It’s that time of year again when the mercury soars and a quick dip beckons.
But who wants to wrestle with soggy swimmers? There’s nothing that will make you feel further from the office or worksite this holiday season than tossing aside your clothes – yes, all of them – and plunging into the waters of the Sapphire Coast au naturel.
And if you’d like to make it a legal skinny dip, Armands Beach near Bermagui should be on your list. It was declared legally clothes-optional by Bega Valley Shire Council in November 1993 and is frequented by a posse of locals known as the Armands Beach Leisure Group. The group runs annual events which are open to all.
“It is a clothing-optional beach,” emphasises Dave Bulman, a member of the beach leisure group and frequent visitor to Armands Beach, “so people can wear whatever they are comfortable in”.
The beach was named after Armand Lemmeric, a Frenchman who owned a farm behind Armands Beach and regularly swam nude there.
According to Dave, in the 1930s the beach was known for its nude cricket matches.
Dave says that after growing up “very shy and self-conscious”, he now lives nude as much as he can and feels comfortable in his own skin.
“Luckily, my neighbours are understanding,” says Dave, who lives at Beauty Point near Bermagui. “When I first moved here from Melbourne in 2011, I made it clear to them what my preferred lifestyle was and while they aren’t naturalists themselves, we help each other and chat over the fence.”
Dave is careful to throw on some clothes when he chats with his neighbours and makes it clear that living nude only works when everyone feels comfortable and safe.
“Look, there are problems sometimes with people being harassed or approached at nude beaches, mostly single women or gay guys,” Dave shares, recounting a story about a beach he used to frequent near his Melbourne home, where a group of men were arrested for hiding in the dunes and “gawking”.
Ironically, they weren’t charged with making people uncomfortable but for trampling sensitive beach habitat!
That sort of thing doesn’t happen on the Far South Coast much, according to Dave, but still, he and the rest of the leisure club want to make it clear that they are a family-friendly naturist club focussed on freedom, rather than primed for sex, as in often the perception in wider society.
“We can really learn a lot from kids – they don’t give a damn, it’s irrelevant to them whether someone has clothes on or not,” he says.
Dave’s vision is for a beach where everyone is comfortable.
“When everyone is comfortable, you really appreciate the benefits. It’s a great way to live, there are so many health benefits, both mental and physical, to being out in nature naked, letting the waves wash over you.”
The Armands Beach Leisure Club has several seasonal events coming up including the Nude Years Eve dinner at the Murrah Hall and the annual Fun in the Sun Day in March 2020. The group also participates in Clean Up Australia Day.
“We are looking for an MC for our annual Fun in the Sun Day as our usual MC has retired this year, so if you’re keen to run around with a megaphone, get in touch!” says club president Errol Masterson.
Armands Beach is not patrolled and there are no toilets or facilities. Bring all you need and take away all you bring. Clothes option is limited to the sands of the beach.
For more information, follow the Armands Beach Leisure Group on Facebook.