Here & Now with S Sorrensen - Jan 14

Byron, Thursday, 1.30pm

Finding a car park in Byron at this time of year is like finding love. You have to spend a lot of time prowling the streets and, ultimately, you have to be very lucky.

I guess I’m just lucky.

After doing the circuit past Main Beach a few times trailing a conga line of cars also searching for that elusive empty car space, I was almost ready to head for a less populated area like Ballina.

I like Ballina. It has a river. And hamburgers under $15. And women in clothes.

But I and my three companions scored big time with a park here at The Pass.

We parked next to an immaculate purple Subaru Impreza. Sun shades on every window protected the interior. The owner obviously knew the damage the sun could do. Next to a red P, above a bumper sticker that read ‘ Twilight Addict’, and near a metal badge that said ‘Impreza’, was a number plate that read ‘MPREZA’. (Yep, it was an Impreza, for sure.)

So, I’m standing, wet and salty, in the shade of a tree near the cafe at The Pass.

A couple of big leafy trees spread their generous shade over the grassed area between the toilets, the outdoor shower and the cafe. A middle-aged man with a hairy paunch and an expensive gold watch is talking seriously to a middle-aged woman with a gold bikini and a cream sarong knotted around her waist. She’s showing lots of tanned skin, creased and hard like old leather. They walk hurriedly towards the cafe, neither looking at the other.

Near the outdoor showers a family has taken over the wooden picnic table, spreading their boogie boards, towels and beach bags on it. A girl of about four stands on the table doing a Wiggles dance as her mum tries to get a dress on her.

I too am trying to get dressed. I’m changing from my swimming shorts into my sarong. I’m doing that Aussie thing of pulling my shorts down from under the sarong. But there seems to be a hitch. The sarong has caught in the shorts and it feels like both may come tumbling down.

The ocean is perfect today. Clear, cool. My swim was delicious. I could have spent an hour playing in the surf but I didn’t. I stayed about five minutes. I don’t like the sun. Well, I do. I live on solar power and if there was no sun I couldn’t watch Biggest Loser. Or grow mangoes. Or have a vodka at sunset. But I don’t like it to touch my body. It burns me. It makes cancers.

But here I’m in the land of the sun worshippers. (The sun is a star here.)

As I scampered back from the water across that inhospitable desert we call the beach, I could see through squinted eyes from under the towel over my head, hundreds of almost naked bodies lying there, shimmering in the sun. Acres of exposed flesh burning. Some flesh was brown; some pink; some flaming red. (The flaming redskins I passed sipped on VB stubbies and talked with English accents.)

Behind them, two naked breasts lay, heat-struck and slumped, atop a young body turning crispy. Its young face, eyes closed, seemed happy frying.

Beside her, a purple bikini top and a copy of Twilight: New Moon hunkered next to a water bottle and Subaru car keys.

I finally free my shorts with an ungraceful fumble, flashing just a bit of white bum as they drop.

Vampires shouldn’t sunbake. I head for the shaded sanctuary of the cafe.

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