Native Canberrans have a unique sense of hearing and can detect the sound of an ocean wave breaking in another state. No sooner has this sound been registered that Canberrans involve themselves in a ritual that consists of putting an esky into the boot of a car, trying to find swimmers that had been ‘packed away’ in the ritual of winter, locating beach towels, thongs and intricate headwear called a ‘hat’. Then the Canberrans will attempt to find a lotion called ‘sunscreen’ in their home; a practice that is fruitless, time-consuming and can often result in swearing and angry yelling. However, this is easily pacified with the phrase ‘we’ll pick some up on the way’. From there, the Canberrans will leave their home and drive to a common migration site called ‘the beach’.
Upon arrival at the beach, the Canberrans will find a suitable resting place upon the sand to leave their belongings and then rush into the water with the enthusiasm and coordination of a slightly retarded Labrador puppy. Due to Canberra’s chilly climate, the Canberran’s skin is thick and resistant to cold, but the water of the ocean penetrates this barrier and causes shivering, goosebumps and a desire to use the sentence ‘it’s lovely once you’re in.’ Despite the obvious discomfort of swimming in the ocean as soon as the temperature has reached double figures, Canberrans will refuse to admit that they are cold and instead turn their minds to subjects that they know absolutely nothing about, including tides, rips, currents and the fact that ‘the waves are shit’, as if they’d have a clue what a wave looked like anyway.
Like a plague of locusts, Canberrans will occupy the beach and surrounding locations with loud games and screaming children. It is traditional in the Canberra migration ritual to eat New Zealand Natural ice-cream and fish and chips from a ‘great takeaway shop’ that serves remarkably similar food to the ‘shit takeaway shops’ in Canberra.
The final part of the migration ritual occurs just before sunset; the Canberrans will once again pack up their cars with eskies and towels, curse themselves for not bringing an extra pair of undies because the ones currently being worn are ‘wet and uncomfortable as a motherfucker’ and drive home. The idea of leaving in the afternoon is to ‘avoid the traffic’, but the drone-like brains of the Canberran means that each of them is hit with the notion at the same time, and thus a two-hour drive instantly becomes a four-hour drive.
Although the migration ritual usually only lasts for between 12 and 42 hours, the effects of it can last for several days afterwards, as sand continues to be found in bodily crevices, the car and throughout the Canberran’s house. The sunscreen that was ‘to be picked up on the way’ never was, and results in severe sunburn, leading to an enormous increase in the purchase of aloe vera in the Canberra region.
For the Canberrans out there – enjoy your ritual, drive safely and remember to take more CDs than you think you’ll need.
For the coastal locals - we know you hate us. Feel free to leer at us from working at the milk bar, and don't worry - the beach will be yours again tomorrow.
The Watson shopping complex has many things; an IGA, a hairdresser and a pharmacy. But it does not have a beach.