Leaving in a week (and walking the dog!)

With seven days to go before departure with no return ticket, it seems appropriate that the assignment due in my writing course is  “The Everyday”. Having quit work three weeks ago with the express purpose of enjoying the place I live in before leaving it, the task, to describe in detail a walk through my everyday environment, seems easy at first – the dog and I have two favourite regular walks from here at Joe’s flat in Alex Headland, one south under the Bluff to Mooloolaba and back over the headland, and the other along Alex Parade, turn left at Capone’s and through the park, over the road to the beach after buying bread from the bakery under Seaforth ( the usual reason to head that way) and back along the beach.

But there’s so much more! We also regularly walk around North Shore, along the river to the mouth, and from Pincushion north along the beach to the third exit, even more often around Point Cartwright. Thinking about the last month, I’m cross that I didn’t write more about some perfect days out, and resolve to do so. However, the job at hand is this assignment, and I choose to describe a morning walk with Chubby last week, the one where we head south to Mooloolaba, collect a takeaway coffee, sit in the sun people watching on the seafront, and go home again. I’ll insert it later.

It was a perfect morning for said walk. The tide was almost full, so hardly anyone was out under the Bluff, and feeling the temperature of the water as we paddled I decided to head to the beach at Alex for a few hours once we got home and work on a) this assignment and b) the old skin cancers. What I found myself doing in the October sunshine was reflecting on beaches in general, time spent on them with and without children, mostly with children, a pack of them on the Spit at Mooloolaba for great chunks of time every school holidays, cousins, friends, boogie boards and sunscreen, sausages in bread with tomato sauce cooked on the free council barbeques or crumbed mussels from the Fisheries for lunch, boxes of VB throwdowns, the memorable day after a cyclonic swell when we found so much stuff in the seaweed, the day of the “Shit!” waves. While packing, I spent far too long as usual looking at old photos, many of them recording days like this, I suppose we do mainly take photo’s on days out, not the everyday grind.

I also contemplated how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful place, conveniently forgetting the heat and humidity of January and February! (and I am going to India….)

The task is to describe in detail a walk through my everyday environment, and it’s incredibly hard for me only because I have spent the last month visiting most of my favourite places here on the Sunny Coast prior to departure! Where do I start? A day trip out through the hinterland, stopping at Kenilworth for cheese, driving into the creeks at Bouloomba and picnicking and paddling with the lovely Quirk family? Walking around Point Arkwright on a perfect spring day and back up to the coastal track after Bev and I looked at the amount of people scrambling up Mount Coolum and decided that was a No?

So here it is!

Most mornings it’s the Bluff, unless it’s a really high tide. We exit the flat in a tangle of lead and poop bags to a clear morning, and take about eighty steps along a grassy verge past the Alexandria Resort at the end of Mayfield Street and across Alexandra Parade, where dog stops to read the lonely hearts messages under the largest of the Norfolk pines and leave one of his own… (Mature ShihTzu, enjoys beach walks and fine dining..) Past the showers to reach a silvery old flight of fourteen timber steps to the water’s edge. Dog shivers with excitement before hurtling down, almost somersaulting onto the rocks below. I pause at the bottom where the surfers go in, look around and breathe deeply – it’s Spring on the Sunshine Coast in south east Queensland and it’s wonderful.

North to my left a lady in pink on a yoga mat meditates on a smooth platform of rock facing the sun-sparkling Pacific Ocean and beyond her the curving yellow sands of Alex Beach lead to the surf club – to my right, a smallish rocky headland, the Bluff, juts out between us and Mooloolaba. (Dog has done his business, I stop to pick it up in a baggie and smile as I wonder what dogs think about human’s so carefully collecting their poop)

It’s close to high tide, the incoming water is washing away the footprints of earlier walkers, and filling a series of lagoons that have formed this winter, sand covering the flat rock beds, the force of the swell broken by the rocky reef. They’ll disappear with the first cyclonic swells of summer, and we will be picking our way between rock pools again. It’s quiet under here, I can barely hear the traffic along Alex Parade over the Bluff, so quiet I can hear the tap tap of one of the local ospreys eating a breakfast fish on their favourite outcrop of rock. The sun is warm and there’s just a zephyr of briny air from the sea.

