The Return of the Native

IMG_2398Apologies to Thomas Hardy but I don’t think he would mind my borrowing his title. He would understand what it’s like to go in search of a childhood memory and find something else.

I set out to find a place called Mooball Beach. It’s on the map and 50 years ago there was a picnic shed there and nothing else. Today there wasn’t even a picnic shed.

Nature, and the Parks and Wildlife Service have triumphed it seems.

IMG_2408On the day I was last here in 1966 the weather was wild and the sea was ferocious. That didn’t stop us kids going for a quick, tentative swim on the water’s edge. The memory of that day and this place has stayed with me. I decided to try and find it again.

Today the weather was kinder, but I still didn’t like the look of the waves. Treacherous and unpredictable. The warning sign on the path didn’t inspire much confidence either:

Large waves

Strong currents

Stingers and sharks.

Loosely translated that spoke: “Keep away from the water”. And I did.

Funny how a place keeps something of its spirit, even after 50 years. This coastline looks much the same as it has for centuries, if you discount the sand mining leases that dotted the dunes in the 50s and 60s. They have all been completed now and the land returned to how it was. Kind of special to stand here and look around. A solitary observer on a lonely beach.

Then I saw I wasn’t wholly alone.

Some time before, a sea bird had fallen out of the sky and now lay at my feet. Its time had come and it was at rest; slowly disintegrating into the dune.

It occurred to me as I stood here for a while, feeling the breeze and hearing the surf, that this was and remains one of those places where the gap between the spiritual and the material is paper thin.



Years pass. Boys grow up. Sometimes, if they are lucky, they can experience what moved them as a child.

I walked away knowing I had been in the presence of something that deserved my respect and reverence.


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