NOT SO BAD: Don't let warnings overshadow your fun at the beach.
NOT SO BAD: Don't let warnings overshadow your fun at the beach. Greg Bray

Humour Column: Play the odds to stay safe at beach

Folks, the first time the Von Bray's visited Tannum Sands in the summer of 1976 it was nearly our last visit.

We'd piled out of the car and hit the sand keen for a swim just in time to see a large and slightly annoyed tiger shark being dragged up the beach.

"Did you catch that way, way out on the reef?" my father asked.

"No mate, just off the rocks over there," came the cheerful reply.

We were bundled back into the car and driven home.

But, like all Australians, eventually you accept the fact that like the Kardashians, sharks are here to stay, you simply have to learn to ignore them.

Firm believers in the rule of safety in numbers, we reduced the odds of being mauled by a large finned mincer by paddling about in the middle of the bathing crowds.

Long Suffering Wife prefers to prevent possible attack by avoiding the water altogether. On the rare occasions she does take a dip she rarely strays far from the shore, and maintains a position that puts me between her and any nasty roving opportunists with stings, barbs or teeth.

Basically, while I'm fighting for my life, this will give her plenty of time to exit the water and stroll back to her beach towel where she can watch the rest of the show.

But last weekend it was hot enough for her to be driven into the sea for some cooling relief and we were joined by a couple of English tourists who were enjoying the unique experience of having a swim at this time of year; as opposed to defrosting their fingers and toes at home.

"When we saw the sign near the club house, we nearly didn't walk onto the beach but we saw all the people swimming and decided to give it a try," the woman said.

"Aren't there any sharks, stingers or crocodiles here?"

How do you answer that in a way that is honest, but won't cause them to run screaming from the water?

"No, not really, possibly, um, probably," I muttered.

"The thing is not to think about it too much and avoid swimming too far out on your own."

At this point they swam to a position that put me between them and the open water.

They clearly enjoyed their first swim at an Australian beach, it probably won't be their last.