Here & Now with S Sorrensen - Mar 25

Broadwater Beach.

Saturday, 2.30pm:

For weeks I’ve wondered where the sun was. I searched everywhere. I was starting to miss it.

Now I’ve found it. It’s here at Broadwater Beach. It has shrugged off its clothes (like I have) and is just hanging about, slowly moving towards sunset drinks.

This is my favourite beach. I like its soft chocolate rock, its wild wind-carved escarpments, and its lack of shops. (Consumerism attaches itself to nature like barnacles to driftwood. Exploitation is accepted as moral. Economic growth is sold as necessary for human happiness. But these are lies spread by toxic systems which devour their creators.)

The sea is nearly always a bit wild here.

Here, it doesn’t have to conform to tourist brochure expectations or play between the flags. Here, the ocean just thumps about in an unruly way, disgorging broken shells and jetsam onto the shore with every wave.

Still wet from my swim, I stroll southwards along the beach. I step around discarded water bottles, a thong, a toothbrush, two sunscreen bottles, tangled fishing line and chunks of styrofoam. There’s no escaping this junk. I have walked on uninhabited beaches on the remote Wessel Islands in Arnhemland where plastic rubbish defined the high-water mark.

Lately, the sea has been calling me.

I am by nature a landlubber. I live in the shade of the forest. I prefer Cuban heels to surf sandals, cowboy hats to pink zinc.

But lately, I’m drawn to the sea.

The beach ahead of me is empty. Behind me, my two companions loll on the dark rocks, drying off. I hear snippets of laughter surfing the salty zephyrs that nuzzle my sarong. Above me a sea eagle hangs on those zephyrs. In the distance I see Evans Head shimmering like a mirage. From that mirage emerge two specks on the beach.

They say that when someone you love is dying, you see them more clearly; you love more fiercely. I love this beach. And I feel a great sadness. I know that’s silly. But tasting the salty air, feeling the sun on my skin, seeing the eagle’s shadow on the sand in front of me, hearing friends’ laughter mix with the gentle crashing of waves – all this moves me. I don’t want this beauty to be lost to the greed of men, the blindness of deniers, the pox of consumerism, the irrelevance of politicians.

But I’m already mourning.

The specks become larger. They have an accompanying noise. Diesel motors.

I know I’m supposed to shut up and ignore the elephant in the room. Everything’s fine. Just take the money. Google something. Watch Survivor. Eat tuna.

Two 4WDs rumble up the beach. The first one is a ute – one of those ugly new utes that you see on TV crashing through rainforest creeks. In the back stand young lads with tanned skin, sunglasses, matching tatts and chemically tinted hair. They hold Fourex Gold cans in one hand and grip the roll bar with the other.

Yes, I know that on this beach it’s legal to drive a vehicle. It’s also legal to clear old growth forest, sell uranium to Russia, and add poison to drinking water. Money rules. Resistance is futile.

The sea eagle deserts me as the vehicles approach. Happy smiling faces bounce over the chocolate rock, crushing it under $200 tyres.

“Hello!” they shout above the engine roar as they near, waving their beers at me in a friendly way.

I can’t hear the sea anymore. I stare at them. They’re probably good kids having fun...

“Piss off!” I yell back. “Get off the bloody beach.”

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