Tuesday 5 August 2008

Swanbourne beach - where nude people get shot at by the SAS

The title for this post is slightly misleading, but Swanbourne is an interesting spot in that some smart cookie decided to site the only nudist beach in Perth alongside the live firing range at Campbell Barracks, home to the SASR.

The sign in the link above brought back memories of being on both sides of the line - lying on the sand with my togs off, and visiting the barracks to borrow some radios from the SAS Q Store.

Why did I have my togs off? Well, back when I was a uni student, I dated a vegan greenie for a while, and one of the things that she liked to do was get her gear off and lie in the sun. I didn't do it very often - body surfing in the nude is just not my thing, and Swanbourne Beach never seemed to get good surf.

The reason I was sent to Campbell Barracks is that it was a given that all radios that we were issued in the Reserves were crap. They were all Vietnam War-vintage, and I guess more than a few of them might have been dragged through the swamps around Nui Dat. The batteries could explode if the drain holes clogged up, the handsets failed on a regular basis and the pins that connected the handset cord to the radio body were a complete dog - the only way to get any sort of connection was to lick your finger and spread saliva over the pins before screwing on the handset cord. They had less range than two tin cans and a bit of string - radio operators had to be adept at climbing trees in order to get reception. Those green piles of crap with aerials attached have long been replaced, and whilst I never got to use the new squawk boxes, I was pleased to see the old ones bite the dust.

Anyhoo, the only people in WA that had half reliable radios were the SAS, so whenever we did an exercise of any import, we borrowed a couple of theirs. An "exercise of import" was where the Minister for Lard, Kim Beasley was likely to show up and have a decko at our kit. It was important to show him stuff that was working, even though the best thing would have been to show him crap that didn't work so that he'd get the idea that we needed new kit that actually worked.

The military mind sometimes works in strange ways.

How did it feel to be wandering around the home of the SAS?

A bit wierd generally. They aren't a bunch of 10-foot tall supermen with arms like Arnie and a brace of pistols on their belt. They're very much like you and me, albeit much fitter. I know of two blokes from my Army Reserve regiment that did the SAS selection course, and one of them obviously made it through because my parents bumped into his parents in the street a year or two ago and they mentioned that he was in Afghanisatan doing nefarious things, and that he remembered serving with me.

With me! Bugger me, I thought it would be the other way around. I don't know if the other bloke made it through or not - I was backpacking around Europe when they were humping around nasty hills on selection, and I never discovered the outcome on my return.

Let me just say that it was a privilege to have shared a hootchie from time to time with such fine men, and I hope that they are safe and well, sitting on their mountaintop zapping Taliban. I'm sure that the nudist beach was put their deliberately so that as they sit there in their freezing abode, they can think back to all those jiggling ladies, and remember the freedoms that they are fighting for. The freedom to bask in the sun in the nude might seem like a frivilous freedom to be fighting for, but to me, it's as good as any.


Anonymous said...

Great post, mate. Knowing a few SASR vets, I especially like the last bit.

I wasn't aware that you were a Reservist - well done, friend, and thank you.

Anonymous said...

Those guys are scary. They hang out with spooks. That place gives me the creeps it always feels like they are watching you from the dunes.