Paradise at your peril
Perth's Cottlesloe Beach.
My first ever piece of ''pants action'' occurred on the beach. No, I wasn't a Puberty Blues ''mole'' who fetched surfie dropkicks Polly Waffles and participated in amorous liaisons on the sand - the first foreign objects to enter my swimmers were stingers that were once the main predators off the beaches of south-west Western Australia.
As a child, I spent my school holidays in a little coastal town called Busselton. It's a bustling city now and the surrounding areas are a haven for rich people who like to drink pinot gris; but back then it was the urban development equivalent of a pre-pubescent girl who knew she was going to be hot. But I digress. The stingers were so bad back then that at the town beach there were ''stinger nets'', which attempted to keep the pesky critters out of the way. I'm not scarred (physically or emotionally) by the stinger experience, though, and I miss making the one-hour pilgrimage to the coast every summer, back when my metabolism meant I could eat a whole bag of Samboy barbecue chips (smothered in sand and sunscreen) in one sitting.
Every year my brother, cousins and grandparents would run away to Busselton for weeks of swimming, Mr Whippy soft serve, rashie envy and possible mercury poisoning thanks to the volume of fish we would consume.
I may not know how to catch or cook fish but I did learn during those summers (thanks to my domestic-goddess grandmother) that white vinegar will stop the pain of jellyfish welts and yoghurt applied to sunburn is a tasty soothing lotion.
Growing up a sandgroper also meant I encountered my fair share of ''things that can kill you'' in the ocean.
A sting ray as big as a small dingy followed me like a lost lamb as I clocked up the kilometres training for my Bronze Medallion off Cape Naturaliste but, more recently, working as a reporter in Perth, I've covered more shark attacks than eaten hot dinners.
There have been six serious shark attacks off the WA coast in the past 14 months. Five of them have been fatal. All have been tragic and eerie.
Standing on the shores at iconic locations such as Cottesloe or Margaret River, as water police trawl through the water looking for a victim (or what's left of them) the energy shifts in the air - the water is grey and still - ''perfect conditions for shark attacks'' the experts say - and terror takes over.
Premier Colin Barnett recently approved of shark monitoring and culling, if the beasts of the deep blue pose a threat at popular beaches. It's an outrage that I, along with some members of the community share: when you swim in the ocean you enter a different world, a world where you are not the boss.
I have a love for the water like most Australians but being from Perth, where the Swan River pulses through the city like a thick jugular vein, my love runs deep.
Midnight swim in Lancelin - loved it. Skinny-dipping in the Swan (which I think is polluted) - great times. Watching the sun sink behind the Indian Ocean - more beautiful than a topless Ryan Gosling. If you've ever read Tim Winton's Cloudstreet you'll know what I'm talking about. We just really like water in WA.
As another summer holiday period rolls on and I'm far from the swell of my childhood, I cannot wait to see what the eastern seaboard beaches have to offer.
Hopefully less stingers, oh, and sharks!