive. My mum opened a novel, ditto on the cup of tea. I got first swim, then we all splashed and laughed. We waded past sand bars, and played sand castles. After that, we lay in the shallows, reading a pile of comics, before eating slightly sodden tomato sandwiches, and lamingtons. The taste of summer.

We were getting fat and brown, but what the heck! No swimming for an hour after lunch, that was the rule.

Hoping for a fish and chip shop, we reluctantly hopped back into the scorching car, on a quest, trying not to burn our legs on the seat. More luck, fresh fried fish
and minimum chips, hot and salted.

Sand-encrusted, home we drove in the late afternoon sunshine and dusk, practising our yodelling. Such a perfect day. I had been first to see the sea. I suppose I am sometimes nostalgic for the olden days, all vanished down memory lane.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up