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"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints"

Chief Seattle (1786–1866) leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes

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Sun, Sea, Sky, Sand and Us

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Drifting from one location to another as we make our way further West along the coast of Southern Australia I’m struck by the expanse and the distant horizons of this great continent and the refreshing, almost frontier-like, attitude that permeates life amongst the mix of people from all walks of life that we’ve come across living on the coastal fringes far from the urban sprawl.

The simple generosity, freely given advice and ‘can-do’ spirit of those we’ve met has made for a refreshing change. I’ve been hailed walking roadside back to the caravan with shopping by a complete stranger who offered a lift when the afternoon temperature was hitting forty degrees; we’ve been given a generous helping of fresh King George Whiting fillets by a guy I got talking to on a beach who even crumbed them ready to pan fry; freely shown various methods of filleting a variety of fish to be caught here; taken advice and, as a result, been pretty successful raking for crabs, catching enough to last us days at a time. I could go on………….my point being that I have been made to feel welcome here and I relish what further there is to come for Lynn and I as we travel, living on the road and free camping as much as possible while we try to provide for ourselves as much as we can by fishing and cooking outdoors.

Much of our time has been spent at beachside camp-sites, both free of charge and paid for, mostly amongst small communities or out on our own in the bush. We love the night sky revolving above us, hardly ever marred by aircraft navigation lights or anything else man-made, just the beauty and spectacular splendour of all manner of near and far distant celestial navigation markers.

The word ’beach’ here is an understatement. We’ve walked miles alone along vistas of sand touched only by the ocean as it rolls inexorably onto a landscape shaped by water over millions of years.  Our spirits lifted further by the joy of seeing a pod of dolphin, play-surfing waves running in on an incoming tide close to shore or, out in a bay, corralling and feeding on an invisible shoal of fish made visible by seagulls and cormorants profiting from leftovers.

Sand comets, lilac-red bunches of seaweed pushed to and fro by the action of a receding tide, lay embedded with raised tails of pristine sand trailing and flaring behind like some cosmic impressionist painting. Stands of rock lean against the tireless onslaught of the tides, eroded by sand, sea and wind, lone sentinels long abandoned by the receding dunes that bore the brunt of the weather. Elsewhere, long-brittled rock-cliff overhangs fall into the sea and onto the shoreline, no respecter of the flora and fauna they once supported as they crumble, crush and crash onto previous falls that may not have been disturbed for a millennia or more. A geography of geology that the first people here would still recognise.

The palette of colour used by the hand of nature to paint the ocean and the land that holds it back is impossible to mix as the hues alter under the changing light and shade of sun and cloud. Every twist and turn of the coastline reveals hidden, inaccessible bays of unblemished beauty, the ocean breaking quietly at low tide on a horseshoe-shaped screed of fine golden to near white sand; then, at high tide, waves pound the jagged scree at the cliff base throwing up spumes of salt laden spray tasted on the wind and felt on the skin. These living, emotive, forces, often destructive, yet always spectacularly spell-binding to the spectators eye, live hauntingly, like a shadowing past-life experience within me, drawing memories, an unfathomable empathy with the loss of life and endeavour that has challenged man’s attempts to tame the ocean in the days that sail was king unexplainably almost real. Maybe, just maybe it was.
16th Jan 2017, 01:50