The Demographics of Nakedness

[Photo credit to Spencer Tunick for the featured image]

Hello naturist followers and friends,

Dare I even write this post?

I’ve fallen behind again on my blog. I never got back to finishing my travelogue for our trip through naked Australia, with reviews yet to be completed of the luxurious BB at Byron Bay, or our final stop at the famed little resort near Tambourine known to loyal followers as BoBrene. And since then, I had a brief stay in Thailand that afforded a visit to a new resort in Phuket called Lemon Tree Resort – a very sweet little naturist retreat just a short drive from the waterfront, including a boat trip out to a makeshift naturist beach on a small mostly deserted island.


But alas, I feel a sudden urge to trump – if you’ll pardon the expression – my typical agenda of travel writing with a brief outburst of a philosophical nature, spawned in large part by some lovely people I’ve met in recent days during our first visit to a bucolic little resort in Honduras called Paya Bay. (Yet another review to be written!)

As is usually the case in making new acquaintances with naked people, the first topic of conversation was something of a naturist travel roll call. “Have you been to that little place near the Mexican border? How about one of those Big Nude Boat sailings? You were on the Royal Clipper to Venice when? Hey! I think we were on that boat!”

Then comes that awkward silence. We both prefer naked travel. We’ve been to many of the same places. You have a penis. I have a penis. (No gender neutral confusion there!)  Let’s see… what else?

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My wife and I have been naturists since about 1986 when we made our first visit to a nude beach near Santa Cruz, California. We are among the lucky ones as this was not a late-in-life discovery for us, but instead, a unique attribute of our relationship that has evolved as everything else does in a marriage of 32+ years. And the achievement of getting our kids through college and out of the house has afforded us many more choices for seeing the world – with clothes or without. Which leads to this somewhat meandering post that will attempt to take on a few myths about naturism that have long challenged my curiosities, most frequently leading to a final assessment of… “Huh!”

Alleged Myth #1: People at naturist resorts are much more social and friendly than those at typical (textile) resorts.

I think this is largely true, if for no other reason, you have a non-verbal starter right out of the box. “You’re naked. I’m naked. Let’s talk about how cool that is for a few minutes.” Talk about an ice-breaker! And truth be told, if you go to a Westin resort on Maui and invite yourself to join another couple at their table on the veranda with the opening line, “Hey, is this your first time wearing that ill-fitting bathing suit to a posh, overpriced resort – MINE TOO!,” you’re likely to get something between a stink-eye and a sudden escort from the resort bouncer.

Nudity is most certainly an immediate common denominator, and those who have been at it for a while understand the almost (?) competitive business of amassing destination pins in the naturist world map. “Oh, well if you like that place, you’ve got to try this other place with the naked zip line course.”

In all fairness, this is, all at once, an opportunity to boast about one’s naked accomplishments, while at the same time, conducting all so important naturist reconnaissance. Hours of digging through Trip Advisor Reviews will never compare to the candor and nuance of a travel conversation with a seasoned naturist, much of which involves a certain flavor of non-verbal communication that provides context for said reconnaissance data. But more about that later.

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Alleged Myth #2: The nice thing about being naked is that you are stripped of all the artificial barriers that put people at odds with one another in normal life. “A naked doctor and a naked plumber are on a level playing field while sipping a fruity drink on a nude beach.

It’s later!

I have heard this argument on the beach, in the hot tub, at the restaurant, in the pool, and on the veranda of a cruise ship. “The great thing about nudity is that it makes us all equal! We are all the same once stripped of our uniforms that provide cues about social status, income, education, and personal ideologies regarding motorcycles and the human qualities of cats.”

False.

Well, even if I could completely embrace the initial premise, this all changes pretty quickly once the first person breaks the ice with, “Is this your first time at a naturalist [sic] place? The wife and I never [sic] done this before.”

If you’re still reading and haven’t simply deleted the link to my blog as you dismiss me for being a pompous ass with an intolerance for people from varied walks of life, then you have tapped into the very essence of my point.

