A bit chilly, Willy: Thousands take nude dip to mark solstice

Double socks, don’t take your shoes off too early, don’t overthink it and bring a friend.

Jun 21, 2024, updated Jun 21, 2024
Swimmers participate in the annual nude winter solstice swim during Hobart's Dark Mofo festival. (AAP Image/Ethan James)

Swimmers participate in the annual nude winter solstice swim during Hobart's Dark Mofo festival. (AAP Image/Ethan James)

Those are the hot tips from among a record 3000 people who took a nude sunrise plunge into Hobart’s River Derwent to mark the winter solstice.

Shrieks and yells filled the air at 7.42am on Friday for a celebration of the passing of the longest night of the year.

Tasmanian Bec Wade, who was perhaps a little more prepared than most, said the experience was invigorating.

“There is a group of us who go (swimming) every Sunday morning,” she said.

“(But) this is iconic – to be in a big group of people doing the same thing.”

Wade and her friend Bec Trollip said double socks and a thermos with a hot drink were essentials.

“It was really hard when (the water) reached your waist – you had to push through that painful bit. But we’ll be back next year,” Trollip said.

The free swim, which started with just a few hundred participants in 2013, expanded from 2000 to 3000 in 2024 and sold out in days.

It was about 6C outside the water and about 12C in the river at the crack of dawn.

Marcus Salton, a four-swim veteran, said they definitely get easier and a larger event made for some tricky navigation.

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“Don’t overthink it. The tide was high so we were a bit squished together this year,” he said.

“Bring a friend. It is always better to do it with someone.”

Red flare guns were fired as a starting marker following the beating of drums on the beach.

“Once the drums start going … it’s this real sense of being in it together,” participant Karl Malakoff said.

“Don’t take your shoes off until the very last moment – the sand is freezing.”

The swim was part of the Dark Mofo festival, which ran a reduced program in 2024 so it could find a more sustainable financial model.

The Tasmanian government has committed $7.5 million to the music, food and art event over three years.

The festival has made a name for itself by courting controversy and in 2018 drew the ire of some by installing inverted Christian crosses along Hobart’s waterfront.

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