Warning: If you don’t share my passion for patterns on rock faces, you might like to give this post a miss. I’m probably guilty of the imitative fallacy in attempting to create in my reader sighs of ecstasy to mirror my experience.
I’m back on the job with a series which has been languishing since December 2015. McKenzie is my 26th Eurobodalla beach: I’ve now visited about a third of the beaches my shire has to offer. The last time I visited McKenzie was probably 30 years ago, on December 25th, the inaugural “Just a vegemite sandwich for Christmas lunch, as long as there’s a surf” celebration.
This morning the sun is bright and the sky blue, with just a few clouds and initially a slight crispness to the air. It’s a small beach and exactly as I remember it, enclosed in a hug between two headlands. One end is sunny, the other in the shade. I opt for the shady end first, mainly because the other end is overlooked by a couple of houses. I crunch through deep shell grit, popping the occasional seaweed bubble. You could easily forget that the coast road swoops past just behind the sand as you become mesmerised by the patterns on the rocks. I find myself muttering ecstatically every time I turned my eyes in a different direction – not only rocks but rockpools, the blue sea, the green weed, and that Australian autumn air on my skin. I’m wary near the cliffs: the tumble of rocks is a warning.
The south end of the beach isn’t as dramatic in its patternings, maybe because sun bleaches colour, maybe because my appetite for visual wonders is sated. As I walk across the sand, I see remnants – the inside and the broken shell of a sea urchin; the curling track of a shell-creature; and an operculum, once doorway to the home of another shell-creature. By the time I leave the beach to buy a stove, pick up twin portraits from the framer, price carpet to protect against dog-grime, and acquire touch-up paint for the mini-scratches on the car’s paintwork, the sea and the beach are both occupied by pleasure seekers. Lads lie on their boards, waiting for a wave and children sit at the waterline collecting shells. I’m leaving the beach in good hands.