“Ya know what the time is, mate?” asks an Aboriginal “long grasser” sitting under the trees as we walk along the beach towards Rapid Creek footbridge on our evening constitutional. “Five past six,” I reply, ploughing onward to forestall any possibility of the usual follow-up question: “Ya got five dollars, mate?”
I’d noticed the same group earlier in the day as I cycled to uni. They were being filmed by an ABC TV crew, presumably for a story on Clare Martin’s repugnant but electorally successful ‘lock up the serial drunken itinerants’ policy. It’s a sure-fire (not to mention photogenic) place to find itinerants, a shady grove of trees and a grassy bank overlooking the bright blue ocean and the long sweep of Casuarina beach, with a pub conveniently located right across the road. Paradise for pisspots.
We saunter on across the footbridge and along the beach. Dash the blue heeler puppy frolics madly with every single one of the hundreds of other dogs, but resists the temptation to round up a horse being walked in the shallows by its young rider.
Jess chatters happily and incessantly, gradually returning to earth after her just-completed smash hit starring role as Dash the Puppy in one of many productions in Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre’s strangely titled “full moon” performance season. It finished on Sunday evening with highly entertaining teenage performances of latter day abbreviated adaptations of The Flies and Antigone at the Old Town Hall ruins. But the full moon isn’t for a couple of days yet. Poetic licence, I suppose. Anyway, Darwin is extraordinarily fortunate to have such a dynamically creative and broad-ranging youth theatre structure. I hope it doesn’t all crumble when Jeremy and Kate move to America next year. It could so easily fall into the hands of talentless wannabes, like the hairy armpit lesbians who ran Corrugated Iron into the ground before Jeremy and Kate took over and rebuilt. That’s what turned my daughter Rebecca off the place, and I haven’t yet managed to persuade her to give it another go.
We turn around at the beginning of Casuarina cliffs, just as the scarlet sun plummets into the sea. Must get back in time to see my 15 seconds of fame on the 7.30 Report. Back at the footbridge I walk ahead as Jen and Jessica try to get Dash back on her leash. A bloke is muttering something about crocodiles to a group of girls on pushbikes. As I get closer I hear him say casually “That dog is going to get taken by a saltwater croc“. I look down from the bridge and see Dash swimming at the edge of the creek, with Jess jumping down the sandy bank trying to pull her out. Across near the other bank in the gathering darkness I see a large back silhouette. A log? Rocks exposed by the falling tide? A biggish croc? Dash is out of the water now, scrambling up the bank and submitting to jen’s attaching of the leash. I look back but the silhouette is no longer visible.
The girls tell jen about the “croc” sighting. I tell her I thought I saw it too. She gives me a disbelieving look, and maybe she’s right.
The 7.30 Report appearance really is 15 seconds of fame, a long interview full of priceless pearls of Parish political wisdom edited down to bugger all. At least on a blog you can witter away to your heart’s content and no-one’s going to edit you. Mind you, they probably won’t read you either.
I wonder who you phone to report a possible croc sighting. An awful lot of kids and dogs use that beach, and the next few evenings are full tides.