Waves & Particles > by Rod Baker

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The sand grains were popping in and out of my awareness beside me like quantum particles.

As I walked I carried my shadow along the beach and the free grains, blown by the warm northerly winds and bouncing across the sedate wet sand, would be suspended in sunlight against the shadowed backdrop. Popping in and out of my awareness.

In and out of existence in my universe.

Beside me my brother walks. 10 years my elder he is pondering the bundles of grass seeds tumbling past us south down the long crescent of sand that constitutes Hazards Beach on the Freycinet Peninsula, the millions of years of evolution to devise such ingenious methods for dispersal and the proliferation of their race. I guess if you are given a few million, billion, years to think about a problem you are bound to come up with a few good ideas.

A species is just one of nature's thoughts. We are just a passing fashion. The occasional casuarinas holds on to the grass covered sand dunes on my left. The layers of sand are littered with millions of oyster shells from thousands of years of Tasmanian Aboriginal feasts. To my right is Oyster Bay. The Oyster Bay tribe was one of the biggest and along with The Big River (Derwent) people they put up a fair fight. For a while. Gone now. Just echoes in the survivors.

We walk past a cormorant, lazily drying in the sun. We approach a pied oyster catcher who starts walking in front of us. Yolngu Yaku, Gathaka, ngarra-ku yolngu Yaku Gathaka The yolngu name for the oyster catcher is gathaka. That is my Yolngu Name. My brother laughs at its stupidity for continuing to run away from us. I romanticise the situation to an ambassador's welcome.

We catch up with two more Gathaka and they briefly show the way together. It is unusual that for one to be without a mate. I show my brother their Yolngu Dance. He thinks I am just imitating their mating dance. `No, that is the Yolngu dance they do in ceremony'.

`Oh'. The dance has your elbows bent with the hands, holding a small branch, up and you rapidly move your forearms and wrists to the beat most other bird dances have a closer resemblance to the funky chicken.  If you watch an oyster catcher fly it flaps its wings more rapidly than other birds it's size.

We continue on, bare foot, pack on back, down the beach to be welcomed by other birds. Ocean Gulls with their clean black and white colour scheme and red tipped beaks A tern, rare these days, flat sharp head and angular wings that make them look fast A heron with its elegant long neck and soft grew plumage. The tern squares and harasses the Herron. The Heron slowly takes to the air and leaves for somewhere more peaceful.

At the end of the beach we find a geologists sacred site. The interface between dolerite that has intruded into the granite It tells its own story. This is a special place. Covered in the memories of Aboriginal People not so long gone. Dolerite with its fine crystals because it cooled fast, searching like fingers into the cracks of the granite. The granite has large crystals because it matured slowly, ponderously, underground with time to mature into something...

These are the places I am looking for, places with stories that can be woven with layers for many to find a connection with. There was a great battle. In the age of the Jurassic The Devonian Granites had ruled for so long but a new impetuous tribe came blundering in and spewing onto the surface These new people called themselves Dolerite and although they were made of the same elements they came with a very different agenda.

But you will probably have to wait half a decade before I have really found those stories. An hour or so later we got to cooks beach. Named after the bloke who set up a sheep farm and built a stone hut, still standing and housing bushwalkers. A swim reminded me of just how bloody minded and stupid you have to be to get in these waters. A longer dip reminded me that the phrase I must have heard a thousand times `it is not so bad once you get in' surprisingly, is true.


9:49am, Mon 23 Jan | Freycinet, Tasmania check out Rod's blog on Nomadology