Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, February 10, 2012

On the beach

Neville Shute wrote a book in 1957 about the war to end all war. As radiation in the northern hemisphere was carried around the world on wind and wave, the last survivors arrived on a southern beach in Australia to wait for the end.  “On the Beach” took its name from a line in the poem by T. S. Eliot (The Hollow Men): “Gathered on this beach of the tumid river." Some editions of Shute’s novel now include these lines of the poem:
“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
So this was one of my earliest imaginings of Australia – a long and lovely beach waiting to decide how to die. This is the Pacific coast. This is the edge of the water world.

Sunrise Beach faces east on the eastern shore of Australia, north of Brisbane, near a seaside town called Noosa. It is part of the Sunshine Coast. The waves roll in to the long shore, criss-crossing each other as they tumble towards the dunes. The near-shore is shallow with pools created by the sand shifting from one tide to the next. From sunrise and throughout the day - but especially as the sun goes down - surfers, sunbathers, dog-walkers, strollers and especially children go down to the beach.

It’s a long beach, with fierce breaking waves at times; almost calm at others. The son went surfing on a rented board. So different from surfing the Caribbean he reported. A woman drifted on a riptide in water that you can stand in; other bathers guided her out of the current. When the weather changed, the sea turned cold and grey. But for the most part, it remained green-blue, constant in its rolling in and running out.

Walking the long beach

Sunrise surfer

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