Shortest day followed by longest night
BELLARINE residents have celebrated the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice by taking a freezing cold dip in the Barwon River.
Participants from regular Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove swim groups – including River Swimmers, RAAF’s Icebergers and Ocean Swimmers – took part in the event.
Organiser Adie Currie said she organised the swim to embrace the winter spirit.
“Winter can be such a gloomy time, particularly throughout COVID, and going out into the ocean brings people together, it’s calming and grounding,” Ms Currie said.
“To be able to celebrate the solstice by doing something we love with the community is really special.”
Winter solstice occurs when the Earth’s southern pole tilt is at its farthest point from the sun.
Despite the darkness, cold weather and howling winds, many swimmers claimed they would do it all again.
Ms Currie said the cold water was invigorating.
“It gives you a high, you don’t really think about anything else while you’re doing it because you’re trying to stay warm and concentrating on your breathing,” she said.
“We love the ocean and the health benefits of swimming in the ocean.”
Many of the swimmers had glow sticks, some wore wetsuits but others took the plunge wearing no more than bathers.
The swim started at Barwon Heads jetty, and participants then swam with the incoming tide, under the Barwon Heads bridge to finally arrive at the Ozone Jetty.
Regular RAAF’s Iceberger swimmer Murray Joseph spoke to the Times as he was about to take the plunge.
“I’m not regretting it yet…but, I might be once we get in the water,” Mr Joseph chuckled.
Winter solstice is also known as the ‘shortest day’ as it is the day of the year with the least amount of daylight hours.
The Bellarine and Surf Coast experienced just 9 hours and 32 minutes of daylight on the solstice day.
The extra darkness also provided some much-needed cover for another annual event. RAAF’s iceberger swimmers also do a separate ‘full monty’ nudie swim on the morning of the solstice.
Nadine O’Connor was the first person to emerge at Ozone Jetty and was philosophical about the event.
“What else am I going to do on a Saturday night?” O’Connor exclaimed as she raced towards her towel.
Fellow participant Anna Nissen said she will be back next year
“It was freezing at first but then it was really beautiful,” she said.