Lessons from going naked Down Under

What is naturism?


It’s one of the questions that popped into our heads when we were watching the sunset one night. We were all alone on an island at the coast of Australia. No phones or computers to distract us. We had snorkelled, sunbathed, and just devoured our one-pan dinner made on our one-pan camping stove. Even though we weren’t at a naturist place, we were naked anyway. There was nobody who could stop us. Nobody could be offended.


Years ago, we would have given you a solid answer, inspired by the commonly accepted definition of the International Naturist Federation. We would have told you that it’s about non-sexual nudity, in a social context, with respect for nature and humans alike. We would have told you that it’s being practised on designated beaches and in designated campgrounds, hotels or clubs.



A taste of naturism in Australia

Today, we’re not so sure anymore. Our travels through Australia over the last few months feel like we ordered the Naturist Chef’s Tasting Menu. Instead of the big naturist double cheeseburger, we had chosen the tapas plate. A taste of everything. We like tapas, but now that we think about it, we don’t really know why we didn’t bring more nibbles to the island.


The most obvious starting point was the naturist clubs. Kiata, Bare Camp, and Twin Falls looked a lot like the clubs we’re used to in Europe. Except that they have kangaroos here. These are places where naturists come to relax and socialise. Places where everyone is considered a naturist and is naked whenever the weather allows it. Safe places too, because there’s an owner or a board of directors who can choose whether you’re allowed or denied and who can kick people out if they misbehave.


New Cambium intext 4


The strange population at nude beaches

The other end of the spectrum is nude beaches. As they are public property, they are free to use for all. No matter if you have good or bad intentions. You don’t even need to intend to get naked, nobody can force people to undress in a public place. Well, technically, we’ve seen a number of really good cases of group pressure over the years. We don’t mind sharing our beach with the clothed, if they respect us, we respect them. But there is an undefined threshold and once it’s reached, things become awkward. 10% clothed is fine, 50% is so-so, 90% is pretty uncomfortable.


As a result, one nude beach is not the other. In Sydney, we visited a nude beach called Cobblers, which was a social haven. People were smiling and talking to each other, almost as if a huge group of acquaintances had all decided to meet up. Friends, couples, and singles, all happy together. A 10-minute walk further was another nude beach with a completely different atmosphere. There was no talking but a lot of staring. Lins was the only female. A trail of tissues in the bushes told us that not everyone came here to sunbathe.


With singles too, we believe that there’s this “comfort threshold”. This is one of the main struggles within naturism. We all take pride in how accepting we are. How age, gender, and skin colour don’t matter when you’re naked. Until everyone else is different from yourself.



Curated naturism

When naturism is about accepting and respecting others, can there be something like “curated” or “selected” naturism? Well, yes, this is not a new concept. Many naturist resorts maintain gender quotas or make it harder or more expensive for singles to join. Sometimes they are very open about this, but most times less so. It’s often called discriminatory or against naturist values, but truth be told, it works.


The GetNakedAustralia Cruise was one of the most fun naked events we joined in quite a while. Both age and gender balance were excellent, something that can only be accomplished by being very selective. It goes even further than that, most guests either had been to a previous event or knew someone who had.


Maestra Banner
If you believe that naturism must be available for all, you probably won’t like this concept. But then again, it’s one of the very few naked parties we’ve been to where lots of people were dancing naked in a very small space and everyone behaved. In fact, this probably isn’t even the case at most clothed parties. Can respect for all and open for all actually exist together in our not-so-perfect world?




A little side note here is that GetNakedAustralia isn’t a naturist organisation. Neither is their cruise called a naturist cruise. They follow the definition of naturism in the sense that it’s about non-sexual nudity in a social setting where respect for oneself and others is the highest value. They just don’t adopt the term “naturist”.


