September 13, 2016 admin

Dan Kelly’s guide to coastal escapes

Back in our Winter 2016 edition, to escape the cold, we took an audio trip across the Greek Islands and along the east coast of Australia with musician Dan Kelly. Now that the weather is warming up, we’re happy to share some tips from Dan on the perfect coastal escape.


Top 3 destinations

  1. Hydra (pronounced ee-dra, Greece).

I had one of the best coastal holidays of my life there. It’s not even that beachy. It has a really great port and a beautiful village. You can jump off the rocks and swim along the coastline.

  1. Broken Head (northern NSW)

I’m still really fond of the Broken Head nature reserve. Go down to the third beach – I think it’s called Bray’s Beach. You’ve pretty well got that to yourself, but you’ve got to climb down a big headland to get there.

  1. Hinchinbrook Island (north of Townsville)

The swimming is in these beautiful rainforest creeks. There are crocodiles in the creeks, but there are waterfalls up past the rocks and crocodiles don’t climb up rocks. It’s an incredible primeval island and one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been to. You walk for four to five days from the top to the bottom and you might not see anybody else … it’s not a party joint. It’s World Heritage listed and it’s the closest I’ve come to feeling primevally off the grid.

Reading list

I’m right into Karl Ove Knausgard at the moment. He’s a Norwegian writer and not a lot happens in his books. There’s a whole book about cleaning his father’s house after he died … and one of the chapters will be about cleaning a shelf. It’s peppered with these incredible insights into what it’s like to be someone of our age, at this time. He’s incredibly honest about what goes on inside a man’s mind. He’s written six books and he’s a phenomenon.

I know this sounds quite hippy, but I just re-read The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin. The books are a fantasy based on anthropological studies of cultures and their traditions. It’s so beautifully written. It’s almost like a biblical text in terms of the clarity and simplicity of the language. It’s all about the earth and the ocean and the sea … it hits you hard that book. You feel wise, like you’re not living in an age of mobile phones and selfies. Generally, I think reading fantasy on the beach is pretty good.

Bliss by Peter Carey is a great book to read if you’re hanging out on the beach in northern NSW. He just nails the late 70s/early 80s in regional coastal Australia … the small town-ness and also a lot of the kind of characters I’ve been singing about on my record.

Tim Winton is a great coastal writer. If I’m sitting at the beach, I don’t have to read about the coast, but it’s pretty good if you can combine the two.

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac is a very dark coastal book. He basically drinks himself to death on the beach. He writes about that area really beautifully. Dharma Bums was the first Jack Kerouac book that blew my mind. It’s a classic teenage book that will send you off on an odyssey.

What to put on your iPod

There’s a great African record by King Sunny Ade called “Searching for my Love”. We played it as we went driving up the Peninsula north of Broome. It’s Juju music … like an African Cruel Sea, in a really bouncy, rubbery way … beautiful soft lyrics about searching for Islam. It’s an excellent coastal jam.

Jimi Hendrix – “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)”. He grows gills and escapes to the ocean and does an incredible guitar solo. It’s beautiful.

“Albatross” by the original Fleetwood Mac, from the late 60s when they were a blues band in England. That’s the best surf instrumental ever. It’s like being underwater. Surf instrumentals can be great on the beach. Or ambient music like Aphex Twin or Brian Eno.

If you’re in party mode, the B52s first record always works on a Saturday morning on the beach. It’s total pool party music.

“Come said the Boy” – Mondo Rock, is one of the coolest and creepiest coastal songs ever. It’s got a really weird vibe and it’s sung so stridently, but it still sounds like the beach to me. I used to sit on the beach at Surfer’s Paradise and they’d have speakers that would play FM 104 – stuff like “What a Fool believes” by the Doobie Brothers or “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley. You can put a lot of things over water and they’ll work.


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