In fact, if you really think this myth to be a truth, try visiting the teachers’ lounge at Any School USA to see how those birds of a feather flock together. (Or not!) We are not all the same, even when most of our life choices regarding career, church, and family would indicate that we are, and the lack of clothing actually does very little to hide those differences which really matter.

I truly wish this wasn’t the case. When we first began our naturist explorations, we were much more optimistic about meeting people at naturist venues who would share our interests, values, and ideals. But in reality, I would put the odds someplace in the same ballpark as on-line dating. Once you’ve finished the obligatory conversation about “Isn’t it great to be naked and free?” You’ve got to have something else to talk about.

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Alleged Myth #3: Naturists are more open minded and accepting of alternative lifestyles, political and religious perspectives, and a general sense of live and let live.

In an effort to figure out what the hell is going on in the world right now, I’m reading two interesting books, each of an autobiographical nature, by political comedians who felt it timely to share their stories. Trevor Noah is the late night talk show host who replaced Jon Stewart, and Bassem Youssef was the Egyptian equivalent of Jon Stewart, until he was forced into exile after his rants about the complexities of the Arab Spring, albeit in a humorous manner. (And now you know something about me… I really like Jon Stewart!) Their stories are largely the same, each having found the absurdity of living under intense oppression, Noah growing up as a mixed race child in South Africa during the fall of apartheid, Youssef narrowly escaping his homeland when the government elevated his humor to a threat to Arab civilization. Their writing is all at once poignant and laugh inducing, in each case providing abounding evidence of how people fall short of relating to one another in a thoughtful and compassionate way, even when it would be in their best interest to do so.

Here at Paya Bay, this is the first time I’ve been naked in public since the United States of America decided we are far from united when it comes to what we think are the inalienable rights that bond us together. And perhaps I can evoke a bit more drama in suggesting (recognizing ?!?) that the motivations of one side of the political discourse is deeply intertwined with a particular religious perspective that suggests that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten resources to the US of A, so that he who was not born here shall suffer and perish.” Youssef and Noah drive that point home with stirring anecdotal evidence that compassion, while considered a virtue, is a country-mile stretch for the average human being.

So there it is. My political opinions – neatly packaged for consumption – that would die a sudden and violent death in a typical room full of naked people. From my perspective, it really should go like this. “Hey! Look at all of us! We all have essentially the same body parts, so we can put that part of the conversation to rest! So what say we tussle a bit about the other things that make us uniquely human, like the ability to reason, engage in thoughtful discourse, and simply agree to disagree in the spirit of tolerance and a commonality in the reverence for life, and living it to its fullest. (You are, after all, standing here naked! Isn’t that living life to the margin?)

But like everyplace I have gone since late November 2016, new acquaintances are regulated by a delicate pas-de-deux of feeling out one’s personal convictions before you blunder into a Cold War of philosophical dissension, or maybe even alienation and ridicule. But probably not. Better to play it safe and stay on script, “So this is your first time at a naked place?”

My point? Some naturists are liberal. Some naturists are conservatives. Some are quite tolerant, and others are not. It turns out that one’s desire to walk around without clothing has surprising little to do with any of those other factors. Each human is a complex organism influenced by the social environment in which s/he he lives his or her daily life.

For me, that was a “Huh!”
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Alleged Myth #4: Naturists are simply 21st century hippies who simply can’t let go of the good ol’ days in the Haight-Asbury, with all the accompanying affinities for weed, free love, and communal living.

Don’t I wish! As the youngest of four, my older siblings brought up the rear of that generation. In fact, my brother even went to Janice Joplin concerts at the Filmore, though I’m pretty sure he stopped short of free love in Golden Gate Park.

But it seems to me that a part of America died when the hippies grew up and got jobs in corporate America. Ironically enough, the free love thing sort of morphed into a swinger thing, (which the Millennials seem to have repackaged as friends with benefits. Just wow!) and this has become the very antithesis of what us high-minded naked people like to call naturist values. But the other piece that seemed to go under the bus was tolerance. Though one could make the argument that hippies and non-hippies may have spent a lot more time and energy talking about tolerance than actually being tolerant themselves.

