Jemison’s is the closest beach to my home. It has absorbed many images from my past.
My two sons, their father and their mates stand at the top of the grassy track, beanies pulled down, hands in pockets, grunting their evaluation of the day’s surf. My niece holds her baby in the water as he experiences the sea for the first time in a shallow sandy rock-pool. My Most Beloved Senior Granddaughter dances and twirls and cartwheels along the beach, desperate to climb the cliffs at beach end. My son tells me with reverence that he was the first to surf a new beach formed by heavy seas near the southern headland. My artist friend scrutinises the rocks and opens my eyes to their patterns and colours as she collects inspiration for her painting. I face the dilemma of two small children, one of whom wants to fling herself in the water and swim to New Zealand, while the other one, terrified of the surf, heads frantically for the dunes. I drive the 1300 kms from Broken Hill, eager to see my two sons who live with their father, rush too fast down the grassy track and crash head over heels amongst the dune wattle. I walk along the beach at night after a meal of champagne and fish and chips with my husband and hear the resonance of the waves and the counterpointing squeak of the sand.
There are three ways to reach Jemison’s Beach. A track winds behind the dunes, between casuarinas and zeiria and monotoca and eucalypts and banksias, and emerges where a creek reflects the twisted trunks of casuarinas at the southern end.
A sandy path held in place by boards, and edged by dune wattle and a protective fence, takes you to the centre of the beach.
A steep grassy track topples you towards the north, where daisies and nasturtiums overflow from headland gardens and coastal rosemary, dune wattle and and white correa thrive. On the headland above is the village of Potato Point.
My memories go back close to forty years. And yet when I walked the beach the other day for a photo-shoot I saw things I have never seen before: the jagged honeycombing; the lichen patterns; the steepness of the cliffs against the blue sky: the rocky outcrops stretching towards the waves; and the wonderful colour and design of the rock face (featured in Jemison’s part 2)
Sometimes, in rough weather, there are sand cliffs taller than me. Sometimes, tongues of ocean reach to the creek and deposit sea-weed where there’s usually a protective sandbank. Sometimes the shoreline is littered with bluebottles, shearwater skeletons and grey pumice.
Sometimes what I capture at the beach is evanescent, fugitive: the particular patterns on the rock face, brought into definition by moisture or light, or revealed as sand retreats; treasures left behind by the sea; visitors, human or animal, or traces of such visitors; flowers and grasses changing with the changing seasons.
At the end southern end of the beach, steps lead up to the headland. Walk across it – above rocky coves and a tiny beach reached by a rough track too steep for me; underneath the flight path of sea eagles; looking across to the majesty of Gulaga – and you reach the next beach.
Another Jemison’s post at