I’m back on a beach with backstory, after visiting a few unfamiliar beaches. Pickos is the next beach north from Potato Point (Spud, of course): the names come from the familiarity of long proximity. It’s a small beach, with shade, a rare thing on Australian beaches, contained by the low rocky cliffs of Jabarrah Point and Blackfellows Point.
Many years ago when the children were young, there was a great flood. Foam filled the beaches and the wind tossed foam balls in the air, creating a surreal landscape, a landscape from another planet. The small circle of Pickos was full of this foam, and it filled the road alongside the beach, reaching over the bonnet of our car when we drove through it. It left a rim of grease on the car and also on the kids who insisted on walking through it. The sea below the cliffs at the southern end of Spud looked like whipped meringue, the stain of river water giving it that baked look. Explanations were various, usually involving oil from eucalypts inland decanted into the flooding river. There have been episodes of foam since then – in one a boy nearly drowned, going under to rescue his dog and becoming disoriented – but none on the scale of that first one.
One day I sat with a friend in the shade on Pickos as she made me a necklace I still love – sparkling purple glass. Last time I visited it there were the remnants of Hughie’s Hut, a stone edifice with driftwood roof my son built for shelter when he had no car and got sick of the to-and-fro of surf watch in rainy weather. Over the years it was expanded by other builders, with intricate passage ways. Now there is no trace of it.
Today the beach is empty except for a group of wallabies lounging on the grass, unperturbed by my presence. I see kangaroo footprints in the sand, seven of my paces between each one, and a sandpiper who obliges by letting me photograph, albeit from a distance. I think his name is probably Marsh Sandpiper, but I’m open to correction. He aids ID by sporting a very long upturned bill, although he doesn’t let me see its colour, or the colour of his legs.
After the rain, streams of water are running down the rocks, their sound a gentle counterpoint to the thwump of the waves breaking, the unexpected gift nature usually hands me when I go out. The rocks on the northern end are honeycombed, and between sand and casuarinas there are piles of loose rounded rocks. I don’t visit the southern end because there’s a stream to leap.
As I’m leaving, a National Parks truck stops and two men get out with shovels. I hope their only plan is to re-embed the “No dogs” sign. Without reason, I fear for my little streams, which could well interfere with some master plan other than nature’s.