Here again, so much rhetoric in the naturist community is given to body acceptance, though in my estimation, that’s pretty hit and miss as well. It amazes me how much humans obsess over another one’s piercings, tattoos, or distribution of body weight. Isn’t the point, “Here I am! Naked and unafraid! You don’t even have to love me, but is it so much to ask you to simply co-exist?

We have made several visits over the years to the infamous Cap d’Agde in the South of France, which might be best described as a place where, if you can imagine it, you will find it – and then a bit more. I find it to be an intriguing show where you can sit for hours at a sidewalk cafe watching the world go by; a man on a studded leash, a woman adorned in sparkly string that accentuates her crotch, or any number of genital piercings that would never make it through a metal detector. (Not to mention the amorous couples at the hotel pool who are less than subtle in their public displays of affection.) For my wife, it’s a good bit over the line. She couldn’t even tell you why, exactly, as we have never been approached by others to “come out and play,” nor have we had any reason to feel threatened by behaviors we would never engage in. But in the end, it’s beyond our daily repertoire of acceptable behavior, as if they’ve crossed that line, you wonder where the next one will be drawn.

I suppose that’s the very essence of society’s suspicious about naked people in general. Allow them to walk naked on the beach, and the next thing you know they’ll be naked in the streets, and the movie theaters, and maybe even at Disneyland. (I could launch off onto an entirely new tangent about yoga pants at this juncture, but maybe that’s for another day.)

If we’ve learned anything about people in recent decades, it’s that despite all of our insurance plans, extended warranties, and declaratory promises from various politicians, we are a fearful people, largely fearing those things which we don’t quite understand. You can see naked people undulating on the big screen entranced in the most intimate of human experiences, and maybe even get a glimpse of full frontal nudity, but catch a naked couple walking hand in hand on the beach, and clearly we’ve gone off the rail. That was the stuff the hippies were made of, and we see what happened to them!
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Alleged Myth #5: Given the assertion that at least 75% of the above assertions are true, any naturist community is a convivial community, where values are largely the same, and potential soulmates are just standing around naked, waiting to bond!

So at this point, this seems a bit redundant. Naked people really only have one thing in common. Nudity. And no doubt, if you’ve arrived at that point of life where you’d rather have a root canal before wearing nylon in a swimming pool, and you find yourself looking for a new soulmate, you are faced with an onerous task indeed.

Many have responded to my blog seeking advice as to how they might coax a naturist unfriendly spouse to give naturism a whirl. Seems bizarre. Most everything in their lives has aligned; they may have “connected” two human bodies to make more human bodies,  and they undoubtedly (but not always!) have seen one another naked, but making that step into the arena of public nudity simply violates too many social norms. Now with the proliferation of random photography and cameras hidden everywhere “for security purposes,” it seems a significant change to those social norms is not on the immediate horizon.

That said, getting yourself a ticket for a ride on a big boat with 1000 other naked people must increase one’s chances of finding others who at least are willing to embrace the naked part of the equation. But beyond that, it seems to me it’s just about like everything else. Each human is wired uniquely. It’s what makes us so interesting. It’s also what makes us so complicated. Turns out that so many of us are apparently just wolves – in no clothing!

Dogs seem pretty comfortable naked. Maybe we could learn a few things from them.

Huh!


Dedicated, with gratitude and affection, to Randy, Greg, Judy and Ann; two lovely couples we met at Paya Bay this past weekend who weren’t afraid to say, “We like to be naked… with people we like to be with!”

Wow. Thought provoking!

Seclude! It most certainly is.

Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to make our way from Cairns to Brisbane by Train? There must be a naturist place half way in between to break-up an otherwise 24 hour journey. Turns out there are a couple, but the one that caught our attention is called Seclude. Why, might you ask? Well… it’s secluded!

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So secluded, in fact, that the options for getting there are actually quite limited, especially if you don’t have a car. Tony and Yvette set up this beautiful little Garden of Eden on nearly 200 acres nestled in the hills between Proserpine and Airlie Beach. So when I saw the train stopped in Proserpine, I thought, “Great. Get off the train. Rent a car. Drive 20 minutes, and drop our gear!”

