An early summer morning at North Cottesloe Beach is really quite magical. The warm air scented with Frangipani, tunnels of green along shady paths, the crystal-clear light, and the sparkling water, the Indian Ocean no less, a serene light blue green and a balmy 24 degrees.
You’d think a three-hour time difference from Sydney would give us an early-riser’s advantage, but it’s already busy down here at 6am, as Barchetta opens its doors and the first of the local regulars appear for their morning fix. I’d say it was an older crowd this early in the morning, definitely an old digger vibe.
We got chatting to one amiable bloke who told us he’d been swimming down here at North Cott for some 63 years. Remembers one time, back when he was around 30, down here for his morning constitutional, seeing a big old commotion on the beach – people everywhere. One fella broke out of the crowd and jogged off down the beach, so I ran after him, chatting to him as we ran on the sand. Turns out, he said ‘It was Charles, you know, the King. Well, not the King then of course, but Prince Charles’. That was 44 years ago when Charles was 30 years old. That was also the time that a Bikini-clad model famously stole a kiss from the Prince, making headlines around the world. ‘One more thing’ he said, with a cheeky grin on this face, ‘when you head back east, be mindful of the fine print on your visa… if anyone asks how was Perth, tell ‘em it’s horrible mate, don’t bother coming’. I reckon he’s onto something. This place is heaven. It should be a secret. No hordes of tourists, well not this early in the morning.
There’s plenty going on here as dawn cracks. There’s the Pod Squad, a group of community-minded ocean swimmers that meet every day of the week at 6.15am in front of the boat ramp at North Cottesloe Surf Club, right in front of the latte sippers at Barchetta. It’s an amazing sight to see dozens of people leap into the water and pull away out into the ocean and into formation. They swim ‘in pack’ along to the Cottesloe groyne and back, a swim of some 2kms, ending the exercise in a circle with a group splash and a loud cheer. Seize the day I say!