Every year my family spends one or two post-Xmas weeks at the beach, most often at Anglesea (on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria) or somewhere on the south coast of New South Wales. The NSW south coast has a lot going for it: beautiful beaches set off by tall eucalypts, warmer water than in Victoria (great if you’re a girly-man), and loads of holiday hamlets and small towns in which to rent houses, often a short walk from the beach. But I like Anglesea; it’s less than two hours from home, it’s got two particularly lovely beaches (Urquhart Bluff and Point Addis) within a short drive of the town, the water is refreshing, the shops are great (the supermarket stocks Irrewarra bread – just about the best sourdough in the universe), and most importantly I can hoon around in the bush on my mountain bike.
Most mornings over the past couple of weeks I shovelled down some cereal and got out of the house by seven-thirty or eight, before most of the extended family offspring and all of the adults were up. My routine was to:
- head north up Camp Rd to the Anglesea bike park (really a BMX track) to do a few mildly terrifying warm-up laps;
- take the dirt road that skirts the riverside park to a sandy track winding through the bushland and up the biggest, steepest hill in sight;
- loop across Harvey Rd, down through the heath to the GOR and back to the hill;
- fly down, successfully avoiding the deeply eroded drains crossing the slope;
- hoon onto a fast, narrow downhill track towards the river, enjoying some natural berms, little drop-offs over tree roots, and an excellent jump (on which I had an excellent stack and lost some excellent skin);
- do a few more loops of the BMX track, and back to the house. An hour of sweaty and slightly dangerous fun.
I doubt I’ve done so much exercise on a beach holiday before. It meant I could easily stuff in a second breakfast (coffee, fruit toast with butter and cheese, sourdough toast with butter and Vegemite) and still be hungry for lunch. And snacks. Dinner and dessert. Chocolate. Mountain bikes – they’re eating machines.