The Lure of the Sun

I love the sun. Warmth and light are good. When I got to LA after 27 years of living in places that lacked consistent, year-round sunshine I was in heaven. Given this proclivity for all things solar, I was naturally drawn to Queensland, Australia’s own sunshine state. With an average of 300 sunny days per year, people come here, soak up the sunshine, get happy, and never leave. But Queensland’s greatest asset is also its greatest danger. Australia has the world’s highest incidence of skin cancer, with 1 out of every 2 residents suffering from the malady at some point in their lives. Queensland takes home the prize among the Aussie states with 2500 cases of deadly melanoma each year. Queenslanders are no slouches however; they take their sun seriously and probably lead the world in sun awareness as well.

We began to suspect this when we drove into Caloundra and discovered an abundance of skin cancer screening clinics. They are literally everywhere and for Queenslanders visiting them may be as routine as picking up the dry cleaning or getting the oil changed. Pharmacies here sell sunscreen not by the ounce but by the liter. Even Richard, our friend who fears no venomous creature, is meticulous about slathering his kids in sunblock. After years of sleeping on the beach and surfing unprotected, he makes annual visits to the dermatologist to get “cut up,” or have cancerous and precancerous spots removed.

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We were impressed by the Queenslanders devotion to sun protection, so I decided to take the camera our last day on the beach to see what I could find in the way of sun gear. Here’s what I came up with:

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Then there were these people who chose not to wear hats, but for the most part did an admirable job of keeping the sunscreen applied.

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Next stop, Korea.

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