In Australia the ocean beach with its splendid expanses of golden sand and swirling waves rushing shorewards was considered an ideal place for children to be, especially in the summer. For the suburban family the seaside was a site for the inculcation of 'the spirit of play' as well as healthy development in children. The beach was a treasured store of memories in adulthood and an important metaphor for the conduct of living joyfully. Coastal recreation coloured the Australian imagination decisively. This paper examines notions of national identity and the nature of Australian childhood through an interdisciplinary study of historical, literary, artistic and popular media sources about Austalian beach culture in the first half of the twentieth century. Consideration will be given to juvenile and adult literature concerning the beach as part of the landscape of the human condition, in novels, poems, biographies and memoirs. The beach as a place for therapeutic treatment of children on mass will also be explored as a part of the public health movement in the early twentieth century. The notion of the superiority of growing up in a seaside suburb during the period will be examined. The presentation of children in seaside landscape in art forms, especially paintings and photographs, will also be explored for their defining qualities about ideals of physical development and beauty in new nationhood.
16th Colloque C.O.R.A.I.L.. L'enfant en Oceanie: Regards sur les Enfants, Regards d'Enfants: Actes du Seizième Colloque C.O.R.A.I.L. Novembre 2003 (Noumea, New Caledonia November, 2003) p. 28-47