Winton and a companion step outside into a blisteringly hot day. The heat is dry and suffocating, but Winton and his partner have been cooped up in the air conditioning for too long—it’s time to go swimming. The sea is only 100 meters away, but they’re both exhausted by the time they reach it, and even when they do, the water itself is warm and hardly refreshing.
Winton’s desire to escape the air conditioning that makes comfort possible and replace it with nearly intolerable heat implies that, despite Australia’s brutal weather, he still feels called to be part of the natural environment.
The two swim slowly towards a reef in the rough current. Fish and a turtle swim ahead of them. Beyond the rocky bar, the sand is desiccated, only covered by water at the fullest tide. Winton and his partner reach the reef, which is swarming with life—lagoon rays and brightly colored fish swim through in a pattern of endless traffic. They stay watching the sea life as long as they can hold on before walking back up the beach, which holds reminders of the desert-like heat.
The fact that Winton and his companion are confident about the location of the reef and the best way to approach it suggests that they’ve done this before, many times—they’re almost as at home here as the sea creatures are. The contrast between the sea and the land on this hot day demonstrates the dramatically different environments of Western Australia.