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Turns out there’s only one place to rent a car in Proserpine, and that’s at the airport. And essentially, only one time to rent a car at the airport – shortly after the arrival of the afternoon flights. Which coordinates with the train schedule (which doesn’t really run on schedule) not at all! So Tony kindly booked us a car to meet us at the train and drive us up the long dirt road to his idyllic little retreat.

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Turns out Seclude has three self-contained (and stunningly gorgeous) little chalets, (not that little, actually!) and two distinct identities with corresponding websites; one that markets to naturists (which Tony and Yvette are deeply keen on), and the other marketed to people who simply want to get away from it all, but without exercising the option to get naked. The first unit booked sets the rules for the ensuing days. Never will you find naturist and textiles sharing the property at the same time.

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Tony designed each of the three chalets; each ultra modern, beautifully designed, and with verandas overlooking the surrounding mangrove and rain forests. Air conditioned and equipped with an extensive movie selection through Apple TV, you could settle in for a month to enjoy the seclusion. What they do not have, however, is an over-abundance of WI-FI, as service comes through a satellite hook-up with a small monthly allotment and a narrow bandwidth. Despite my attempt to adhere to their urging to limit internet usage, I fear I may have left the legacy of burning up their monthly allocation. In any event, achieving full seclusion was not a challenge.

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As it happened, we booked first for our time period, extending over the New Years Eve week-end, which meant I got to attend my very first Nude Years Eve party. With three couples staying at the resort, and our lovely hosts joining us poolside, only 75% of the crowd made it to the new year. I was there!– and I’m happy to report that it was quiet, but memorable!

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Should you choose to visit, be sure to ask Tony and Yvette about the development of their bucolic little resort, which began with a shed and an outhouse that were both nearly consumed by unrelenting landslides during one of the rainiest winters on record. You would never know that today, which the charming chalets, carefully manicured lawns, and thoughtful layout of the entire grounds that allow each visitor the seclusion they are yearning for. In fact, Tony tells us that’s the biggest difference between their naturist and textile clientele. The naturists seek to socialize with one another. The textiles, once arrived, become all but invisible.

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Fortunately for us, Yvette prepares food hampers and BBQ kits upon demand so one really never needs to leave the property to find food. The portions were generous and the ingredients were fresh and creative.I would have regretted missing a single meal there.

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Would I go back? Absolutely – but maybe spend a week… with a car! Tony and Yvette are wonderful hosts, and deeply passionate about the naturist cause. I would hope that one day they might become a full time naturist establishment, as high quality clothing-optional establishments are hard to come by, in Australia, or anyplace else. Call them up, make the first booking, and drop your gear. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Gourmet Naturism at Twin falls

I’m finally getting back to blogging about our naturist journey down the eastern coast of Australia, which included a day visit to the remote, but beautiful resort known to locals as Twin Falls Nature Retreat. With a bit of trepidation about negotiating the last three kilometers of dirt track with our little rented Hyundai, we were duly rewarded with Ian’s dry humor and Yolanda’s gourmet cooking.

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Located about an hour inland from Port MacQuarie, I had read several reviews with recurring remarks about two things; the lovely (naturist) walk to the falls – an thus Twin Falls – and the treacherous dirt road that means you gotta want to get there. As our timing coincided with a sustained dry period, it turned out that negotiating the entry road was not so bad. Though in the same breath, when there is no water, there are no falls!

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We arrived just a few days before Christmas to find only one other guest on the grounds that day – an enjoyable fellow named Martin who has been coming to Twin Falls for years. He, Ian, and Yolanda seemed like family as they chided and cajoled one another fueled by Ian’s quick witted remarks. Soon enough, Yolanda appeared with heaping plates of an Asian chicken chow-mein. A lovely afternoon dining naked on the veranda.

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While I think this is a popular camping destination, there are two B&B rooms to be had, which looked lovely at a glance. A quiet refuge in the midst of the wilderness and tropical rain forest. And unlike SO many naturist destinations, the WI-FI was fast and efficient due to Ian’s business needs for broadband internet access.

