|Most Australians choose
to live by the sea, and despite the fact that historians and critics, both literary
and artistic, have tended to write maritime themes out of the national mythology
in favour of the heroic stories and scenes of the outback, the coast has always
had a special place in the Australian imagination. As the historian Frank Broeze
put it, ‘Colonial Australian society had a distinct tang of the sea about
it’, [Broeze 1998:223] and while Tom Roberts might be best known for The
Golden Fleece, or Shearing of the Rams, he also painted Slumbering
Sea, Mentone 1887, near Keefer’s boatshed, and The Sunny South
1887, of young men bathing in Port Phillip Bay. Indeed, all the artists of
the Heidelberg School composed remarkable beachscapes, and port and harbour scenes.
For those who care to look, representations of the coast, and especially the beach,
abound in all the artistic forms by which we define ourselves and our way of life.
Indeed, the Australian love affair with the beach grows ever more ardent each
year, with a steady shift from the bush to the coast where 86% of the population