Cloud is rationing the light. We take the boardwalk into the marina.
Rain starts a rainbow.
Tens of thousands of fish, small dark filaments of life, align in groups like magnets, more regiment than shoal. In parts, the surface is almost solid. Loads of Stripeys swim purposely about and what I call Squirrel Fish. I can’t fathom their missions, no colourful Wrasse today.
Pigeons are courting, Purple Rock Crabs stand their ground below. The colour of their blood is baby blue, Peanut worms use purple blood, leeches green. It depends on the oxygen-binding protein. We all use exactly same energy molecule in our cells (ATP), even plants and bacteria. the colour of skin is neither here or there, one of the girls looks First Nations.
Four girls, leaning over the rail, are watching two sizeable Rays, arranged on a canvas, top and tail, a symmetry specially for the camera. They say they are Cow but I think Bull. They are biding their time.
There’s a shark, one says. I lean over, dangle my eyes, the water’s restless. Come here. One makes room. Tells me its beneath us. Leaning over, I nearly lose my cap. Still can’t see anything. Then a torpedo with flanges and sticking-out-bits, a kind of sunken ghost emerges. The elements disintegrate, refracted by the water soldering rock to the bed of sand.
The camouflaged shark lies dead still, a Banded Wobbegong I think, possibly Spotted. There’s so much we still don’t know about these wild looking animals.
We climb the sacred Gumbaynggirr hill, Giidany Miirlarl, an island once upon a time. A White-bellied Sea Eagle glides south, can’t stop. The fleece frays.
Three Black-shouldered Kites are bouncing in the wind, wheeling wonder. Two are boisterous juveniles, almost tangling. The adult scopes the site.
A familiar face crossing the path, red with white stripes, a reticent Buff-banded Rail, fast to trot, pausing to snatch an insect morsel. Wrens skitter about the tattered ground, the male in eclipse. The area is pockmarked with burrows, a war-scape concealing the last of the season’s chicks.
I photograph civilisation, sea walls repaired and reinforced, the sea laying siege.
The hinterland rises in a series of flexible peaks, a kind of Southern Sung music tasting green.
The sun is falling through cloud, the eye traces lines of settlement and explicit creases.
It seems joyful, astonishing and evident everywhere you look. What could be unloved here?
A juvenile Osprey flows past the masts, too quick for the camera.
A dolphin surfaces, then dips away under the paralysed moorings.
A Fisherman is scaling a fish.
A yacht is heading out to sea, a space that so often seems fictitious.