Imagine a beautiful warm summer morning; four young cousins paddling along the beach between the shore and the sea weed, looking at shells having a nice quiet time away from the younger kids. Now, imagine all hell breaking loose, I saw it come out of the sea weed like a big black, hairy spider. I ran out of the water screaming and pointing, gibbering and shaking, the other three just stood there looking at me like I had finally gone mad. Then each of them saw it, I think my sister walked on water that day. The other two were running away from it, still in the water, I was screaming, come out of the water, but terror has no sense.
We went racing after them, on the sand, screaming, get out of the water, there might be more. Finally it registered – they were running through sea weed, so there was a mad scramble, and more screaming, until we were all standing on the sand together. Trembling and shaking, four sets of eyes, wide as saucers, we asked each other what had we seen, surely a sea monster. The screaming had alerted two Mums and four younger siblings, thinking, again, the four eldest girls had thought themselves in some kind of dire peril. Once the jabbering idiots were calm enough, we looked for it. As we had moved down the beach like Olympic athletes, we couldn’t find the exact spot or the creature, it was decided, it must have been a mollusc encrusted crab, a big mollusc encrusted crab, a big, big mollusc encrusted crab. Even now I cannot walk in seaweed, talking and laughing about it now, still, with a hint of hysteria, we have all admitted to that.
We were out crabbing, both Dads had string around their waists attached to a tin baby bath, that floated along behind. We all had our old canvas sand shoes on, two of us girls had a digger and two had crab catchers. We girls were not too happy that there were lots of crabs, there’s a crab, no over here, quick, scoop it up and put in the bath, it won’t bite you, just scoop it up. Oh give the scooper to me, see, you don’t even have to be anywhere near it. No, it won’t bite you through your sand shoe. Despite us, we always had lovely, warm, juicy crabs for tea, cooked in drums of salt water and eaten on the beach nearby, just as the sun set on another beautiful day.
Thompson’s Caravan Park at Wallaroo was another favourite; many cool summer evenings were spent lying on the jetty catching squid, no fancy jags on an expensive reel for us, we had a homemade jag with a big potato attached to a long piece of green cord. We caught dozens of them to be cleaned and frozen as bait. Now I think of all the calamari we could have eaten.
After a week at Point Turton, the three boys had been complaining of being bored, nothing to do, they were told, in my day we were too busy to be bored, go up into the sand hills and play cowboys and Indians, take potato bags and slide down the sand hills, just do something. We hardly saw them after that, it was the best holiday ever, was the end consensus. It was here we had a mouse plague too, there were thousands of them, and we had daily counts to see who could despatch the most. Some of the catching ideas were very inventive, and would not probably be used today.
One evening at Port Lincoln we were lying on the jetty watching Portuguese Man of War Jellyfish, translucent, in the soft light of early evening, floating in a large colony, hundreds of them, the most beautiful colours, their long tentacles were swaying gracefully. How their bodies would seem to puff up with water, and they would shoot away at great speed, their poison was apparently very painful, so not much swimming that holiday.
Venus Bay, another favourite, the channel into the bay wasn’t very wide, or deep, and the only way to get in or out was on the tides, even then it was hit or miss, no joke there. We loved looking over the cliffs down onto the channel, through the clear, bright, water and watch the soldier crabs. They had big roundish red bodies, with the most amazingly long jointed legs, truly mesmerising to watch.
We four are all in our 60s and when we meet, inevitably someone starts, ‘Do you remember when we were at…’, and the memories come flooding back.
We were in a dam, somewhere in South Australia, both families yabbying. Don’t make any noise, or sudden moves, and keep an eye on your bait, a bone with a little meat, tied with a piece of string. Down the years an indignant little voice rings out, “Ouch, a abbey bit me on the toe”.
What memories do you have from your childhood? Did you visit the beach a lot or go fishing? What funny stories can you tell even now? Tell us below.