The tourists have gone, the cafes and shops are quiet, and the camping areas are almost empty except for intrepid grey nomads on their way north to escape the southern chill.
A crisp wind sweeps the beach, where only the locals brave the elements to fish, walk or give their dogs a run.
Surf and sun are definitely big drawcards, but winter is my favourite time at the beach.
When our kids were little, we’d wrap them up all cozy and warm and we’d go to the beach to play – to search for shells and other treasures, make icy sand castles, brave a paddle, throw a ball, look for dolphins.
Here in northern New South Wales, from June to November, humpback whales are coming and going along their migratory highway. Seeing them breaching and playing just off the beach makes you want to wait forever for each magical glimpse.
But there is plenty to do around here that doesn’t involve the beach – or practicing your whale whispering techniques.
Try an early morning climb – with that last chain-assisted scramble – up Wollumbin (Mt Warning), the remnant central vent of an ancient volcano and an icon of the region.
Or slightly easier (with goosebumps of a different kind), paddle up the river towards the mountain. Along the way, you’ll see raptors riding the thermals above you. Last weekend, we counted twelve raptors, possibly square-tailed kites, in one breathtaking group…
If you’re not into chilly water sports or ‘hill’ climbs, there are so many forest walks around here – and so many stories. Like the walk to Protestors Falls on Terania Creek near Nimbin, the birthplace of Australia’s environmental movement in the late 1970s.
Or head down the trail in Springbrook National Park to the Natural Bridge, created over millions of years by water tumbling through the roof of a basalt cave.
For something a little more civilised, the Taste of Kingscliff is a delicious foodie fest in July 2014. We’ve booked in with a bunch of friends for the Long Table feast under the stars, so more on that in July…
Then there are weekend markets, the Mt Tambourine wine trail, theme parks, the Currumbin Sanctuary, places for golfing and cycling, cozy bars and cafes, music, and more.
This is the kind of place where, once you dig your feet in the (now chilly) sand, you never want to leave. For too long, anyway…