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wave refractions and bull sharks

Nineteenth of October, 1972.

All day in the city hunting down a corporate job and meeting all kinds of people. Five more tomorrow, then one in Botany. I hope it’s not a good one.

I took the ferry home and before turning around Middle Head’s Gubbuh Gubbuh to head into Manly Cove up comes this little yellow boat sailing by on the port side. Weathered mainsail up and one man at the wheel. A lot of rust on the hull.

I knew who he was, so I waved him welcome. Waved until he looked over my way, then he waved back.

David Lewis. Ice Bird.

David Lewis wrote about the skill Polynesians developed as they travelled the South West Pacific, how they read wave refraction to determine the direction to a land mass.

So for a while I’ve been gazing down onto the Richmond River from about one hundred feet up, reading the moving chequerboard.

Remnant incoming swell from the Pacific traveling west to the Wardell bend, some refracting from the opposite shore, coming back on a vector, crossing the path of the incoming swell, colliding with the northern side walls, bouncing out and back to the south.

You get to know the sounds fish make at night. The sudden surface surge of a Jewfish. Shivers of sound from a flight of small fish. A grunt.

The Richmond.

About mid-afternoon the river was glassy under a clear sky, not a catspaw crept anywhere. The smaller boats had gone back to their trailers, jet skis done with their noise. The only distinguishing sounds were the yells coming from a mob of young blokes jumping into the water from the jetty-side of the RSL about a thousand feet up river.

‘Down there, look!’




‘There, look, there they are again!’

A hundred feet up river, close to the sea wall, two razor-sharp cuts in the surface. Both big fish travelling in parallel. Fast.

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