Who? When? Where?
Named for the suburb it’s located in, the best time of the day to visit Redhead Beach is first thing in the morning, when all the other suckers are struggling with their breakfast bowls and wrestling with their coffees. You have the benefit of a mostly empty beach, save for those people who are dedicated enough to have already struggled with their breakfast bowls and wrestled with their coffees - the walkers, the dog owners and the 4-Wheel-Drivers. And maybe a sneaky camper every now and again.
In terms of the offerings that Redhead Beach offers up, it’s got its facilities clustered around one end of the shoreline. Closer to the bluff - there’s a gigantic cliff near one end of the beach - there’s a sizeable car park, the surf lifesaving club, a canteen and also a shark tower. It’s one of the safer areas to go swimming, as it’s monitored by volunteers in the summertime.
Further along the beach you’ll find the 4WD spot. It may be worth checking out to see whether there’s a need to pay a permit to participate, however, as there was discussion last year in the community around the introduction of a payment system to monitor 4WD activity on the beach.
Holiday homes along the coastline are available for rent, if clandestine camping doesn’t take your fancy.
I'd like to clarify that Redhead Beach is not only a dog-friendly beach, it is a fantastic place for dogs. The dunes and small scrub climb high towards the back of the beach, providing insulation against the wind for anyone entering the area, and that's where you'll find paved walkways and lookouts through swampy areas just rife with unexplored territory for the adventurous pup. The beach itself is a blank expanse of sand that gives an easily view of any dog that's bounded off to play amongst whatever beachy debris has washed up on the shore, and of course, the main attraction: the ocean.
In all honesty, I wouldn’t consider Redhead necessarily as the most well-known beach in the Newcastle region - nor would I consider it the best. But, it has its moments.
I have many memories of simple morning walks along Redhead Beach. When the dunes aren’t bursting with people and the sun’s sitting just above the horizon, its heat radiating along the sand and warming your skin. When the only thing you can hear is the sound of the waves fizzling on approach the low tide tentatively licks the shoreline.
That’s where I found myself blearily trawling along on the morning of Halloween in 2012, cheered by the fingertips of the sea caressing my toes, and passing by the occasional happy canine. One tiny fluffy white Maltese looked particularly pleased with itself, trotting along with a bit of red decorating its snout, having obviously gotten into some sort of berry or something from the bush.
Or, at least, that's what I thought until I happened upon the splayed corpse of a stingray ten metres further along the beach. You know, one that has its innards gouged out and spread across the sand. Happy Halloween.
But life's a beach and then you die, right?
The reason it's important to tell this story is because, despite the fact that Australian beaches have a tendency to be marketed as some otherwordly paradise, the reality is that they're still located in Australia. You know, the land of sweeping plains and deadly spiders and snakes.
That being said, there's no reason that Australian beaches can't both be utopias of breathtaking beauty and also a place of natural dangers. Redhead’s no different.