|My Brother Graham with his first born....1967|
|Graham and Me at various ages during our childhood|
|Mervyn and Me circa 1966...photos a bit weather-beaten...similar to me these days!|
|My brother Graham when he worked with me at the resort on Hinchinbrook Island 1986/87|
|Graham...2nd May, 1998 (with steam engine in background) and cutting his 56th birthday cake, 28th February, 1998|
|View from the current Noosa Surf Club...circa 2015|
|View to the east from Mount Tinbeerwah|
|Widgee Crossing on the outskirts of Gympie|
For me the beach has never been, and never will be an area that is choked by multi-storeyed high-rises towering over the foreshore and beyond; nor is it a place where shopping centres the size of regional towns filled with hordes of people breathing down the necks of others abound. Add the extra, unwanted bonus of bumper to bumper, non-stop traffic and my spontaneous reaction is to stay well away from the fray. “Non-stop” is probably not the correct description because too often the traffic comes to a stop causing the patience of some to vanish into the ether. The mere thought of one or all of the above makes me quiver and quake...aka a “double shake”.
I know I’m getting old; I live with the fact every day and don’t need anyone else to point it out to me (the woman who dwells in my mirror does that), but because I am the age I am I remember the “good, old days” at the beach. And what great days they were!
When we were little kids my late brother Graham and I spent a lot of time at the beach. Both of us learned to swim at an early age. Graham and I ran free as the wind along the sand. We collected shells as well as cuttlefish for our canary, named “Sweetie”. We often swam in the ocean without another human in sight.
And the times trips to the beach were not possible we hiked out to Widgee Crossing to swim in the Mary River and to have a picnic around a camp fire.
Regular trips to Tin Can Bay, 52kms north-east of Gympie were on our agenda (or on Mum and Nana’s agenda; we were taken along for the ride; and we enjoyed the ride and the beach immensely...the latter more so).
With Nana we collected oysters fresh off the rocks out from the esplanade. We ate fish and mud crabs freshly caught by our mother, and by Graham the times she took him along with her. Mum taught both of us how to fish. She loved fishing and crabbing; as did Graham.
Also, when I was a little girl our next door neighbours regularly took me along with them to Noosa Heads for a day of swimming in the ocean at Laguna Bay, followed by a picnic lunch. A condensed milk tart always played a part in the picnic fare. Mrs. Butcher, our neighbour, knew I loved the tarts; therefore she always made one as a special treat for me.
I looked forward to those Sunday adventures; to reaching the top of the range at Tinbeerwah. Tinbeerwah is a semi-rural area, about 14kms west of Noosa Heads...between the small township of Cooroy and the Noosa River-side suburb of Tewantin.
Driving to Noosa we always played an exciting game. Playing to win - when reaching the top of the hill to be the first to see the ocean in the distance; pretending not to notice the adults pretending it was me who saw it first and not them.
In those days of the Fifties, and the early Sixties, in fact, Hastings Street was little more than a track.
Next to the original surf club building were outdoor showers, dressing sheds and picnic tables. The floor of the wooden, unlit dressing sheds was always wet and sandy. I disliked the dank, dark, smelly sheds. I soon became a record-breaker in the art of changing swiftly out of my wet togs into dry clothes. I was spurred on, too, of course, by the thought of the condensed milk tart that awaited my attention.
The Sixties arrived; and I felt I had, too. I‘d morphed into a bikini-clad surfer girl. Magically, so too had my group of girlfriends. We spent every spring, summer and autumn weekend at the beach.
At my urging, my brother became a Noosa Heads surf lifesaver, which was a good thing, but it was also a bad thing. Being a lifesaver was good for him, but it was bad for me. I had only myself to blame! It was my idea he joined the Noosa Heads Surf Club.
Taking his big brother role too seriously Graham believed it was his duty to steer would-be suitors/admirers of his “little” sister in the opposite direction; for them to focus their interest elsewhere - or else.
He was nicknamed "Ding-Ding" by his mates in the surf club..."just ring a bell and he'd come out fighting"!
On Friday just gone I talked at length with three of my friends from those days....ex-Noosa lifesavers who were fellow-club members (and mates) of my brother Graham.
One of the above with whom I spoke was my first husband, Mervyn.
Mervyn managed to slip through Graham’s guard, although in those days of the early Sixties, Mervyn and I didn’t really date as such. We weren’t “boyfriend-girlfriend”. He worked in Brisbane. I lived in Gympie, but during the ball seasons he always returned to town late on the Friday afternoons to be my partner at the balls. There were three or four balls a season – during winter; and Mervyn always escorted me to the balls.
And then Randall (who later became my second husband, now ex) came to town...life as I knew it changed. And then Randall went overseas...and once again, life as I had grown to know it, changed.
I was by then living in Brisbane and shortly thereafter Mervyn and my paths crossed. We married and remained that way for approximately two and half years...and the rest is history. History I shan’t write about in detail at this moment in time.
