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Byron Shire
January 25, 2021

Here & Now #35

Latest News

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A man and a woman have been charged with assault after seperate violent incidents last week, one in Byron Bay and one in Mullumbimby.

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herenow35S Sorrensen

Golden Beach, Caloundra, Qld. Tuesday, 12.20pm

The beach is awful.

Okay, I don’t mind having a quick refreshing dip in the water. I don’t mind a slow vodka and tonic under a shaded verandah, watching the waves roll in. I don’t mind an evening walk with a lover, feeling sand between my toes. I don’t mind the smell of salt mixed with rotting seaweed. But sitting here, in the hottest part of the day, frying like a salted rasher of Not Bacon, is Not Pleasant.

New Year resolution: Stay out of the sun.

The children play in the water leaving sunscreen trails rainbowing on its surface. A jetski races past, noisy, pissing into the air, creating waves that the kids bob in.

It was not my idea to come to the beach in the middle of the day. I am but a humble visiting grandparent at the mercy of the decisions of the young. (Maybe it’s payback time.) I just go with the flow and hope there’s shade.

There’s no shade here. Well, there is, under a small casuarina, but another family group has claimed it with an esky and a huge beach ball. The man (who looks like he has just eaten a huge beach ball), the woman and the child sit in the sun, while the esky and an uneaten beach ball are nicely protected from melanoma. Wish I were an esky…

Across the water lies the northern tip of Bribie Island, which narrows to a spit. The spit comes very close to the mainland as Pumicestone Passage narrows to meet the sea. Two blokes stand in the water casting their fishing lines deep into the channel. One drinks beer from a can; one smokes a cigarette.

The Gubbi Gubbi people lived on Bribie. Some still do. The sea gave them all they needed. They made rafts and nets for fishing and some people reckon they even trained dolphins to herd the fish into the nets. For thousands of years they had a sustainable relationship with the sea.

And the sea was generous in its bounty. When Europeans came to Bribie they found giant shell middens which were special areas for the tribal people. So the Europeans, being Europeans, shipped the larger middens to Brisbane where they were processed for the lime and used as mortar in that town’s public buildings. Then they replaced the middens with Queensland’s first Aboriginal reserve.

Now, the dugongs are gone, the mackerel runs are history and radiation rides the ocean currents. The sea is becoming as empty as a politician’s promise.

New Year resolution: Do not swim in the sea (or trust a pollie promise).

I should put my shirt on, but I can’t stand the idea of putting a shirt on my salty, burning back. Oh dear. Wish it would rain.

Watching my children playing with their children in this aquatic playground should make me feel happy. And I am. (Except for the sun, salt and sand thing.) But an ominous feeling passes over me like a shadow. (Shade? I wish.)

A Hobie catamaran races towards us on a beam reach. The three on board with brand new lifejackets and wetsuits execute a smooth tack and race back towards Bribie.

The year has ended. Twerking became a word and decency disappeared from language as virtual distractions took up even more of our lives while governments forfeited governance to fat corporations gleefully gouging resources from land and sea like a toddler with a spade in wet sand.

Estuaries dredged, reefs silted, fish stocks gone and Fukushima cannot be stopped.

I feel awful.

Discarding my former resolutions, I run to the water and dive-bomb my grandchildren, frightening them.

New New Year resolution: Prepare the children.


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