|Lake Munmorah, looking north and somewhat east, towards Newcastle (Australia, 2013)
From the lake it wasn't that far to Lakes Beach, through an arm of somnolent suburbia. I strode past Halekulani Bowling Club with its attendant courtesy buses, crossed the channel which connects Lake Munmorah and Budgewoi Lake. Budgewoi actually means "meeting of the two waters" in the local Aboriginal language, and I wouldn't be surprised if the name sprang from this very channel, the one I was lucky to cross today. I continued over the Central Coast Highway, its asphalt surface burning hot in the sun. Waves could be heard crashing reassuringly not too distant, and there was a soothing salt smell in the air. I looked forward to being able to walk along the beach, and feel warm, soft sand between my toes. But the ocean also provokes in me a fear which is close to primal, so I was a little apprehensive about getting close to it. When I walk along the coast it feels like I am literally on the edge of the Earth, and I worry about falling off. Kind of irrational, but that is how it feels. Perhaps it is a symptom of agoraphobia.
|Michael's Walk floats across this meadow, on the Budgewoi Beach Circuit (Australia, 2013)
As I traversed the sand drifts and scrub which bordered the ocean, I realized that the hot sun was making me thirsty. I looked out wistfully for a vending machine, but I knew I would never find one, not out here. I was on the edge of civilization, the interface of the cultivated world and the primeval nature from which it sprang. Even if there was a vending machine out here, it probably wouldn't work. This was not Japan, where green tea reprieves await you at every bend in the road, even way out in the wilds, near the summit of Mt Fuji. No, this was not Japan at all. I cut through the scrub, where volunteers had toiled to restore natural vegetation to the Pacific shore, and located some kind of path. The path (named Michael's Walk) led me to a boardwalk which floated over a patch of dry swamp. At the end of the boardwalk I found a sign describing the dune restoration project, dedicated lovingly to the memory of Julie Luff, a local resident and dunecarer.
|In memory of Julie Luff, a map of the Budgewoi Beach Circuit Walk (Australia, 2013)
Michael's Walk, the dedication to Julie Luff, and now Shane's tree, I thought. It seems like every square inch of land here is named after someone!
|Memorial to a guy named Shane (Australia, 2013)
|Bird Island, off the Lakes Beach, in Wyong Shire, NSW (Australia, 2013)
|Tumbling down the stairs on to the warm sands of Lakes Beach, near Budgewoi (Australia, 2013)
Sometimes these days it feels as if I am living in a floating world, cast adrift on a rising tide. The ground beneath my feet seems solid enough, but I know that the whole continent is riding like a raft on a magma sea, creeping north, irrepressibly. Above me the sky, that infernally cheerful blue sky... what could be more steadfast than that sky you might think, what could be more dependable? But like the ground, the blue sky is a deception, a lie... you could even call it a mirage. The sun is not yellow at all, it is white, and the blueness of the sky is merely an effect, caused by the scattering of the solar radiation through the atmosphere. As Einstein boldly proclaimed, we are all trapped in our own little bubbles of relativity only rarely encountering all the other floating bubbles out there, like ships passing in the night. Rare is the man or woman intuitive enough to notice when the bubbles bounce against each other in a momentary collision, soft film walls yielding ever so slightly. Rarer still is the man or woman who can pierce the film which separates our floating worlds in a resounding pop!, and dive through the mirror from one universe into another, merging with it, breathing underwater.