Diving into our backyard pool, the cold water swirled over my bare body.
I feel so free, I thought.
Soon after, my wife Dee, then 54, and I found ourselves with an empty nest.
Now that our three daughters were adults aged 33, 31 and 29, what would we do next in life?
We enjoyed running Chirn Park Newsagency, but there had to be more to life than work.
Scrolling through Facebook a few weeks later, in 2019, I came across a post for Get Naked Australia (GNA) – a contemporary naturist organisation that promotes body positivity through naturism.
‘What do you think?’ I asked Dee.
‘Absolutely not,’ she said.
Little did she know I’d already requested to join the group!
While being in the nude was something I’d always been comfortable with, Dee wasn’t so confident.
Although back in the early days, Dee and I weren’t strangers to a cheeky skinny dip in a hidden river.
And after we welcomed our daughters, being nude around the home was never an issue.
Swimming in the backyard pool in the buff, we always encouraged the girls to feel comfortable in their bodies.
The older the girls got, though, the more we covered up.
While Dee wasn’t ready to go full naturist and join the group, over the next few months we had a few nudie swims in the privacy of our backyard.
And in time we were ready to dip our toes in a little deeper.
Strolling along a beach, we looked for a secluded spot away from the crowd to set up for the afternoon.
‘If at any stage you feel uncomfortable, we can pack up and leave,’ I told her, supportively.
‘What if people see us? This is really out of my comfort zone,’ Dee worried.
Gripping her flowy dress tightly, the wind licking at her hemline, Dee’s anxiety was running wild.
When it became clear we were very unlikely to be interrupted, Dee found the confidence to undress.
She wouldn’t stray far from her towel at first. But eventually she jumped into the waves for a swim.
‘That wasn’t as bad as I was expecting,’ Dee said on the way home.
Back at our place, I saw another post from Get Naked Australia, announcing their first event of the year, a beach day.
‘What if people see us?'
‘I’ll go if you go?’ I said to Dee.
‘I do love a skinny dip,’ she replied.
And by the time the event rolled around, we were as ready as we would ever be for our first social event in our birthday suits.
Meeting our new community down on the sand, we felt right at home.
Around 20 people from all walks of life, ages and sizes were embracing nudity and loving the skin they were in.
And while it was a clothing optional event, there was no pressure to get our kits off. But we weren’t going to waste the opportunity!
‘Whether you’re big, small, short, tall, male, female – we’re all different but we’re all the same,’ I told Dee.
Meeting some incredible people along the way, we all bonded over our love for nudism.
With doors opening to new adventures, we couldn’t believe how much fun we were having with our new friends.
Before we knew it, we’d signed up to be ambassadors for Get Naked Australia, helping organise more events, including bowling nights, hiking trips and more beach days.
One time, we hired a catamaran with our new friends and spent a week exploring the Whitsundays.
We saw sunrise in a hot-air balloon overlooking Beaudesert and the magnificent Gold Coast, and we danced the night away at the Nude Up Australia country music festival.
‘We’re all different but we’re all the same.'
The opportunities for living life how nature intended us to were endless.
Sharing our naked travel experiences with the world on our Instagram @roadtrips.and.skinnydips, we hope to change the conversation by normalising naturism and desexualising nudity.
People often mistake what we do for something sexual, but it’s really just about accepting ourselves as nature made us, and feeling free.
With a Get Naked Australia bumper sticker on the car, I can often be caught wearing my GNA T-shirt proudly on grocery runs too.
And while people sometimes like to cast judgement, I’m always keen for a chat.
‘What’s that all about?’ I’m asked about the logo.
So I explain, and often the person will admit they don’t hate the idea!
‘We like to go skinny dipping when no-one is around too,’ they’ll say.
Nudism has helped me shed clothes, but also to cast off mental baggage.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2021, I came through, and the nudist community helped me learn to love my body again after surgery.
Sharing my diagnosis story as part of the Nude Up Australia Festival’s ‘Grin and Bare It,’ campaign in January last year, I encouraged others to get tested too!
And after 18 years owning the newsagency, we decided to sell up shop, put our home on the market and travel around Australia, naked, in our camper trailer full-time.
We’re all set to go, but are sticking around to get to know our newborn grandson first.
In the meantime, we’re naturists at home.
‘Makes for very little washing,’ Dee tells the girls.
Adventure lies at the end of your comfort zone, that’s why we dare to bare!