A few days after I returned from Warsaw, the walking needs of our son’s dog, currently in J’s care while said son is visiting a mate in Panama, took us to a beach I’d never set foot on before. I’ve passed it many times, driving the coast road to Narooma. It’s a rare beach where you can walk dogs all day every day. So we put the hair-shedding canine in the car late on a dull Sunday.
Duesbury’s Beach is contained by low rocky headlands, composed of 450 million-year-old, tilted metamorphic rock. Although the road runs right beside the ocean, it disappears once you’re on the beach, and you can only see the backing of bush, unseasonally luxuriant eucalypt green in the aftermath of a wet summer. There is also a bike track parallel to road and beach.
I’m not used to my beach walks being shaped by a dog. Like the twins, the dog is a bit much for me to walk on my own in my ageing feebleness, and his obedience level just about matches theirs. He loves chasing a ball, and he too has mischief in him: his favourite game is to run the ball down the beach into the ocean so it has to be plucked from the water by an obedient human. When another dog appears on the beach, our walk takes a 180 degree turn, so we put distance between him and his new desperately desired best friend.
The walk is short, but it gives me my beach legs and beach-urge again, albeit briefly. Barranguba reclines low on the skyline; ti trees lie at an acute angle on the cliff-top, their tops flattened by savage sea winds. I reprise favourite beach subjects: shells, rock patterns, foam, horizon. I’ve always had a liking for dull days when I’m out with the camera. In Night street, novelist Kristen Thornell writes in the imagined voice of Clarice Beckett, an Australian artist of mist and fog and early morning and dusk, praising what others see as poor weather: “the quiet sumptuosity and moody turbulence of greys … the lowered light of overcast skies … rain or fog making it easier to distinguish tonal differences … the bones of a landscape …a low twilight throb”. I don’t photograph with Beckett’s painting skill, but I recognise the perceptions.