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Thanks to a dog with a bandit mask, I’ve been exploring beaches on the coastal road off the Princes Highway between Dalmeny and Narooma. The aerial photo shows a bit more of the landscape than I can capture. The settlement is Kianga, and the white strip is the cycle path that runs for 8km from the township of Narooma, a lot of it hugging the coast.

It’s a peerless, cloudless blue day. There are more people on the beach than usual: a few swimmers, a few lollers, a spear-fishermen and a woman with red fingernails sitting on the rocks immersed in her iPhone. No dogs – it’s a leash area, and at this time of the year only between 5pm and 9am. Cruz returns to ball-chasing on Duesbury’s Beach with his companion.

I walk down to the rock platform, and refind my delight in rock pools. I’ve lost my accustomed sure-footedness on rocks from lack of practice, but these rocks pose no challenges, and there’s plenty of easy sand between them. I look out to ubiquitous Baranguba across a channel guarded by a rocky pinnacle where sapphire blue becomes clear ripples as the water flurries in and out; and down into pools containing rich colours (pink, green, brown, grey and rust) and a variety of shells, striped like humbugs, zigzagged black and white, matt black, and occasionally rainbow iridescence.

A cluster of seagulls fly off as I approach and reveal a couple of terns in their midst. Across the sand on the edge of the lagoon tiny sandpipers race along on match-stick legs made invisible by speed. In the low dunes, red-tipped leaves of pig face and spikes of beach grass meander across the sand.

Beside the road is a bright muralled toilet block, which features this beach when the lake is open, pelicans, cranes, volunteers, beach goers, a surfie couple with their surfing dog, an older couple with sun hats and a skateboard, a fish on a bike, a swimming horse, Baranguba and its lighthouse, and of course a tiger.

I spend so long prowling the rock pools I don’t reach the northern end of the beach. Not today.