Words || Max Lewis
If you’ve been a fan of the undercover series since its inception (I know y’all are out there!) you’ve probably noticed a reoccuring theme, a narrative arc if you will. I’m often joking about my lack of general social skills and low self-esteem, because I use humour to defeat my weaknesses the same way anime characters use friendship to defeat evil. That being said, when our almighty Editor-in-Chief posed this particular piece to me, sheepishly saying, “You’re gonna hate this,” I instantly knew it had to be done. “What if you go to a nude beach,” was his prompt, words hanging in the air like a bad smell. I can barely exist in front of strangers wearing shorts let alone with my whole business on display like rotisserie meat. The thought of also existing in a space with – let’s face it, old as fuck – naked adults with no romantic or sexual context to ease me in was also nightmarish. But you know what? Life is too damn short to not live a little, and also, if I don’t get naked on a beach there will be no article this issue. So I cast aside my judgements and decided I would expose myself to strangers in the name of student journalism.
A quick – and incognito protected – google search for ‘Sydney nude beaches’ led me to one that seemed like a good fit: Obelisk Beach, a small nude beach located in Mosman. About 100 metres in length and reachable down winding rock steps, it looked like a perfectly secluded and almost picturesque location where I could safely air out all of my parts without getting put on a register. Wikipedia also told me the beach was “attended predominantly by homosexual men” which was really great to hear, because if my brief stint Grindr has taught me anything, old gay men have no fucking chill whatsoever.
My plan was to hit up the beach in time to see the sunset, mostly so I wouldn’t get sunburn in parts unfathomable to me. I also decided to bring my boyfriend, partially to protect me from anyone that would dare to speak to me while my pasty shame was exposed, but also for general moral support, since I hate beaches and water and being outside.
After a myriad of what I would call ‘transport snafus’, we didn’t get to Obelisk until the sun had been gone for some time. The bus dropped us off at a roundabout and disappeared into the darkness, leaving us on a cursed, pitch black road. I felt like I’d just landed in fucking Innsmouth. We wandered to where Google Maps was indicating us, deeper and deeper into inky blackness, until we found a sign pointing to a footpath that was completely dark. Aided by smartphone torches, we descended some stone steps for what felt like forever. At one point I froze, hearing rustling in the bushes either side of us. Waving my light in the direction of the noise, I held my breath and waited, a tightly wound spring ready to turn tail and run at any sight whatsoever. It turned out to be the breeze rustling some leaves, but I was on high alert.
Following the sound of crashing waves, we eventually reached the beach – and it was pretty fucking sublime. There was a wide and uninterrupted view of Sydney Harbour, now just a sea of tiny lights, some moving, some blinking, some stationary like dull stars. Occasionally ferries would sail past, a tiny collection of lights and shadow against the water, and too far away to see anything but our shadows. I was already a lot calmer, and I hadn’t even gotten my junk out yet.
It’s a curious feeling, having air on parts of your body that don’t usually get the chance. I hadn’t felt the sweet kiss of the wind on my private parts since my worst case of being dacked in Year 9. I lay on a towel and gazed out at the vista before me, focusing on the crashing waves inching closer and closer to me but never quite getting there, feeling soft, salty wind caress my soft, shitty body. Maybe public nudity isn’t so bad?
My meditation was shattered when I saw a beam of light on the sand to my right. My neck twisted back, in the direction of the stone steps, and I saw two shadow beings descending the steps with the aid of a flashlight. Suddenly I remembered that seclusion isn’t always a good thing. I could have all my limbs torn off and eaten like a subway sandwich and nobody would even hear me scream. There was also the fact that all my clothes and stuff like my wallet and phone where resting on a rock near the entrance. I was also completely fucking naked and there were other human beings here. Trying to act as natural as possible, I remained in my position on the shore and tried to ignore them. But the beach was no longer the peaceful spot it had been five minutes ago.
The two shadow beings hovered at the base of the steps for a while, before walking away from us, sitting on a rock and ominously smoking cigarettes and looking out at the harbour. Innocuous in hindsight, but I couldn’t help but think these figures were planning something shady, because only evil people smoke cigarettes. My anxiety reaching a peak, I got up and rushed to get dressed, getting sand in every part of my clothing I didn’t want it to be, and rushed back up the stone steps before anyone could catch us.
Upon reflection, my anxiety got the better of me once again. But there’s no denying how utterly sublime the 30 minutes or so I spent at the beach were, before I was attacked by The Shadows. I can definitely see the appeal in dropping trou and experiencing nature without capitalistic restraints like clothing and discretion. If you’re curious, it’s definitely worth a go. Try to find a nice secluded spot near you and go a bit later in the day, and you might be surprised at how much you enjoy it. And if shadow people show up and start smoking durries, don’t let them spoil the view.