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After lunch, we made the trek up the forest path, Ian leading the way pointing out various plants (including a couple that could totally ruin your vacation), dragon lizards, and spiders while clipping low-hanging vines in preparation for the busy summer tourist season. It was perhaps a fifteen minute walk up to where the falls might have been; but today, we found a small pond nestled in the rocks. Another trail leads up to the ridge where one must don clothing should he wish to make the entire trek. Not exactly a rigorous exercise circuit, but a wonderful opportunity for a naked walk in the woods.

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When we arrived, Yolanda was busy at work in the pool area already making preparations for the upcoming New Year’s Eve party – apparently one of the main events of the entire year. So much easier to bring in the “Nude Year” when December 31 falls in the middle of summer instead of the middle of winter.

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Well worth the effort to get there, next time we’ll make it a point to settle in for a few days and enjoy the serenity and solitude of this beautiful property. Yolanda has an extensive menu, so maybe we’ll have to stay long enough to try everything once.

Thanks for a great day Ian and Yolanda!

A Touch of France in Nelson Bay

It seems simple enough. 25 ℉ at home, or 25 ℃ on sunny Nelson Bay on the east coast of Australia. So we opted for a Blue Christmas in a lovely naturist B&B in the hills above Port Stephens, just under three hours north of Sydney.

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I had already heard through the grapevine that we were going to love our stay in this upscale naturist inn, and my correspondence with Stuart, the owner and innkeeper, led to the realization that he is also the manager and editor of TAN Magazine, the sole remaining naturist periodical in Australia.

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This is particularly impressive since Stuart didn’t have his own naturist epiphany until around 2009 when he discovered the joy of a late-day visit to the naturist beaches near Sydney after long, stressful days in the corporate world. Just a few years later, he would take advantage of the early retirement parachute, and that’s when he and his wife Lucia became innkeepers. Naturist… innkeepers.

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As it happens, (and if I got the story right,) Stuart and Lucia are the third managers of Le Chateau Naturiste, which gained its name, along with bits of French memorabilia, from a previous owner who fancied herself as a naturist and a Francophile. Our room was spacious and tastefully decorated, with a door leading directly onto the veranda, which would become my branch office for the few days before Christmas. While the untimely cloud cover made it a bit chilly for a dip in the pool, it didn’t prevent us from a long walk on the nearby Samurai naturist beach.

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Lucia was quite literally a bit under the weather during our stay, but Stuart was a wonderful host, tending each day to breakfast, and most interested in our evening debriefings (no pun intended) as we explored the environs of Nelson Bay. His enthusiasm for naturism is infectious, as is his commitment to contributing to the positive mainstream image of the naturist cause. Should you pay a visit, be sure to ask him about his television appearances. Remarkable stories, told by a great story-teller.

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We are starting to amass a fairly substantial list of naturist destinations that enjoy warmer climes while ice and snow adorn the plants and trees of our home in the eastern US. My hope, each time, is that we might find a place where we can enjoy January in the same naked glory we enjoy July in France, Spain, or Croatia. While not quite as expansive as the sprawling naturist centers of Europe, Le Chateau is most certainly a step in the right direction.

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I should mention that this is our first stop on our naked odyssey through Oz. You can see the rest of our itinerary here, or simply check back as I muse about our meanderings down the eastern coast of Australia.

 

 

Cloudy and 100% Chance of Naked on Samurai Beach

Timing is everything – and ours wasn’t quite right.

We stayed several nights at Le Chateau Naturiste (Blog entry coming soon!) with hopes of figuring out the naturist scene in and around Nelson Bay, or more specifically, the celebrated Samurai Beach.

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As many have noted, the first point of business is getting there – and… getting out! Samurai Beach is adjacent to the textile One Mile Beach, separated by an outcropping of rocks that become all but impassable at high-tide. The other way in is on a sandy track from the highway, with a small sign that indicates 4WD is required. Our kind host (Stuart, from Le Chateau) suggested that we leave our car at the parking at One Mile Beach, then he would drive us in to Samurai, which involved a maneuver of letting the air out of the tires so even his 4WD wouldn’t get stuck in the sand. That was the moment I decided, “I will never drive a car – 4WD or otherwise – to Samurai Beach.

