Australia Two: What happens on the beach, stays on the beach

I love coming to Bribie Island. You drive over the narrow bridge from the mainland and suddenly there is sparkling blue water, soft, gentle trees on the shoreline and the famous pelicans keeping an eagle eye on both the fishermen on the bridge and the boats running up and down the Pumicestone Passsge. Once on the island it’s a sharp left and within seconds we’re home. Yesterday was a day built for sharing. School had been ditched and no-one was required to turn up to work so we went to the beach. Going to Bribie Beach is a little more complicated than “filling the eskie and grabbing your bathers.” Oh and finding your thongs. (Translation: filling the ice-chest/chilly bin, grabbing your swimsuits/togs and taking your flip flops/jandals). You need a 4wd which yesterday was the brand new ute. Most of Bribie Island is a National Park and a permit is required to access the beach with your 4wd. The vibes were good as we drove through Woorim and to the staging area at the start of the sandy track down to the beach. There was some thought given to taking air out of the tyres but hey, it was Monday. That sand would be chewed up on top but probably pretty compact. So off we went. I absolutely love going to this beach yet never once have I done so without considering death. The motion through the sand is similar to volunteering to putting yourself through the spin cycle of your washing maching – with you on one side and a sock on the other. It is a series of leaps and random wallows and seemingly unco-ordinated slides that give rise to the discussion whether hanging onto something is better than going with the flow. I am so thankful my son got his father’s driving gene but as I said before, this is a brand new ute. So brand new that it’s inspected and usually cleaned after every outing, and being brand new it’s thousand and one functions are also a learning curve. We slipped and ground our way down to the drop down to the beach where it was decided the reason it was making so much hard work of the track was the over-inflated tyres. Out came half the air. Next time I might do that first, my son says with a grin. We continued down to the beach and along the hillocks made by the last retreating tide. Above us was a microlight aircraft and when that puttered somewhere else, an Osprey which is a large bird that looks like an eagle. A little way beyond the lagoon we find our spot. And the ute is backed confidently into the bottomless pit of soft white sand and sinks. It was quite impressive watching the sand fly past and out the back as the wheels fought for grip but in the end we had to bow to the inevitable. Once we got out it was obvious we (or let’s be honest, Ben) would have to dig it out. If only we’d brought a spade. But we had brains and a few sticks – and thankfully not too far along the beach, a tradie with a Toyota taking a day off to spend with his partner and baby. He pulled us out in no time at all – he didn’t even rub it in that he could see the brand new ute was in 2wd and he was taking bets on how long it would be before we needed a tow. We can now say with certainty that changing the drive in this new ute, is not intuitative but it’s all sorted now. And after a nice chat to the tradie in the Toyota it was into the cold, cold sea. Just joking. It did feel cold when you dipped in a toe but twenty rolls from a giant wave later and trust me, water temp wasn’t even on the radar. Last time I was in this surf I was a) younger and b) fitter. Probably skinnier too but I’m not going there. I just could not get beyond the breaking point of the waves and half the time I was still working out how to hoist myself up when the next one hit. They never stopped. Every five or ten seconds – wham. That’s not long enough to get up but far too long to contemplate being smashed onto the sandy bottom and tipping end over end in a surge much more powerful than my puny legs. Once he’d stopped laughing Ben did haul me up and take me out to where you could just bounce through the waves and wonder what exactly it was that was brushing against your foot. But the waves weren’t silly. They knew I was there and proved it by breaking on my head. Four or five dunkings later I washed ashore like a podet of whale(s). But I felt younger and sillier and fitter and more alive than I had in ages. Perhaps it was the pounding surf, or the long empty beach, or the sun shine but I suspect none of that would’ve meant anything if it wasn’t for my family laughing alongside me and hauling me up. Plus I saw a Kangaroo on the way home. Add that to the Osprey and the weird turkey bird that almost pecked Fran and it was a damned good outing, topped off with dinner in the dark by the fire pit and toasted marshmellows on a stick. Winter and Covid be damned!

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