On Friday i drove from Byron Bay to Fingal Head. There was a beach there i wanted to visit. First though i climbed up to the dwarfish lighthouse.
The sea below the lighthouse was punishing. Surf pummelled cliffs into small boulders.
Great spouts of water rose up and crashed down upon these rocky ledges.
Two young women climbed down onto the rocks to take photos of each other. I held my breath, watching and waiting for the plumes of water to hit, preparing my rescue plan.
But the waves were kind this time.
This is the beach I had come to visit. I was first here fifty years ago, three months after my birth.
Up close the beach seemed benign. To the left of the big rock – Cook Island – I could see humpback whales swimming past.
They’re too small to see, but there were dolphins surfing these waves alongside startled kayakers.
These are my parents, Glen and Margot. The first time I visited this beach, with Margot, my sister Yoni (5) and my brother David (2), Glen swam out into the surf to save two young people’s lives. They survived. He did not.
I thought about having a swim. To show the sea i wasn’t afraid. But when the water reached my waist i felt the strong pull of the tow around my legs and realised my hubris. Not fear. Respect. I turned and went back to the dry sand and sat under these clouds, thinking about how beauty is impervious to tragedy. Then i climbed back into my camper van and drove north to the suburbs of Brisbane.
This was waiting for me.