Point Lookout Headland
Deadman’s Beach..don’t ask…

We took the ferry 20 miles east or so across Moreton Bay, out to Stradbroke Island , or “Straddie”, as it’s know to the locals. It’s one of several massive sand barrier islands offshore that protects the Brisbane area from direct blows by the open ocean. The outer beaches are famous for having miles of sweeping pure sand beaches, and excellent surf breaks around the rocky headlands. Only 2000 or so full-time residents, heavily wooded, and a feeling that you’ve stepped 50 years back in time on disembarking. It’s very beautiful and laid-back, even by Aussie standards, which means very… We were lucky in seeing dolphins, sea turtles and a manta ray, all on a single day excursion.

Nolan Hat Party
Cate and Aidan at sea

Aussie Surf Rescue Club

It’s remarkable how attuned to a life around the sea these coastal Aussies are. Every beach has weekend Surf Rescue clubs, and at Main Beach on Straddie we got a close-up glimpse into their training and upbringing through the ranks to attain full rescuer status. As a clarification, these outer beaches are what they call high energy coastlines, and as a life-long New Englander/ Bostonian I thought I had a pretty good idea what that meant. Not. On a calmish day these beaches have onshore winds of 10-15 mph, 5-6 foot waves and surf that can get choppy and disorganized. The waves build fast and break quickly, aka “dumpy” waves. Not the long rolling, evenly spaced crests that are ideal for surfing; those generally occur at very specific points around headlands,….Bathing on these beaches is somewhat more akin to Maytag: spin-cycle; and you can get thrashed if you’re clueless, or drunk, or otherwise not paying attention. They rescue lots of folks, all the time…
Even more remarkable then, to see teams of 6 and 7 year olds (nippers) suited up and swimming relays out 50 or so yards through the breakers and around a temporary buoy, then racing back to shore. After 6 years of regular drills they then advance to junior lifesaver status and need several more years to become a full-fledged adult Livesaver. As these drills are playing out, older kids are patrolling offshore on jet-skis and Zodiacs to pluck up anyone caught in a rip. They ride the surf like rodeo cowboys. Meanwhile, Moms and Dads socialize at the tide line while toddlers, 2-5 year old boys and girls, are being tossed around by breaking foam like so many scrambling sandpipers. Just another saturday morning at the beach…Truly, a life defined by and very deeply attuned to the sea.

Nippers heading into the breakers

Luke out, nippers forward…!
Surf Breaks, Point Lookout
The ferry home to Cleveland
Don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful…

As a bonus tonight , for your loyalty as regulars to ddu, I have a special treat, unrelated to the sea.. Behold , the lowly, but infamous Cane Toad! Not native; a transplant from Indonesia or somewhere, brought in to eat the bugs in the sugarcane fields. But now sadly, run amok. Looks and acts just about like any old toad..but notice carefully the large venom sacs just behind the eyes. Full of venom lethal enough to kill your dog in minutes, but only if Fido is really asking for it.. Otherwise, you can look, but you better not touch…Another oddity in a long line of such…I will try my best to dig up a few more for your entertainment. Tonight, just be thankful if you have regular old garden-variety toads in your gardens at home.  They really are your friends….Best, ddu

Venom sac close-up…Mmm, tasty Fido…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>