Friday just gone, 3rd June, was Mervyn’s birthday. I always telephone to wish him the best for another milestone reached. He does similar to me on my birthday. His wife, Jackie answered the phone, telling me she knew who it would be before she heard my voice. Jackie and I talked at length, too. We always do...we have no reasons to dislike each other.
The other two fellows I spoke with on Friday are still friends with Mervyn, too. One, “Laney” was our best man. He played the role again when Mervyn and Jackie married, as well. Laney was captain of the Noosa Lifesavers for many years; and for many years after he was president of the club. He and I have remained friends since the late Fifties/early Sixties until now.
“Ned”, the other friend I spoke with whose first name is really “Ken/Kenneth”, I’ve known as long. Another Gympie lad, born and bred, when he was a teenager - “a bit of a lad” (and a very good-looking one!), he earned the nickname “Ned” – in honour of Ned Kelly, the Aussie outlaw - and the name has stuck with him throughout his life. He was a bit of a rascal, but not in a bad way. Ned, too, was a lifesaver in the Noosa Surf Club.
When we conversed on Friday last, Ned and I. as well as sharing many stories, memories of the past and tales of the present, laughed over my brother Graham's nickname...particularly as I'd been thinking about it only the previous night.
Mervyn turned 76 on Friday. Laney turned 78 in May, and Ned is around the same age as Mervyn, I think. I'm the "baby" of the group - I’m tailing them by a few years...I’ll be 72 this coming November, but I keep failing to believe it to be so. It can't be true! I keep doing the math...and the answer still keeps coming up the same! Dammit!
Few cars hogged the roads back in the decades when we group of present day “oldies” were kids and teenagers. If Mooloolaba was our choice destination in 1960 we had to go along the Bruce Highway through Nambour to get there. The David Low Way hadn’t yet been opened. The Sunshine Motorway wasn't even a developer's dream. The developer probably hadn't yet been born!
The “Sunshine Coast” nomenclature came into being in 1960, but it took longer for the title to fit into our vocabulary. Noosa was Noosa; Coolum was Coolum, Mooloolaba was Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headland was Alexandra Headland (or "Alex") etc.
In those years of yore the coast was great. I believe we experienced it at its best. We had room to spread a towel; to catch a wave. Without a worry, we could leave our possessions unguarded on the beach when we went surfing/swimming.
To me, that is the beach – the coast. It’s long stretches of golden sand with she-oaks, pandanus palms, coast banksias, angular pigface, sand spinifex etc., fringing the foreshores; not soaring, multi-storey structures, crowds and endless traffic.
My brother Graham, who would've turned 74 in February, 2016, could be such a pain, often. We had our arguments...and we had them often from when we were kids. We had our good times; we had our bad times. We experienced and shared happy times; and we had our fair share of sad times.
Regardless of it all; the good, the bad; the happy; the sad, and the in between - Graham remains in my thoughts every day, and he has permanent residency in my heart.
Thoughts of Graham are even more vibrant and alive around this time of the year - Graham passed away 6th June, 1998.
There were many times he annoyed the whatsits out of me; but I’ll always miss him.
What a beach!
Spicy Picnic Chicken Wings: Combine 1/4tsp allspice, 1/4tsp ground cloves, 1tsp cayenne, 1tbs sweet paprika, 2 garlic cloves, salt, pepper and 1/4c olive oil; grind into a paste. Place 500g chicken wings in marinade; toss well. Cover; chill at 4hrs or overnight. Preheat oven 180C; line baking tray; spread wings on tray; bake 25mins until golden and cooked through.
Picnic Pesto Salad: Cook 600g frozen cheese tortellini until al dente; drain well; cool. In large bowl, whisk 1/4c pesto, 1/4c Greek yoghurt and 1tbs lemon juice; season; add tortellini and 2c rocket; toss; season to taste. Sprinkle over grated parmesan before serving.
Picnic Loaf: Grab 1 large rustic round loaf of bread (approx 22cm in diameter); carefully cut a lid, approx 8cm in diameter off top of loaf; set lid aside. Scoop out most of the bread, leaving the outer shell. Spread 8tbs fresh pesto evenly over the interior base and sides. Thickly slice 250g mozzarella; place the slices and 400g sun-dried tomatoes neatly inside bread in an even layer; top with a handful of fresh basil leaves; then a layer of drained artichoke hearts (180g). Replace lid; wrap loaf tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate with a heavy weight on top to pack down; chill overnight. To serve, cut loaf into thick wedges.
Condensed Milk Tart – Easy-Peasy: In metal bowl, pour in 1 can Condensed Milk (not low-fat kind): add juice of 1 lemon. Mix well with wooden spoon; the mixture should get very thick. Pour into prepared tart shell; refrigerate until required.
Double Thick Chocolate Shake: Place 120ml milk or almond milk in blender; add 4tbs cocoa powder; blend; add 5-6 small dates; blend; add 1 fresh or frozen banana; blend until thick and smooth. Decorate with date syrup or chocolate syrup; top with choc bits and a maraschino cherry.