The new bitumen bypass cuts to the chase. No meandering by beaches, no side trips to vantage points to admire the view, no flashing neon signs blinking at us in the early morning light, no headlands, no traffic lights – within the space of a conversation about plans for the day we hit the coast beaches at Tugun.
Here, another choice. Straight ahead to the border or exit to the beaches. We cut left and cross the old Pacific Highway and climb the hill separating us from Currumbin Beach. We’re giving Kev a tour of some of his old haunts and this was one of his spiritual homes. This is where the clan from down south gathered each year, where he taught us boys to body surf. Over a period of 50 years this was the first choice destination for a day at the beach.
A time line of photos would show the family sitting in the same spot on the wide beach each year lazily gazing at the ocean.
There would be a shot of two boys waving from the lookout atop Elephant Rock trying to catch the attention of the adults stretched out under the yellow and brown striped beach umbrella. There’d be one of a dad kneeling beside his beach equipment digging a deep hole for the wooden shaft of the umbrella, his strong straight back hovering above the sand. Another would show us exploring the rocky outcrops at either end of the 400 metre stretch of sand – Elephant Rock at the southern end and Currumbin Rock at the other. The scene would be of wild thrashing seas in heavy weather or in others a tranquil snorkeller’s playgound, water the colour of green glass slipping and sliding in and out of craggy rock pools.
You’d see the two boys approaching the jagged edge of the rocky outcrop, gingerly finding a path across the sharp wind-etched platform and then you’d see them racing back, ignoring the cuts to their feet, when a monster wave collided with the immovable mountain. Spumes of water would be flying 30 feet into the air and drenching the squealing kids. Mothers would be looking on in fear while fathers watched their daring sons or daughters with pride.
Currumbin Rock at the northern end guarded the entrance to a sheltered creek. In those days it was an island only accessible at low tide.
This was “The Passage”, territory of the board riders and their admiring and often bored girlfriends.
Somewhere in that collection of photos there’d be a series showing the two boys, under the tutelage of their curly headed father, progressing from beginner body surfers to masters of the 12 footers which thundered past Elephant Rock every summer, urged to their perfect form by a constant south easterly.
“Stand here. Face the shore. And when the broken wave catches you, dive forward with your arms stretched out in front.”
Shouted instructions followed us to the shallows.
“HOLD YOUR BREATH!”
‘KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!’