10 July 2011


A week ago, I spent two days on the South Coast of New South Wales, staying a few hundred metres from the beach on the escarpment overlooking Guerrilla Bay. It is located a few kilometres north of Broulee. The beach is very photogenic, an endlessly fascinating subject. The sand, the rocks, the shells, the water, the waves. The waves particularly bear extended watching due to the endless patterns they produce when meeting the shore.

Early on Sunday morning, imbued with the spirit of exploration, I descended a trackless cliff-face, confident it was possible to reach the bottom safely. Contemplating the descent, I told myself that a kid would definitely do it and I would be fine if I stuck on my ass. Before descending, I mused that I could compose poetry, take still photos and film the experience along the way if I had the requisite equipment attached to my head. My mission was made a little more challenging by carrying a tripod and camera bag on my back, both with single straps, but it had to be done. Also, don't cross the straps over your chest if you are carrying such items, they can easily conspire to strangle the neck.

As it was, I was able to stop at selected points to take both photos and video, before awareness of the precarity of my situation drove me on. My ability to compose poetry was neglected amidst the experience, although my voice to camera produced such gems as, "The road less travelled is oft the ordeal less encountered." The main thing is I am not too old for such capers and it was good to feel alive as only such an adventure can make one feel.

Certainly others had taken my approach to reaching the beach as evidenced by snapped branches on dead trees and scuff marks on living ones. From a technical point of view, I am sure it was an easy climb, given the abundance of split rock face and trees. You can not go too wrong with a living tree of a sizable size. As it has managed to find purchase to reach its state, it hath the virtue of a root system to support a greater weight. My youth was spent climbing using grasses and such to manoeuvre myself.

The genius loci blessed me and I arrived safely at the bottom with limbs sound and intact; having observed new varieties of Casuarina en route. The pressing need to enter the sea naked then surged forward within me. I managed to get up to my knees - tremendously soothing after straining the joints and then spent five minutes bathing the rest of me from that position; accompanied by much vigorous yelling as my parts encountered the cold, cold water.

A local fisherman wandered around the cliff face just as I emerged and began to dress. He denied the evidence of his sight - downcast eyes ignoring my slightly quivering pale form as I pulled on my clothes - to express surprise when I told him I had been swimming. The water was 14 degrees Celsius he confidently told me with the hint of a grin and I have no reason to doubt his words, for few they were and fishermen don't waste words.

Later in the day, upon seeing the cliff and hearing of my adventures, one of my companions emphatically informed me I was a bloody idiot. That is all the praise I need or desire. If or when I learn how to edit video footage I will share a short-film of my adventures.

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