It’s 5:45 am, a time when most people are either still asleep or routinely hitting the snooze button before they have to drag themselves out of bed and begin their busy days. First on the beach is Ken Little. Ken, a resident of Port Macquarie for 68 years, never misses a morning in the surf.
On Town Beach we met a special group of people, to capture how they start the day. One by one, before the sun has breached the horizon, the early morning swimmers and surfers begin to converge on the sand.
A waning crescent moon is still hanging on the edge of the pink sky, and with it, a drone is doing a morning sweep of the beach, to make sure the waters are safe.
Although the waves are perhaps only a foot high today, it’s enough to catch a few early ones before work and importantly, grab a coffee from Salty Crew Kiosk.
“I’m Ken Little, and I am from Ken Little’s Fruit and Veg. I have been a resident of Port Macquarie all of my life — 68 years.
Every morning except Sunday I come for a surf on Town Beach. I love the company of the people, we have a great crew here every morning, and then we also have the early morning swimmers who come in — and they are all really friendly.
After my surf, I go have a coffee at Salty Crew, and we all get together and talk about the waves and the surf — have a bit of fun.
Other than Town Beach, my favourite spot would be Plomer. We do a road trip about every four – five weeks, and we go up there for a surf. We leave at 4 am on Saturday morning; there are usually four or five of us. And we do the same thing! After we surf we go into Crescent Head for a coffee and a bacon and egg roll.”
Kirrilly (Billy) Hughes
My name is Billy, and I have lived here for 16 years. I have always come to the beach during the day through summer, but then I saw them on Instagram, and it motivated me to come down early and join them. I try to come every day, but I work night shifts, which sometimes makes it hard. I started out swimming, and now I have started surfing. I love seeing the sunrise, and the good vibes, and of course the coffee afterwards! I really enjoy hanging out with the swimmers that come every day, there is so much to learn from them, and I love their stories.
My name is Tony McGee, and I have been here for twenty-odd years.
I am an ex-South West Rocks boy and used to run in the mornings; now I swim.
I come down most mornings for the sunrise swim, and then I head off to work at St Agnes’ Parish.
What would you say to others who are considering jumping out of bed early and joining you all? Just turn up! It’s great, and it makes the rest of the day really cruisy.
Anyone can join us.
My name is Fay, and I am born and bred Port Macquarie.
Have you always been a Town Beach swimmer? Well, I used to swim at Flynn’s Beach a lot. Now I come to Towns and have been doing so for more than twenty years, as I live nearby.
How good is saltwater for the soul, Faye? Oh, it is marvellous! It’s healing and keeps me fit.
The people here are very caring too! I am the eldest, and they all look after me.
The water is always warmer in the winter, so it has been a bit cooler lately.
I had major surgery six months ago on my spine, so the water and walking through the soft sand is great exercise.
My name is Ruth Goodwin, and I have lived in Port Macquarie for the last five years.
What do you love most about coming here in the early morning? For me, it is about seeing the sunrise over the sea and being able to photograph it, and then have a swim as the sun rises.
Have you always been an early morning swimmer? Only for about the last three years I have been swimming, and I really enjoy it for ocean therapy — it’s great for physical and mental wellbeing.
My name is Narelle Nash, and I am only new to the sunrise swimmers, but I have lived in Port Macquarie my whole life.
What inspired you to join the early morning swimmers and get in the water every day?
It was actually my husband; he was coming for a couple of years before me, and I joined him one summer — which then led to winter, and then into another summer.
I love to meet the people who are here — especially the ones who have been coming for over twenty years. A lot of them live alone, so it is a real chance to socialise with them and learn from them — they are great role models. We live in a beautiful part of the world, and it is a wonderful way to start the day.