Places in the heart: Kathy Lette

Beached … Kathy Lette with son Julius.
Beached … Kathy Lette with son Julius. 

Hilarious, chaotic, sunburnt bliss is what writer Kathy Lette looks forward to each summer with family when they make their annual pilgrimage to Gerringong on the NSW south coast.

Gerringong, NSW, is my favourite place. The joy of living in London is its proximity to everywhere else. I've been lucky enough to explore the world from Moscow to the Maldives (place-dropping, a new art form!). But my happiest holidays are at my grandma's beachside shack in that little town south of Sydney.

Every school holiday my family would snake our way down the coast in our overladen Chevy. My sisters and I would explode from the car like champagne from a shaken bottle, squealing with delight as we raced for that golden beach.

As toddlers, we lolled about in the lagoon, attempting to bridge the yawning chasm between us and buoyancy. Later, Dad taught us to bodysurf. The first time I followed my father into the swell the waves slapped my face repeatedly. As a sheer cliff of green water reared up (what my sisters and I called a "vomit comet"), I realised that "bodysurfer" is just a euphemism for "organ donor".

But my father simply picked me up and hurled me shoreward like a human javelin. Before I had time to have a heart attack, I realised I was actually aloft on the crest. It would have been a total triumph, if only my bikini bottoms hadn't caught a different wave.

Now I have children, every December we emerge into the searing sunshine at Sydney Airport, blinking like field mice, then head straight down the coast. My sisters and I ride boogie boards, holding hands as we surf to shore like deranged Gidgets. We go rockpooling and bushwalking with the kids and eat mangoes so succulent you have to be hosed down afterwards, then play charades all night. It's hilarious, chaotic, sunburnt bliss and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Kathy Lette's new best-seller is The Boy Who Fell To Earth.

This series of articles produced with support from Tourism Australia.

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