Aussie Surf Rescue Club

Tonight’s musings will extend on my last post concerning beauty and danger… and their sometimes uncomfortably close proximity. We had the weekend off, beautiful weather, so decided to take a short 20 minute ferry hop over to Coochimudlo Island, noted for it’s beautiful sand beaches. And it was beautiful; hot, sunny and laid back. Seemingly a world away from the mainland just across the strait.. Kids all ready for a swim…only not so fast.. It seems an unusual combination of wind and tide had washed a large blossom of stinging jellyfish into the shallows.. Not the truly deadly “sea wasps” of far northern Queensland, but capable of delivering a sharp sting from the sea nonetheless.. Hmmm….. The local lads were having a fine challenge trying to scoop them in their hands and throw them onto the beach, but were getting more than a few stings that they tried to laugh off.. The local surf rescue club was netting them into gelatinous piles of the softest blue.. Of course Luke and Aidan immediately began spearing and shredding them apart with sticks…” Better than swimming , Dad!”  Within minutes Luke flung one ashore in a spray of wet sand and jellyfish particles, hitting 3 year old Owen right in the face.. He, quite understandably, erupted into a howling tirade that alarmed even the surf rescue crew and got their attention with ice packs and a cold bottled-water eye irrigation, done by yours truly, ddu, right there on the beach…Thanks Luke…After an hour or so the screaming wound down into a piteous, fatigued weeping and sleep; we settled back into our tropical idyll…

Up for a dip? Look closely….

(In a post script on that disaster, as an act of brotherly revenge, Aidan thought it a funny idea to drop a jellyfish into Luke’s bathing suit, I’m not kidding…though he insists it was one of the less toxic clear ones…Luke spent 15 minutes rinsing out his “nerds” under the public water fountain in the local park.. You really can’t make this stuff up…..I swear!)

Satan’s bouillabaisse

As the afternoon slipped away, another unexpected danger made its presence felt in the unrelenting intensity of the southern sun at midsummer. Wonderful to bask in initially, but very soon overwhelming at height of day, it really is a physical force to respect. In the ED, as Cleveland is a growing retirement area, I see the almost unimaginable skin damage done over a lifetime of pale Caucasian meets the Sun King, in the pre-SPF 50 era. These guys and gals got cooked, plain and simple. As the votes, though meager, seemed to support showing some medical images, here’s a first, taken and used with his kind permission. The red facial lesion is a Basal Cell Carcinoma, partially resected. Note the dog-ear, from past similar excisions. Slather up people…!

Chillin’ and Grillin’, it’s the future Mr. Melanoma…
A long life in the sun

That very same evening, the boys and I went out fishing on Cleveland Point. There’s a beautiful old wooden lighthouse , a small, manicured picnic park and the Lighthouse (duh,,,) Restaurant that serves wonderful homemade Sorbet and Gelato. As we were walking into the shadowy park, happily licking, a man’s voice interrupts, ” Excuse me, if you are walking into the park.. watch out, there’s a snake right over there..” He came over with a small flashlight..seemed rather authoritative about such things….”That’s not a python (large, but harmless), I think it’s an Eastern Brown ” ( non-descript, but potentially deadly). Well that caught me totally by surprise and burst my sunshine-lollipop state of mind for sure….! I tried to get a few quick cellphone shots in the semi-dark by light of flash, while keeping my distance…see below. Even creepier, the snake meandered over under one of the small picnic pavilions and was last seen curled up at the base of the BBQ grill…. We told a few people, but left feeling like we should have set off the nuclear snake alarm or something. Especially scary as this wasn’t out in the bush, but right in a heavily trafficked area…..So Beauty…and Danger…. close cousins and role-shifters in the land down under….More later, snakes willing..! ddu

I WILL ruin your picnic…..

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