The swell of a decade

DSC_6028PIN ITIt was a sight I hadn’t seen for years. Cars packed into the carpark and dozens of people lined up along the lookout in silence, just watching the waves. It was as if something tragic had happened. The closer I got the more people I saw, lining the beaches, creating long silhouettes along the adjacent cliff faces.It had been a busy day, I had bounced from meeting to meeting with inspiring local creatives and young entrepreneurs. It was my first child free afternoon in a long time, so when I got in my car to drive south I rolled the windows down and turned up the stereo – embracing the freedom of a moment I used to take for granted.It’s about an hour and a half drive from my seaside town to the spectacular coastline just west of the famous Margaret River, beach after beach of rolling sapphire water that hits the white sand of the shore.

I was driving down to celebrate with my sister who had just completed the Cape to Cape: a 140km run (or hike as the case would be after day two of injuries) from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, along one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world. I was early (not having hiked or needing to shower or bandaid my blisters) so I drove up to one of my favourite lookouts, completely unprepared for what I would see.

I climbed clumsily down the cliff face at Gnarabup Beach, holding onto thick vines of salty pigface that were matted between the sand and rock. When I reached the perfect vantage point I couldn’t help but feel my breath caught in my throat. My heart beat faster, suddenly noticeable in my chest. It was less than twenty minutes to sunset and what played out before me was nothing short of spectacular. Enormous, rolling waves breaking the surface of the horizon and thundering toward the shore.

A young couple and their dog were perched on the cliff face beside me.

‘It’s beautiful,’ I mumbled under my breath.

They both nodded in agreement, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ the young guy said, awe dripping from his words.

I sat and watched as the sun dipped below the horizon and the air turned to ice. I could feel the moment in the air as the people around me climbed back up the cliff in search of warmth and shelter as the winter night took hold and the first stars of night were thrown into the sky.

I returned to my car and into the arms of my sister and we ate runny cheese and drank good wine and celebrated her awesome achievement. I listened to stories of her hike, things she had seen, people she had met, near misses she had encountered with snakes. We sat at the beachside bar and ate pizza and cradled glasses of wine in our hands and listened to the sweet tunes of young local guys and their guitars.


There is something very awe-some about the coastline in the South West. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the communities are still small enough down here that you are still likely to run into someone you know, even when you are an hour from home, maybe it’s the farmers markets and the wineries and the people still fighting to keep it what it has always been – somewhat untouched.

It’s the kind of place you leave walking backwards, so you don’t miss a minute of it. It’s the kind of place where you are happy to get up at six in the morning, the cold salty air turning your bare feet blue, just so you can watch the sun rise over the forest. It’s the kind of place that; for someone who has grown up with the Western Australian coastline in the backdrop; will always feel like home.

The morning after; complete with a little left over wine fogging up my brain I set out before sunrise, wrapped in wool, a coffee balanced between my knees. I drove north up the coast from Prevelly Beach, along Caves Road where the ocean meets the trees. The sun began to rise as I passed what seemed like a never-ending line of wineries, the first rays of the morning sun sparkled off the dewy grass.

I pulled into Gracetown, and wound my way through the sleepy town and up to the lookout. The horizon was just showing hints of they day to come with golden light breaking through the navy blanket of sky. I sat and watched as the first few surfers arrived – the sound of hard disks of wax being rubbed against boards reminding me of a previous life. I watched them pull the tight skins of their wetsuits over their dimpled skin and race into the water.

I sat there until the air held blue and the sunlight washed the sand in gold, the air still crisp, the waves still huge and the first of the surfers dragging their boards back up the beach, lips still blue, and hearts racing from the thrill.

‘They say it’s the biggest swell we’ve had in over a decade… they haven’t seen the half of it’ I heard chuckle through chattering teeth.

‘You going in?’ an older guy asked me, his blue eyes locking on mine as he ducked against his board to block the icy wind.

It’s been almost three years since I’ve been in the surf, and I didn’t realise how much I missed it.

‘Maybe next time!’ I called out to him as he ran back to the warmth of his station wagon, and then I smiled because I realised I had meant it. Maybe next time.


*** **** ***

This post was first published on Kidspot as a part of Voices of 2015 and the #shareaustralia challenge.  Inked in Colour was named top 3 for the parenting and style category – and I’m super grateful for your continuous support. Thank you!. 

Similar Posts:

  • September 2, 2015 - 8:04 am

    jenn - Perfectly written. I love you heaps. xReplyCancel

  • September 2, 2015 - 1:43 pm

    Rae Hilhorst - Love your words xxxReplyCancel

  • September 2, 2015 - 4:26 pm

    Erin - Reading that, i felt like i was there. Thank youReplyCancel

  • September 2, 2015 - 9:46 pm

    Emma Elliott - Just wow,wow,wow!
    I use to surf a very long time ago, here in the Uk< Devon, Cornwall and loved it. It is magical.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *