'I found Australia’s best secret beach'
The secret's out - famous comedians share their favourite holiday spots from home and abroad - and you won't want to miss their tantalising tips.
ADAM HILLS, AUTHOR/TV HOST/COMEDIAN
I once heard a story that when The Beatles released their first single, their fans in Liverpool (who had been following the band since they began playing at The Cavern Club) refused to buy their records. Apparently they were worried their beloved local boys would become international superstars, and be lost to them forever. Of course now you can't turn a corner in Liverpool without seeing Beatles postcards, Beatles fridge magnets and Beatles (insert any household object here).
I feel much the same way about the place I've holidayed since I was a kid. I don't really want to tell everyone about it, in case they all descend on it, and it changes.
Tuross Head is a beach town on the South Coast of NSW, and it's where my grandparents settled after retirement. Its most famous resident is Eva Mylott, an opera singer of the early 19th century who also happened to be Mel Gibson's grandmother.
Let's start with the beaches. As kids, we knew them as One Tree Beach (there's a point with one tree on it), Rock Beach (it's surrounded by rocks) and Whale Beach (a whale once died there). The town itself is bordered by Tuross Lake and Coila Lake, both of which appear designed for the ideal afternoon of sailing, boating or more fishing.
As kids, we would often take our 12ft catamaran down to Coila Lake, and sail until the wind died down. When my grandmother saw the sail come down, she'd put scones in the oven, and they'd be ready when we got home.
If not sailing, or swimming, or fishing, then perhaps golf is your bag (literally). Sure, the little nine-hole golf course is built on the side of a hill, but the views from the top of said hill are spectacular. And don't worry if you're not the world's best golfer, the kangaroos that populate the fairways are not judgmental.
What else can I tell you about Tuross Head? The Boat Shed does a great fish and chips, the golf club does a good dinner, and my nana did lovely scones.
Whenever I visit Tuross these days, I'm often approached by a local who will ask: "What are you doing here?" The tone of voice suggests that they're surprised anyone has even heard of the place, let alone the guy off the telly. When I reply that I've been coming since I was a kid, there is always an "Ahhh" of understanding, followed by "It's bloody lovely here isn't it." The last sentence is uttered as if it's a shared secret.
So now I've told you about Tuross Head, feel free to visit. It's quiet, beautiful, fun … put simply, it's my happy place. Just don't tell too many people about it, OK?
Adam Hills is the author of Best Foot Forward (Hachette), host of The Last Leg (ABC TV) plus the upcoming Spicks & Specks reunion shows.
EMMA MARKEZIC, COMEDIAN/AUTHOR
If sweat doesn't pool in places you didn't know it could pool, did you even have a holiday? This is how a relaxing vacation goes for most. And relaxation was very much required during the summer of 2017.
As such, I found myself in the tropics, at Raffles Hotel, Singapore. Home to the world's most coveted brunch. With bottomless Billecart-Salmon champagne, lobster, oysters, charcuterie, roast meats, a cheese station, foie gras chef, pasties and dizzying amounts more, it's a Sunday tradition for those with cash to burn. Or who have saved up for months on end.
I attended this ridiculous gastronomic display in a white linen dress and gold strappy heels. (Funny how we dress to impress inanimate objects like boats and hotels.) And holy truffle-laced macaroni was I sweating. It seemed odd, however, that one foot was sweating more than the other. I looked down and realised that was because it wasn't sweating. It was bleeding. It's crowning glory - a painted-to-perfection big red toenail - was missing. A jammy mess in its place.
I was startled into action which only increased the perspiration. Now, as if on cue, my wig slid off and on to the floor, having been held on with nothing but double-sided tape. So there I was: bald, barefoot and bleeding.
I should mention this was my first holiday since finishing chemo. It had never been suggested cancer could be this embarrassing after the fact but, along with our hair, a lot of us do eventually lose nails. A symptom I previously thought I had managed to skip.
Still … even though I now looked like Britney Spears circa 2007, I was happy. Ecstatic, in fact. Cancer had packed its bags yet I was the one on vacation. While I requested a white-gloved waiter bring more crab legs as another fetched a first aid kit, I realised this was shaping up as the best summer holiday of my life. Mostly because I still had one.
We never did find the offending nail and the restaurant has since closed down for renovations. Are these things related? Who knows. I still don't like sweating the details.
Emma Markezic's book, Curveballs: How to Keep It Together When Life Tries To Tear You A New One, is out now (HarperCollins).
CAL WILSON, AUTHOR/COMEDIAN
My favourite ever summer holiday was the tiny tour around New Zealand I did with my Australian husband, while I was pregnant.
Distance is different in New Zealand. You can see a lot in a short time. The first time I took Chris home to meet my parents, I gave him a whistlestop tour of Christchurch and suggested we drive over the Port Hills, to Taylors Mistake, a beautiful beach about 20 minutes away. I warned him that my whole family would be astounded at the immense distance we'd travelled. Every single family member had the same reaction, and to this day "Taylors MISTAKE!?" is our shorthand for being overly impressed by something.
We drove the west coast of South Island, taking in black sand beaches, lush greenery and lakes so blue you'd suspect God of using an Instagram filter. A helicopter flew us to the top of a glacier, where we stood knee-deep in snow, taking in the incredible view and bitterly regretting our decision to wear sneakers.
Then there was the Monteith's brewery visit, which my husband enjoyed way more than me since he wasn't pregnant, and got to sample everything a second time, on my behalf. He insisted he was just being helpful.
In the North Island, Waipoua Kauri Forest is home to kauri trees Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) and Te Matua Ngahere (King of the Forest). It's impossible to oversell how breathtakingly magnificent they are (imagine my family saying "Taylors MISTAKE!?").
It was such a joy to show him my favourite places (geographically, I mean) and watch my Australian fall in love with my New Zealand.
Cal Wilson's children's books, George and the Great Bum Stampede and George and the Great Brain Swappery, are available now (Scholastic).
MATT OKINE, COMEDIAN/AUTHOR
Despite a brief argument with a cunning cab driver who tried to squeeze a few extra bucks out of my partner and I at the airport, I quickly realised why Santorini is one of Europe's most unforgettable summer destinations. You wouldn't catch me dead on a motorbike through Bali backstreets but I took the plunge on hiring a four-wheel ATV and often scooted around the island, looking out over the ocean, pinching myself. This was the stuff of movies.
We spent the first day completing the two-hour walk from Fira to Oia, where we wangled a spot among the masses on one of the 300 knee-breaking steps that lead from town down to the ocean, to watch a spectacular sunset, careful not to cop a donkey hoof to the head as local asses carried exhausted, sunburnt (and red-faced) tourists from seaside restaurants back up to their mountaintop hotels.
In the mornings we'd swim in the crystal-clear waters of Amoudi Bay, jumping off rock cliffs of a nearby island that also housed a tiny church. I'd send a small prayer to all the Greek gods on each climb, for an airline strike that would see us stuck in paradise for a few more days at least.
An afternoon was spent visiting local wineries - whose crops nestled into the dry, volcanic soil and yielded fruit that resembled lunch box sultanas, but which lent themselves to unique, fruit-forward wines that tasted nothing like their Australian counterparts.
We spent nights eating souvlakis at a local taverna and drinking enough good-value table plonk to make the 100m walk along the dark mountain highway back to our accommodation seem like a death-defying stunt. Sadly, there were no airline strikes, so after four short days that are now glued into my memories for a lifetime, we made our way back to the airport. This time, without an argument with the cab driver.
After all, we knew we'd be back.
Matt Okine's debut novel, Being Black 'n Chicken, & Chips, is available now (Hachette).
MATT COSGROVE, AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR
Our last summer holiday was a trip to Ilocos Norte, a northern province of the Philippines. Ostensibly a chance for my wife to show me and our sons her childhood home for the first time, it was a combination of rollicking family reunions and unforgettable local experiences.
The first family get-together was aboard a floating cottage tethered to the shore by rope. Once on board with our picnic, we were pushed out into deeper water over coral reefs to enjoy our lunch. Vendors would paddle past in canoes selling ice blocks or pork crackling while we alternated between feasting and swimming.
When our time was up we were simply pulled back to the beach. The oldies didn't even get their feet wet!
Each day was a new adventure.
A lumbering ox cart ride past rice paddies deep into a tropical forest to reach a waterfall. A screaming ride on the world's longest overwater zip-line to reach a resort with a bewildering mix of life-size replicas of everything from superheroes to religious icons. A spine-cracking jeep ride across rolling dunes to reach a postcard sunset.
The only downer - at the lamentably named Sexy Beach, where I emerged from the water, less James Bond and more Blofeld #nofilter, covered in welts from sea stingers! A minor blemish in a magical, picture-perfect holiday.
Matt Cosgrove is the author/illustrator of the Macca the Alpaca collection and the illustrator of Celeste the Giraffe Loves To Laugh by Celeste Barber (Scholastic).
RONNIE CHIENG, COMEDIAN
My best summer holiday would have to be in Kauai, Hawaii. December 2017. I've heard about Kauai from friends but Donald Glover naming an album after the place really made me take notice. Also, I was having some American immigration restrictions and I kind of wasn't allowed to leave the country during that period. "Where can I go on vacation that's in America but also not?" Hawaii it is. Hard to believe you can fly 12 hours from New York to some island paradise in the middle of the Pacific and still be in America. Although, to be fair, Kauai is about as un-American as you can get in America.
We landed at night and got to our hotel, the whole time surrounded by the smell of flowers, fresh air and calm quietness - a welcome relief from my Hell's Kitchen apartment where I'd been staying for the last two years. We'd arrived about 10pm and room service was closed with nothing open anywhere nearby. So we had no choice but to go to sleep early … and wake up early. And it was fine. Better than fine. It was great actually. Sleeping early, no late-night binge eating or drinking. Waking up early. Enjoying the early morning and hiking the beautiful surrounding nature. Disconnecting from modern life (while still having phone data reception). It was perfect.
If you want a place that goes all night, try every other US city. If you want peace, quiet and decent Wi-Fi, Kauai's the place to go.
Ronny Chieng's new special, Asian Comedian Destroys America!, is out on Netflix, December 17.
Originally published as I found Australia's best secret beach