Looking south round the Bluff from the bottom of the steps

Only one big merchant ship is at anchor offshore, waiting for a pilot boat to guide him into the port of Brisbane 80 kilometres south through the sandy islands of Moreton Bay, and the air is clear all the way up to Noosa in the north. To the southeast there’s a prawn trawler heading into the Mooloolah River between the rock walls at Point Cartwright, it’s a smooth ride across the bar this morning for him, and far out to sea a couple of yacht sails flash and wink, white in the morning sun.

We are almost all the way round before we meet anyone – another regular. The dogs greet each other in the usual doggy fashion and his owner and I greet each other in the usual human fashion, exchanging a few words about the glorious spring weather – of course none of us know each others names, we think of each other as ‘Jack’s Dad’ and so on.

We round the southern end of the Bluff to reach the small beach under what must be a  serious contender for the best caravan park in Australia, a single row of about thirty sites  tucked down under the main road overlooking the beach. There are couple’s drinking tea and reading the paper under their van awnings, and we cross paths with three generations coming down for a morning swim; Grandmother, daughter, a little girl and what looks like her baby brother in Grandma’s arms. The little girl is running in and out of the water in a red swimsuit calling for her Mum to join her, “It’s warm, Mummy!”. It is, water temperature in the low twenties and wonderful for swimming, and the dog and I paddle for a while past the van park along the waters edge and through the rock pools as a busload of schoolchildren emerges and forms an untidy chattering crocodile up in the shade of the she-oaks lining the car park beyond, clutching towels and heading for a swim on Mooloolaba Main Beach just ahead.

The lead’s back on, up a grassy incline to a path that runs between the car park and the beach towards the Mooloolaba Surf Club. This tarmac car park is separated from the road and the apartment buildings across it by a series of turfed banks with shady trees, and getting a park there on a morning like this is like winning the lottery. We make our way under the pandanus trees lining the path through joggers and dog-walkers; here’s a girl in corporate gear with laptop open and a takeaway coffee working away on a bench, and on the next seat along an elderly couple are hand in hand, he’s wearing a purple shirt, bow tie and braces and looks ready to go dancing while she has pulled her tee-shirt up around her neck and is basking in the sun in an enormous flesh coloured bra. The lucky families who got a car park are settling in on the sands for the morning,and the cafes and coffee shops across the road are doing a roaring breakfast trade, I can smell bacon and coffee.

Mmm, coffee. Crossing the Esplanade I am spoilt for choice – it’s lined with everything from juice bars to fine dining, but I head for The Good Bean, a small establishment in the row of old shops that miraculously remain opposite the Mooloolaba Surf Club, the only section of the Esplanade not to have been replaced as yet by a modern resort complex. They only have six or seven tables, milk crates padded with old jute coffee sacks serve as seats, but they are, as always, fully occupied, iPhone’s everywhere, and there’s a small queue snaking out of the door waiting for their takeaway orders, mostly locals like me that know they make one of the best coffees in town and don’t charge extra for a double shot.

Once mine’s ready, not long, the dog and I cross back over to the ocean to find a sunny bench on the Loo With A View… when the local council renovated the toilets and showers they created a spacious deck on top with uninterrupted views out over the water. Clever. It’s cool and breezy up here in the afternoons, but now I sit in the calm warmth, dog now worn out and happy to rest by my feet, watching the morning unfurl on the golden sand below. The water is crystal clear, turquoise with tiny but perfectly formed waves, children are splashing and running and calling and digging, and there is much rubbing of sunscreen and shaking of towels, the creation and claiming of little patches of family territory on the beach marked out with umbrella’s and esky’s and folding chair’s. Heavenly.

PS. Dog’s favourite walk is around Point Cartwright, I know you were wondering!

http://www.sunshinecoastholidayparks.com.au/holiday_parks/mooloolaba_beach_holiday_park/

2 thoughts on “Leaving in a week (and walking the dog!)

  1. how i miss our walks with our furry children around pt cartwright. i remember chubby & lucys smiling faces & wagging tails. a good read Bekk. i have fallen in love with the sunshine coast again 🙂 love you girlfriend!

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