This is something we’re seeing more and more in different parts of the world. Especially younger people who like all the elements of naturism but just don’t call it as such. They don’t like to be labelled, or think that the labels are too restrictive. Or too confusing. When we asked one of our Aussie friends what he considered the difference between naturism and nudism, he said “Naturism is about striving towards a life without clothes, while nudism is when you just like to get naked now and then.”


Interestingly, another Aussie friend told us that she considers naturism as “enjoying to be naked in nature, while nudism is wanting to be naked as much as possible”. If we tell you that both our friends have a leading role in different naturist organisations, you understand how it can be confusing.





We met quite some naturists (or should we say nudists?) who take the naked life very seriously. Often retired, they sold their house to buy themselves a badass motorhome and go live at naturist resorts. Not the kind of van we used to travel around Australia, but one that would make the average apartment owner in Sydney jealous. One with a diesel tank of over 200 litres and so much comfort that most of the time they consider it better to be inside than out.


Yelma, the owner of Harmony Naturist Retreat, is not one of them. He has a beautiful guesthouse, that’s completely solar-powered, but he really comes to life when he can be naked in nature. He took us to swimming holes and waterfalls deep in the rainforest and to naked hikes through the river. None of these places are considered naturist and yet there we were, skinny dipping in one natural pool after the other. Can you call yourself a naturist if you avoid going to official naturist places but rather create your own?



Naked on an island in Australia

This leads us back to “our” island in Australia. It’s not a naturist place, but we have been naked for days in a row. It also lacks the social aspect of naturism, other than ourselves, there’s absolutely nobody here. Funny enough, that’s why we can be naked here in the first place. It’s also one of the most natural places we’ve ever been. Other than a handful of poles to put up a tarp, and the stuff we brought, there’s nothing man-made on the island.


So let’s repeat the question: What is naturism? Is one of the above more naturist than the others? Is it all naturism, even those who don’t call themselves naturist? But most of all, does that even matter? What we will remember the most about Australia is the variety of options. The naturist tapa plate. There is something for everyone, especially for those like us who prefer to have a taste of the whole menu.

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9 thoughts on “Lessons from going naked Down Under”

  1. Great article. One of your previous articles of a similar vein inspired me to follow through on an idea that had been stewing for a while. Which was to change my hipcamp site from just a campsite, to a clothing optional campsite. I agree that younger people are not adopting the naturist name or lifestyle, but do get naked pretty often. This upcoming camping season will be my first one with this designation, so I’m interested and curious to see how it goes, and whether you are right in your observations. Keep up the good work.

  2. The International Naturist Federation also seems to be evolving its original definition of naturism. On their homepage they now describe naturism as “Naturism, sometimes known as nudism, is characterised by the practice of going without clothes – whether on the beach, in the swimming pool, in a club or holiday resort, at home or in many other places. … It helps us feel more connected with nature, and promotes respect for ourselves, for others and for the environment.”
    So they now seem to embrace other forms of nude recreation as well, as long as other people and the environment are respected.

    • I think that the “sometimes known as nudism” part was added years ago when AANR from the USA joined the INF. After a while they left again, but the terminology stayed.
      The “on the beach, swimming poool, club resort, home,…” part is very recent. Several years ago, the former INF president said during an online session of BN that she made the difference between naturists and “nude swimmers”. The former being members of a club, the latter being everyone who goes to nude beaches, resorts, etc. She got a lot of negative comments about this and it became a point of discussion within the INF

  3. I don’t remember ever having so many of your videos at one time. Since I am a farmer, but unfortunately displaced now, I really liked your visit to that farm in the outback. I very well know how goats are always exploring!
    As to the question of ‘nudist or naturist’, I just know that I am against any laws against public nudity. Where I live, I have to even be careful around my apartment windows. When it is warm enough in the apartment I spend a bit of time naked, and always do my little exercise sessions naked.
    Again let me say that I really enjoy seeing your travels. You are throwing in a lot of humor and getting a lot more talented with editing also. Always interesting!


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