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So Long And Thanks For All The Fan Mail

By Dr Rob Brander on August 9, 2011 in Other

There’s nothing like visiting the dentist every six months to remind you how fast life is passing you by, unless of course you come to the sudden realisation that you’ve been writing a column for The Beast for well over two years! It seems like yesterday that editor Dan was asking me to join the team with the offer of a free smoothie and the promise of a wild and crazy Christmas party. Well, that Christmas party is going to be a monster, given that it has been almost three years in the planning now! Unfortunately though, the truth is, I’ve run out of gas, so this is the last edition of Science of the Surf.

I suppose I could talk about waves, but I’ve done that to death. Sand? Nah, did it twice. Storms? Sorry, did that last May and even that was a thinly veiled re-hash of an earlier article. So what about the magnificent beaches of the Eastern Suburbs themselves – a top five list perhaps? That sounds good, but based on what? Surfing? Swimming? Hippest cafe? Picnic potential? Lifesaver and lifeguard interpersonal relationships?

It’s all too hard, but here are my top five anyway:

1. Tamarama;
2. Bondi;
3. Bronte;
4. Clovelly;
5. Coogee.

See, what was the point? There are only really six beaches to choose from anyway (sorry Maroubra).

I’ve always wanted to do a sentimental piece lamenting the gentrification of the Eastern Suburbs. Does anyone remember what the strip of shops used to be like along Bronte Beach? Or the old wooden lifeguard tower at Tamarama? And the Sunday night bands at the Cloey? Or even Clubbies vomiting all over the path (and themselves) after a Sunday afternoon end of patrol drinking session… hold on, that still happens.

I’m also tempted to write a socio-cultural essay on the beaches themselves. Why is there so much grumpiness on the coastal path? Forget about nighttime assaults, the most frightening thing for the average power walker steaming towards Bronte is some freak smiling and saying ‘good morning’. Whatever happened to good old Glamarama? During my years as the Tamarama SLSC caretaker* in the mid-90s, hardly a day would go by without a model shoot. These days it’s hard to find a topless sunbather that isn’t an English backpacker. And the lifeguards are award-winning television stars – these are strange times.

Unfortunately I’m not that deep; I’m just a coastal geomorphologist**. So for now, I’d like to thank all The Beast readers who actually read my articles over the last few years, as well as Dan and James for the free smoothie. Most of all though, I’d like to acknowledge the lovely person who sent me an email thanking me for my articles. It was the only fan mail I received in over two years. It was very kind and I’m so sorry I accidentally deleted it before I had a chance to respond.

*I took over from Jack ‘Bluey’ Mayes, one of Australia’s pioneering surf legends of the 50s and 60s, who was the Tamarama SLSC president/caretaker and had a penchant for sunbathing nude on the club balcony.

**and best selling author

Keep an eye out for Dr Rip’s free Science of the Surf talks around the Eastern Suburbs this upcoming summer. Or just buy his book instead at


  1. I had never heard of Dr. Rob Brander until 05Jun2012. I am sorry to read that his column in the Beast has been discontinued, but he taught me more about ocean currents in a day than I had learned in over six decades of living near the Appalachian Mountains of the USA. Thank you Dr. Rob for the quick education and for the website One of your UNSW rip current videos is linked to a US government website about the weather, and should help to save lives every year as people learn more about the beaches. Thanks again.

    Why does the Beast not have a link to a privacy policy? Please do not release my email address into the commercial domain. It would be nice to have a privacy policy so that we could know for what purposes that our email addresses will be used.

    Posted by: Dick | June 6, 2012, 6:29 PM |

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