Posts Tagged ‘Queensland’

Main Beach, Southport

April 18, 2013

A Story in Pictures

When I come home to Australia – I still call Australia home, even though I have lived in the UK now for more than thirty-five years – I love to look at the sea, and at the beaches I knew as a teenager. We all knew then that Main Beach was the best, after the king tides of the sixties destroyed Surfers’ Paradise. The Council brought in more sand by the truckload, and shoved big rocks along the edge, but the surf was never the same. At least, that’s what we said in the seventies. After that – well – I wouldn’t know. I’d moved overseas. Anyway, my Mum (now 87 years old) and I drove the couple of miles from her place, over to look at the sea.

04 Main Beach erosion

Blow me down if the beach hadn’t been destroyed by those cyclones and floods and stuff that they had through the summer. Washed away. That wooden bit sticking out isn’t designed to be a jetty: it was once a platform where you could stand to wash the sand off your feet before returning to the demands of shoes and cars and civilisation.

So I took a photo of Mum by the destruction and sent it to my kids with a feeble joke about two sorts of erosion – they all responded by telling me how well she is looking. Not much eroded at all. So much for wit.

06 Mum at Main Beach

I think she looks quite nice in her grey dress against the grey waves, while the orange plastic strips give the whole thing a kind of grim liveliness. A little further along there was a warning sign.

08 tourists

I struggled but eventually managed to get a clear shot of it, past the tourists who were having a good time, milling around and taking photos. “Japanese tourists,” as my mother inevitably observed.

09 tourists in danger

And then a middle-aged chap stepped over the orange guard rail. His women folk seemed to be urging him to stand closer and closer to the edge, and he was inching along obediently. They were trying for an exciting photo – and it was a long drop. Maybe he would have landed softly, but I didn’t want to see it. “Come back, come back,” I shouted, “Dangerous! Danger!” And waved my arms, beckoning in the universal sign-language. There’s always that moment when you feel that maybe you should let grown-ups take their own decisions, and then there’s the quasi-maternal moment when you feel that you want to protect the stranger who has been having a good time in your country. Nobody wants it to end in tears. Meddlesome Jill.

Mum and I walked on – well staggered on, really, as Mum doesn’t walk very strongly or very fast these days. I was hoping that: a) we hadn’t offended them; b) they weren’t going to rush up and hit us; c) they weren’t going to come and tell us to mind our own business. None of this happened. Somewhere there exists a photo of the next moment, but I don’t have a copy. A rushing of feet behind us, and the women grabbed us round the waist, gesturing that they wanted a photo. Laughing and excited, they stood us in a line of four, arms around each other, and the same man we had saved from the waters was organised and instructed to take our photo. There were a couple of different line-ups before the women were satisfied. I bet they are good pictures – he had a terrific camera. Perhaps a little story about the kindness of strangers was even better to take home than a daredevil stunt.

Instead of that vanished photo, I can offer you a different picture of random generosity. This is a water bowl, for dogs walking the seafront, and in case you didn’t know, there are dog pawprints in the concrete leading to it. It was in fact being used by an Egyptian ibis, who was dipping its head into the bowl, washing and having a drink – but I wasn’t quick enough to get that picture. Prudent bird, it startled off when I came too close.

10 water bowl

In Brisbane: 18th February

March 1, 2010

A fresh, clear morning and I’m sitting on Ross’s patio at Moggill.  Time has done its magic trick, stitching and puckering together, and  this feels utterly familiar – continuous with the last time I was here.  It really might have been yesterday.  The neighbouring house rooves are crisply visible through the gum trees, across into the valley and over to the hills. The trees make it hard to tell how many houses are there: it could almost be bushland. Parrots scream past. Briefly my mind flicks and I perceive them as exotic – Regent’s Park parrots. Then they flick back into focus: they belong here.  They have been flashing through this bushland for as long as it has been: through aeons. Through giddying airy avenues of eternity.

There are mangoes, aromatic  of childhood and simplicity. Cut one open: this is smooth and rich, like biting into whipped cream.  Mangoes of my childhood were stringy, wildly resistant and dripped juice. They were a feral delight.

The dog is lying by my side in precisely the same position she had a moment ago in the kitchen. I toy with taking her photo as an example of dog-levitation.  It’s hard to catch them in the act: you can only get ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.  This household’s Sooty (a cattle-dog cross) can levitate with flip. (pictures to follow)

It is 7.00am and the day is waking up. I send Andrew a gloating text:  ‘Breakfast. Patio. Parrots. How you?’

(written up 1st March)


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