WHEN MY GRANDPA lived in the house near the bay, the old wooden house with the jacaranda trees in front and splintered grey floorboards on the verandah, they would take afternoon walks down the hill and along the waterfront, under the Moreton Bay figs and flame trees. It seemed so English to me, this habit of formal walks, an idea confirmed by Jane Austen novels. Trixie carried an umbrella, which she called a parasol, and looked like a memsahib. Monty might buy fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, or Trixie might post letters, but their walk was a promenade, timed to coincide with high tide. My family always read and listened to the weather report: rain, temperatures, winds and tides. At low tide, grey mud stretched out towards the shallow brown water of Moreton Bay with its humped sand-islands on the horizon. Fishermen waded through mud with buckets of bait and soldier crabs swarmed in hundreds. I swam in the water once and came home with a rash on my chest and thighs.
Pollution! I said. Chemicals!
Already a subscriber? Sign in here