I’d picked up some lunch from Bakers Delight. A cold pizza and an almond scroll to be precise. Now, while the westerly invaded every space, a rocky perch was found with a modicum of protection and I sat down to savour the sea; to become immersed in its rhythms, to see foam lurching above the small rocky island just beyond and cascade elsewhere into the channel before me.
The rock platforms of Ulladulla are a listed walk, though preferably not at high tide with a big swell. Today the westerly wind had flattened the ocean’s undulations but chop was everywhere offshore. Another swell washed over the island, propelling the current in the clear channel waters right beside me. I imagined there’d be all sorts of marine life in there, though just what I couldn’t name.
For the casual stroller signs of life might be few but there’s always something. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote: It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see. Here, pools of water only millimetres deep reflected the sky so, at times, it seemed like you really were walking on air. Well, if not for the splash of your footfalls.
This is the world of the sooty oyster catcher and assorted herons. Under every second rock that’s been cast aside by the ocean there’s small crabs hiding, waiting for everything to disappear from view before they’ll scurry out again to grasp a morsel or two. All feeding on the microcosm of life that exists here.
Beneath the abundant Neptune’s Necklace growth there must be small shells aplenty and there are other strange jelly like limpets that look like chocolate blancmange with vivid strawberry topping. Turns out they are Waratah Anemone (Actinia tenebrosa).
Some outcrops support uncountable colonies of barnacles and small black and white snail types are everywhere. The water surface is rippled so that you would swear you’re looking at a fresh shimmering mosaic.
On high behind me there is Warden Head Lighthouse and the twisting single lane bush track I rode, through heath scrub that leads to half a dozen lookouts, the last of which being where I securely left the bike before hiking the access trail that descends to the platform. It’s called Coomee Nulunga Trail and passes through what used to be dance grounds for the indigenous culture. Here the natives used to gather for a corroboree to summon the good spirits from the ocean and send them inland.
The trail makes its way towards the beach, winding through the last contours in the way of the Rainbow Serpent, the creator in Aboriginal Dreamtime stories.
Below, fissures denoting the lines of least resistance are a feature of the rock shelf early on, a clear sign that the seas will ultimately have their day. The strata that makes up the cliff face is a bland insipid grey with only occasional telltale streaks where minerals have leeched through indiscernible gaps.
A fisherman comes to try his luck 200 metres further south but, after only about 10 minutes, packs up and leaves. I really couldn’t tell how long he stayed actually because time here is played out by movement of the sun and the rise and fall of the tide, the ageless metronomes of the planet and my mind is tuned in to the point where nothing else seems to matter. It’s as though your thoughts have been cleansed of worldly matters like Covid because nothing here will infect you and it’s only when I return to base that such matters are regurgitated. For now the mind engages with the flavour of the almond scroll washed down with tropical cordial and reflects on how lucky I am, not only to be here, but to be able to savour the wonders of the moment.