Sweltering conditions have seen millions of Australians rush down to the beach, making a spot on the sand a precious commodity.
With summer still months away, the packed conditions in Sydney are just a glimpse of what’s to come – meaning you may need to get used to sharing the sand.
So how close is too close to lay your towel to someone else’s, how loud should you play your UE boom speaker – or should you even take it at all – and what about dealing with other people’s feral kids?
NCA NewsWire has spoken to etiquette expert Anna Musson, who breaks down the beach rules for you this summer.
WHERE TO PUT YOUR TOWEL
Australians know that a trip to the beach often comes with a fierce battle for a spot on the sand, but there is a method to doing so respectfully.
“If everybody is packed in really closely, it’s safe to assume that spatial distance is at a premium and you can sit a little closer than normal,” she said.
“Rule of thumb, if you can read their texts, then you’re too close.”
She said that it was often under a tree where people ended up having to sit the closest.
“If in doubt, it’s nice to make eye contact with someone and say, are you okay? If I just put my towel here? I was hoping to get some shade,” Ms Musson said.
DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN
Being on the receiving end of a child’s bad behaviour (accidental or not) is never fun, but it’s important to handle the situation carefully.
“It can be a bit delicate but if the children are 10 or over you can address them directly and just ask them to be careful,” she said.
“If they are younger than 10 you can sweetly speak to the parents and ask them if they had noticed that their child was intentionally kicking up sand, for example.”
She said it was important to note that you can’t correct other people’s young children.
If in doubt, just move on to a different section of the beach as it is a public space.
“Sometimes people who have had a stressful week think they can let their children run wild and its often better not to say anything rather than to cause a flare up,” Ms Musson said.
PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Couples heading to the beach shouldn’t forget that they’re in a public place while on a beach outing according to the etiquette expert.
“Just choose your moment, choose your spot – if there‘s a lot of families down there, keep that to a minimum,” she said.
Ms Musson says the same goes for public nudity.
“Yes, it’s a public beach, if you want to get the girls out you can, just potentially pick the area, use discretion and be mindful of where you are and the time of day and always use sunscreen,” she said.
A divisive topic, but Ms Musson says that it’s okay to play your tunes at the beach – within reason.
“If you‘re going to play music at the beach, make sure that it’s first of all, not offensive music with foul language and secondly, not a weird genre that’s going to be not widely accepted,” she said.
“If you‘re into heavy metal, maybe keep it to your air pods.”
Play it safe by playing some top 40 hits or relaxing music, and always turn it down if you’re asked.
“Always read the room if you’ve got music playing,” Ms Musson added.
As a paddleboarder herself, Ms Musson said that it is definitely something you can bring to a busy beach if you can do it consciously.
“I think the important point with paddle boarding is to make the room so you get on and off away from little children and just navigate that carefully,” she said.
“Always think: how is this going to affect other people.”
Another important thing to remember is that you’re not allowed to bring any surf craft, including paddleboards, into the red and yellow flags.
When in doubt, try to move away from other people and you’ll be set.
There’s nothing more Australian than a barbecue on the beach and Ms Musson urges people to get “amongst it” if possible.
As the beach is a public place, anyone is allowed to bring their favourite foods, and you might be lucky enough to score some of your neighbour’s tucker.
“If someone is setting up a bain marie right behind your head and you turn around and there’s a whole buffet going, I think your best bet is to embrace it and get on board and if you see if you’re lucky you might get a plate,” she said.
“If you’re going to get angry about it, it’s going to ruin your day as well, so the sooner you get on board and say that smells amazing, the better chance you have of getting some.”