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This being the week before Christmas, the beach was very quiet. Most people we encountered were nude, but they were far and few between. I had also read complaints about the 4-wheelers that race up and down the beach, along with the gawkers who have ruined many a stay. Neither were an issue for us.

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It is perhaps a 15-minute walk from one end of the beach to the other. On the far end, you find an even more treacherous road (says the citified naturist from the US of A) that leads into a small campground with perhaps a dozen or so camping rigs, along with signs about carrying out your rubbish and bringing along your own portable toilet. Stuart tells us that people settle in here for the better part of the summer – up to 6 or 8 weeks at a time. There’s something else that’s not likely to make it onto my bucket list. Only a few miles from all the amenities of civilization, yet almost impossible to get there.

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We knew the tide was coming in, and also knew that if we waited too long, scrambling over the rocks would be supplanted with a long walk back out to the highway on the sandy track. Nope! Clothes on and a-scrambling we went. As is typical, we thought the neighboring One Mile Beach to be a lot nicer than the famous nude beach behind us, which always begs the philosophical musings – “What’s the big deal with donning a swimsuit? Is this really necessary?”

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Should you put Samurai on your list? Yes.

Should you plan your visit around high and low tide? Yes.

Should you bring a beach umbrella or some such thing to protect yourself from the sun? Absolutely, as there is no natural shade to be found on the beach. For that, we welcomed the cloud cover.

Does Samurai live up to it’s reputation? You bet! Hope to get back there one day.

 

Chillin’ at Cobbler’s Beach

Beating the wear and tear of jet-lag is always a challenge. For me, it means staying awake all day to begin adjusting to the new time zone. No small feat when traveling from California to Sydney, Australia. So we kept things on the move, meandering our way down the Darling wharf, grabbing a ferry out to the Taronga Zoo, then walking over the hill (from the zoo) to Middle Head Park where we found the path down to Cobbler’s Beach.

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Quite stunning that after walking through what must be some of the priciest real estate in all of Australia, past opulent mini-mansions and BMWs, that you suddenly find yourself in what appears to have been a military compound surrounded by strikingly beautiful wilderness area. Just minutes from suburbia, we found the path down to Cobbler’s Beach.

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It was late afternoon by the time we arrived as some were already packing up to leave for the day. But Cobbler’s Beach is well situated for late day sun, both on the grassy knoll and the sandy beach that lies below. Seems there were many regulars there on this day, predominantly male, but not in an uncomfortable way. A friend tells us that had we arrived a bit earlier, the coffee boat would have come through – selling beverages to those who queue up in the water. Apparently the coffee boat guy works from beach to beach in the Sydney Harbor. Sorry we missed that.

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Our 90-minute stay afforded us enough time for a brief snooze in the afternoon sun before heading back up the hill to catch the 5:21 bus (Number 244) back into downtown Sydney. Seems a whole new “after-work” shift was just arriving in our place; once again, something that seems to be a daily routine of sorts at this pleasant little beach.

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As so it goes – our introduction to naturism in Australia. The first of many visits to “nudie beaches” down under. Thanks Cobbler’s Beach. You set a high bar. What more could you ask for from your first day in Sydney?

 

 

Getting naked down under

Getting ready for an Australian Nakation. About a half-dozen stops as we make our way down the east coast – mostly at naturist friendly inns.

After a couple days in Sydney, off to Nelson Bay and a stay at Le Chateau Naturiste

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Then by plane to Cairn for several nights at Mai-Tai Resort; not strictly naturist, but outdoor showers and a clothing optional pool.

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We’ll make the next to legs by train, with a stop near Airlie beach at the remote Seclude Naturist Retreat

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Then an overnight rail journey to Brisbane to check out the dashing new naturist place near Byron Bay.

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And finally, a stop a one of the best known naturist places in Australia, BoBrene

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I’ll be working on the blog, and posting on Twitter as we go. I’m told naturism can be challenge in Australia; especially in Queensland – but we’re gonna give it our best shot. At least it’ll be summertime!

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