“Never seen a shark at Coogee beach” our host Peter assured us as we placed our towels on the sand and looked out to sea where we saw the kite surfers lifting into the air on the headland. “But there have been a few further up the coast!”
I’d thought about that 1974 movie but our first reminder of it was the road down to the beach: Amity Boulevard! So, the words ‘We are going to need a bigger boat’ were drawn from my memory as we dived into the sea here just south of Perth, Western Australia (WA). A few days later and sure enough, further up the coast, a Japanese surfer is taken by a shark. Apparently the beast got him not far from the shore.
Here in Coogee there is a shark net safe swimming area which for all parents must be a relief. As we swam outside of that the other day, the noise from the children stopped and all the adults stood still as we all saw a fin break the water. After a few seconds we realised it was a dolphin and the splashing resumed; but if a dolphin swims here why not a shark? Without doubt these warm waters suit all mammals and our desire to swim in the sea is undaunted by these events and in Australia the relationship with the sea is as strong as ever as the surf schools not only teach the children how to mount a board, they ensure they are strong swimmers.
In all likelihood the shark that killed the tourist will be hunted and slain the same as 40 years ago then. We have judged the animal in our court of law. Yet it may be a better move to invest the money in shark nets up and down the coast? The ocean is not ours but we can protect ourselves.
So what’s it like here in WA! It’s bloody hot but we have felt hotter: Death Valley, CA. There was a bush fire only about 8 miles away from us and in some places people have been evacuated from their homes. This is serious here and quite inexplicably the police think it’s arson. I’ve phoned the local station and told them that it can’t be as the only arson I know is screwing up something else in North London! Boom Boom!
Last night on our first night in Perth our fantastic host invited us to a curry meal with his friends at a local Indian. This was a great way for us to meet local people and has helped us learn so much more about the country. Two of our party live in an apartment on the beach and have a view you cannot beat. Karen (Peter’s partner) lives about 500 yards away in that same Amity Boulevard I mentioned earlier. The petrol here is almost half the cost of the UK and on Saturday night at 11.00 pm all the premier league matches are live on the TV. However, they still have struggles and problems and so my conclusion to this is if the same crap has gotten all the way to Australia then there is truly no hope; but the climate here is a huge draw for those from our country and there are Poms everywhere. So, to truly escape from civilisation, you need to book a trip to Mars, better ring Richard Branson and find out when he’s leaving.
Some great news, we have been invited for an evening sail on Wednesday night this week from the Royal Flight Squadron Club in Perth just around the corner from where Australia famously won the Americas cup in 1984. We are very excited!