Which Melbourne beach makes the best office?

Brighton Bathing Boxes Dendy Street

The warm weather is disappearing faster than a packet of Tim Tams in my presence, so I decided that I would make the most of being on a creative sabbatical and spent last week blogging from the beach. I undertook the very serious role of investigating five local strips of sand to see which one made the best beach office.

Monday: Half Moon Bay, Black Rock

I want to say that I fully intended on coming to this slice of heaven. That it was all part of my master plan. The truth is, on the first day of my work-from-beach week I got seriously, atrociously lost and thought I was accessing a Sandringham car park when I stumbled across this gem of a beach that I had never heard of. I’ve since, hiding-head-in-shame, found out that Black Rock is a fully-fledged Melbourne suburb.

The half-moon shaped bay is home to everything you need for a decent beachside office: the restaurant-with-a-view Cerberus Beach House, a fish and chip cantina, a couple of colourful beach huts (you could easily fool your friends you’re in famous Brighton if you take your Instapic very strategically), a jetty, strip of sheltered sand and public toilets. Plus, the remains of naval ship HMVS Cerberus (scuttled in 1926) sit just offshore acting as a breakwater. The burnt orange cliffs, used in Mad Max and Round the Twist, aren’t a bad backdrop also.

Cerberus Beach House, Half Moon Bay

Cerberus Beach House, Half Moon Bay

With a temperature in the low 20s, I sat in my warm car tapping away, blissfully happy enjoying the view from my office. Only problem was, being unemployed, I had clearly lapsed into my old uni student ways and refused to pay the $5 per hour for the luxury of parking, instead putting a credit card receipt on the dash hoping that would suffice. Bank of Melbourne, Bayside City Council; details, details.

When the ticket inspector eventually arrived, because he was always going to, I decided to cut my losses and threw the car into reverse. Yet, in my haste I hadn’t moved my seat forward from my state of relaxation and couldn’t reach the pedals as the car lurched into reverse. So much for stealthily slipping out of the car park unnoticed! Finally, the electric controls that operate at a grandma’s pace brought me level with the accelerator and I screeched out of the car park in a blaze of panic, making eye contact with Inspector von Killjoy in the process. My moment of peace gone for the day.

Tuesday: North Point, Brighton

Although this technically isn’t a ‘beach’ per se, with a not-so-good weather forecast I was more after a coastal lookout that provided the views, while my Renault Megane provided the shelter. And learning from yesterday that the best discoveries occur when you deviate from the plan, I found this charming spot. Elwood, you’ll have to wait for another day.

North Point, Brighton

North Point, Brighton

And with a popular-looking café, view of the city, playground if I want a bout on the swings; I’m set! You’ll also be pleased to know that I decided to pay for parking today.

Wednesday: Brighton Beach

Brighton is so big that I didn’t really know where to start. Parking next to The Baths Restaurant, Cafe and Bar where the lounge music was drawing me in, like a bee to honey, I grabbed my beach chair and MacBook Air and headed south.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw a great expanse of golden sand completely empty, minus a few passerby joggers, prompting me to break out into a rendition of All By Myself.

But before setting up my workstation I thought I’d quickly take a look around the next bend at Dendy Street Beach, as there was something I was specifically looking for. And there they were. The sight I’ve seen on so many postcards and Australiana memorabilia: Brighton’s Bathing Boxes. And what do you do when greeted by the sight of so many famous colourful beach boxes? You do the touristy thing, pull out a camera and start snapping away like a crazy woman.

Brighton Bathing Boxes, Dendy Street Beach, Brighton

Brighton Bathing Boxes, Dendy Street Beach, Brighton

After spending the afternoon at Brighton Beach with the sun shining, black swans and yachts bobbing in the harbour, and views of the imposing city skyline in the distance, the mind was cleared and recharged. I totally convinced myself that I didn’t need to go to hot yoga.

Thursday: Sandringham Beach

Heading south of Brighton, Sandringham (or Sandy) has much more of a country, suburbia vibe about it. It also doesn’t seem to get the same cash flow injection as its glitzy northern cousin. The grasses are a little browner, the railings a little more tired.

Walking down the steep incline to the beach, Sandringham’s 2.5-kilometre strip of beach was eerily quiet, completely deserted all bar a guy combing the sand with his metal detector, a bikini model strutting her stuff for a photographer and a few squawking seagulls. I could hear Mum asking me where my whistle was!

Sandringham Beach

Sandringham Beach

Not that I stuck around to come face-to-face with another Adrian Bayley, as just like that, Melbourne’s four seasons in a day sprang into action and it was time to go and shelter from the wind and rain in a café. What a great excuse to try a milkshake served in a milk bottle from Cuppa Cottage.

Friday: St Kilda Beach

I had some trepidation returning to St Kilda. Last time I was here it was the morning after Melbourne Cup and my friend Alison and I decided we would wash down our hangover with an afternoon cider at St Kilda.

Lazily sitting at Abbey Road Cafe watching the comings and goings of the famous seaside suburb from behind our oversized sunglasses, shielding our fragile eyes from the harsh sun, we had a friend join us. Or perhaps not so much friend as foe given she was screaming, chasing and dancing us out of Acland Street, taking some serious offence to our ‘sunglasses and two beers’.

Well I’m back, minus my offensive sunglasses, and trying very hard not to make direct eye contact with anyone opting to twirl as a variant of walking.

St Kilda Beach

St Kilda Beach

And I’m pleased to report that the day went incident free. Although St Kilda failed miserably as a beach office, far too distracting with its shops, liquor licensed venues and cheesemonger’s cheeseboards at Milk the Cow. On the positive side, I may have an empty computer screen but I do have a belly full of CHEESE!!!

The verdict…

If the sun is shining than Brighton is the clear winner – there’s a reason why it’s one of Melbourne’s most popular beaches. Otherwise Half Moon Bay is a great place to park and work from the car, enjoying the scenery. Just make sure you pay for parking if you don’t want to be chased out by the landlord.

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