the left just up from winda woppa, a recipe, a breakfast. trawlermen.
– and of their five children only Russell moved out of their small tenement in Redfern by choice and after a solid grounding in the city he gave away the life and married Helen the Italian grocer’s daughter; a small girl, dark-haired and argumentative. She was the one who snatched him off the street,
– and she bullied him into moving to Newcastle in 1961 because the steel mills were hiring and when BHP finally gave it all up as a dead provincial loss in 1999 they had to move up the coast to Hawks Nest and there it all but ended for them in a small caravan on a block of land just behind the low dunes at Winda Woppa.
^ up there .. ..
Azure seas, unblemished sand, forest to the shore. A poor man’s paradise.
A rich man’s envy.
They had baby triplets at the time and every one but one of the red-faced noisy little demons was a boy and there was no doubting Russell’s despairing commitment to his family as he took the job as the acting part time assistant groundsman and bandicoot controller at the local golf club for $8.50 an hour,
– where all the members pretended to be worth more than double of what they owed and every Friday to Sunday no matter what the weather that they all drank discounted schooners and watched NRL and ate the worst food in the world courtesy of the local caterers most of whom graduated from the poisoned hot oil dens of inner Sydney.
The two boys grew big bones and started surfing the local break just a little up the road and Mum being worried about their stamina and growing frames would only let them go after breakfast which was always six eggs cracked and softly mixed into a frypan over crisped up bacon pieces and then all covered in grated cheese salt and chili pepper and placed in the grill to bake the top golden then she served it up over buttered toast with a chopped chives from her garden. Her daughter was partial to a little chopped fresh tarragon,
– she was her mother’s favourite child though no-one ever knew.
Then they all disappeared over the dunes for every hour of sunlight that the sky allowed them. Away to the distance, that curved sweep of trackless beach.
These days the boys are all professional fishermen and if you ever take the time to buy a few dozen oysters and a few beers at the Nelson Bay Co-op and find a sunny spot on a pontoon just beside the Police wharf on a Friday afternoon you might bump into a few of the lads as they set off for the Tea Gardens Hotel for a night’s entertainment in Russell’s big engined old tinny.
Sitting around in the stern seats wearing clean shirts and jeans they pop tinnies and talk in the low voiced grumble of men who have known each other on the water for many years. Smoking, drinking, every now and then looking over at the fellow sat in the sun having a drink and an oyster chaser, one or two remembering him from a session around at one mile recently.
An imperceptible nod.
They are waiting for a couple of beach fishermen to arrive after their have completed their business at the local hotel.
Saturday night, $40 a bag for premium local bushy. Kids fom all over town.
They don’t have a lot of time for tourists up there, being a taciturn bunch of old hard heads, but sometimes an oyster shared can lead to this and that and after twenty minutes a stranger in town might learn of wild places over the water that break in long fast lines under certain conditions only as long as he keeps it under his hat.
^ just up there .. ..
play me first … …
I’ve not been getting your posts…
…will now check my subscriptions. (I dropped by because I thought you would have posted again by now, and realised that I am all behind with my reading.)
Those damned oysters again with their pearls of memories . . . from Byron Bay, down to Tea Gardens, with so many places in between, all the way back to Redfern and the Bellevue Hotel.
maybe if I write it down I won’t have to remember it anymore – howareya pk?
Is the writing working, or is it simply a matter of de-cluttering?
How am I? Thanks Pete for asking but answer depends on whether you want me to be polite or honest.
de-clutter (?) is that like calling your skin a tent over an ungoverned imagination, or what ..
Michael Nyman an unexpected soundtrack to this vignette Pete, but it works. Gives the men in this story a heroic edge. Or maybe the words are the story of the men and the music the story of the mother and daughter…
I’m trying to figure out what to play for tonight’s effort – ta k