On the following day, our destination was Rosemarie’s trip down memory lane. She has a fetish for Squeaky Beach, so named due to the noise made by your feet on the sand, something that can only happen if the grains are all the same size and shape. Go figure.
En route in the car, I stopped to take a photo. Strangely, there are those in this world who have no trouble believing that I would stop to do such a thing.
No sooner had I snapped off a shot at the Norman Lookout than a lady asked me to take a pic of her and the Japanese couple who were accompanying her.
In between shots, she was keen to proudly explain how many years she and her beau had walked this promontory and that her husband’s ashes were now scattered on Mount Oberon. Glancing at the fire-charred slopes, I couldn’t help myself and quickly retorted, "Well, he’s got plenty of company now!" Fortunately, she had a sense of humour.
We drove into the Squeaky Beach car park, a piece of asphalt that hadn’t existed last time Rosemarie was here. I’m not allowed to mention the exact date of course due to sensitivities about how old one might be! The weather had turned in our favour. Fluffy white clouds drifted across a classic Australian blue-sky background on a pleasant autumn day, when the warmth of the sun serves to counter the cooling effect of the surfside breeze.
The first thing that occurred, however, was that our car was attacked by not one, but two, brown thornbills. Innocuous little creatures and rather obviously imbued to human presence, they proceeded to peck their way through the plethora of splattered insects on the front of the car. Kind of gave a whole new meaning to "Meals on Wheels," I thought. Putting this behind us and hoping for a much cleaner car on our return, we trudged off to the seashore and the famed squeak.
If first impressions count, then Squeaky rates. This gorgeous beach, backdropped by the Anser and Glennie group of islands on a balmy autumn day with soft onshore winds, didn’t require any natural sand tricks. It was enchanting enough without them. Red, lichen-covered rocks, diamante blue waters, pristine white sands, yellow banksia-covered headlands... this is a site for sore eyes (pun intended, as if you didn’t know).
Sitting on a dune mid-beach while a zephyr flexed the occasional piece of dried seagrass that lay half buried in the squeaky sands, I reflected on how fortunate I had been to be in this place on this day. The sheer bliss of the location escaped us not, and we tarried alternatively on the soft sands and the smooth granite outcrops, where we watched the swells explode onto the rocks in varying degrees of power and frothy displays.
Thus sated mentally, we crossed the headland to Tidal River and the kiosk, where the more material sating could commence... except I forgot my wallet!
Penniless and using my selling skills to the nth degree, I talked my way past the female proprietor, being careful to blame Rosemarie for not reminding me to bring aforesaid wallet. The lady duly recorded my name and telephone number (not, unfortunately, for a moonlight dalliance) and then handed over the sustenance, and we repaired to tables outside.
It was only seconds, or fractions thereof, before crimson rosellas gatecrashed our feast. Putting temptation in their way, I left the Glad-wrapped banana cake beside my hand as the bird sought to tear strips off it, an activity I quickly discouraged with a "Golly gosh, don’t do that you lovely creature." Okay, maybe there was an expletive deleted or two in there somewhere.
On our return journey, we again soaked up the autumn sun as we crossed the famous Tidal River, where Rosemarie’s father used to fish, though its fame was not derived from that activity but more for the fact that it has given a name to the area where visitors can camp or park their motorhomes and caravans.
We returned through the maze-like scrub that sheaths the headland, at times blocking out much of the light, at other times revealing tantalizing glimpses of Norman Bay, the beach adjacent to Tidal River.
Just beyond, on a seat on the granite was a poignant reminder of the treachery of the sea. Two small plaques recalling the tragic drowning of two young foreign tourists were set into the back of the seat. At the apex of the headland, the scrub clears, and Squeaky Beach shines like the icon it is. We spent over an hour crossing the sands; a walk, when focused, that would be consumed in 15 minutes, but we were consumed by a different passion--that of savouring the moment, of "smelling the roses," of soaking up more than the water, of watching the Pacific gulls and shearwaters idly pecking the debris, some of which were the carcasses of other shearwaters, no doubt dashed to extinction by the fury of two nights previous.
Nothing in life is permanent.
So it was that when we reached the carpark, we were surprised and joyed to find a welcoming committee of crimson rosellas. What a pleasant way to end the day. Watch the rosella on our car. Watch the rosella land on Rosemarie’s arm. Watch the rosella land on Rosemarie’s head. Watch the rosella crap on Rosemarie, all down her back. She did a dance of appreciation (I think), thence beckoned the birds aflutter (or something beginning with "F"). The sight of Rosemarie running around the carpark with only a bra covering her top as we wiped the offending excretive matter away is something that will linger with me forever.
Ah, well, one of us had a good day anyway.