Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beach Interlude

The Beginning

God himself
having that day planted a garden
walked through it at evening and knew
that Eden was not nearly complex enough.
And he said:
"Let species swarm like solutes in a colloid.
Let there be ten thousand species of plankton
and to eat them a thousand zooplankton.
Let there be ten phyla of siphoning animals,
one phylum of finned vertebrates, from
white-tipped reef shark to long-beaked coralfish,
and to each his proper niche,
and — no Raphael, I'm not quite finished yet —
you can add seals and sea-turtles & cone-shells & penguins
(if they care) and all the good seabirds your team can devise —
oh yes, and I nearly forgot it, I want a special place
for the crabs! And now for parasites to keep
the whole system in balance, let . . ."

". . . In conclusion, I want," he said
"ten thousand mixed chains of predation —
none of your simple rabbit and coyote stuff!
This ocean shall have many mouths, many palates,
many means of ingestion. I want
a hundred ways of death, three thousand regenerations —
all in technicolor naturally. And oh yes, I nearly forgot,
we can use Eden again for the small coral cay in the center.

"So now Raphael, if you please,
just draw out and marshall these species,
and we'll plant them all out in a twelve-hectare patch."
So for five and a half days God labored
and on the seventh he donned mask and snorkel
and a pair of bright yellow flippers.

And, later, the host all peered wistfully down
through the high safety fence around Heaven
and saw God with his favorites finning slowly over the coral
in the eternal shape of a grey nurse shark,
and they saw that it was very good indeed.

We're back from an idyllic five days at Malua Bay on the south coast of New South Wales.  It was my birthday treat in lieu of a party (there was French champagne and a celebratory atmosphere nevertheless). I desperately needed to breathe sea air and squelch my feet in sand.  It was all a bit last minute involving a spontaneous application for leave from work and a late night, frantic search on Stayz, my favourite online accommodation finder.  It was a tough ask to find a place to stay not far from Bateman's Bay as most properties were already booked for the holiday season.  But we found a three-bedroom, two-storey townhouse in a secluded part of Malua Bay, made the reservation hastily and bolted down after work.

I'm always pleasantly surprised how close Canberra is to Bateman's Bay compared to Jervis Bay/ Shoalhaven where we normally go for family get-togethers.  Under two hours, with potential stops at the charming little towns of Bungendore and Braidwood, and only one gut-clenching, twisting, mountainous descent. 

We drove down the Clyde Mountain in the dark.  Unfortunately, as we were to discover the next day when we could appreciate where we were, our accommodation wasn't on the beach side. Still, it was near a tall eucalypt forest with relaxing views and the sound of parrots and kookaburras and an easy stroll to the beach.  There was a beachfront playground at the end of the street which always makes a good first impression.


There's nothing like an early morning stroll to greet the sea and the rising sun. I spent a lot of time gazing at rock pools and staring at the horizon, squinting. Wading along the shoreline, tripping over the frills of waves, avoiding clots of sea weed, getting the cuffs of my duds wet, listening to the rhythmic repetition of the breakers further out. 
Blissful sigh.

I made mental note to get in early to book another seaside getaway -- perhaps one every few months -- so we can become familiar with all the beaches down that way, Rosedale, Lilli Pilli, Mossy Point, Guerilla Bay, and find a favourite retreat.

We did think that, serendipitously, we made a good choice of Malua Bay for a first-time visit.  Our favourite beach for swimming was the next one around from ours called McKenzies Beach.  Thoroughly recommend it, especially for children.

I'll tell you more about our fishing expeditions, touring and bushwalks later.  Right now we have Australia Day festivities to attend at Commonwealth Park.

Advance Australia Fair.


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