Monday, February 14, 2011

This Place is Not Civilised Yet

The salmon are here! When the Leewin Current burns down from the Timor Sea, turns left where I live and heads along the south coast of the continent, salmon swim against it and into the nutrients.
I've munched down my first fire-baked sweet corn of the year and sliced  my first 'real' tomatoes into sandwiches. Eucalyptus ficifolia have flared their crimson signal to the fish and the fires. It is time for the salmon to run.
Today, sitting on a windy dune, my first sighting for the year.

Seven or eight ton massed in the window of a breaking wave.

Below ... to the left ... that helicopter shape is a pretty decent sized bronze whaler heading for the school. He ambled his way towards the salmon ...

... busted them up, poked a hole in the centre of the school like a sheepdog gone rogue and took off out the other side with a nice fat salmon. That's the bronzy exiting to the right, in the picture below.
Yeah ... nine to five has got knobs on it.

This Place is Not Civilised Yet
It is a beautiful thing, to see a green wave rise up and reveal salmon in its window.
There is a boardwalk, toilets, interpretive plaques - but this place is not civilised yet.
On a still night, I can hear the swell from my bed, roaring, a pestle grinding rocks into sand.

The names of the prisoners who built the original stairway are visible on a low tide, carved into limestone tablets. Water boils in sucky holes and the rips stretch a turquoise scar right out to sea.
"Where is the pirate treasure, the skeletons of drowned sailors?" My friend skips across a tiny beach.
We share a mutual goosey moment when we find the white cross poking out of the wild rosemary. Nearby crouches the decomposing four wheel drive that landed there in 1995. Both of us stand in the sand and stare up the dizzying cliff.

Trembling, hundreds of stairs later, I can still see the shoal of salmon. The white lace of a broken wave regularly obscures the black, drifting disc.
A dark shape moves in from the deep. The salmon circle into a solid grain, trying to become impenetrable.
They fail.
The dark shape breaks up the outer rim and wriggles lazily into the centre like the triumphant spermatozoa in that vital moment. The salmon fold away from the darkness, creating a lime green channel in its wake.


  1. A rare moment in time captured brilliantly.

  2. Nature is pretty cool. Just sit and wait and nature will throw on event for us every time.
    - and give us a nice reminder never to go swimming with salmon!

  3. Ha, yes. We used to be very quick at exiting the water at Nanarup when the schools came through.

    Thank God not very f***ing thing is civilised - yet....

  4. Here here MF!

    Spectacular Sarah, makes the soul pine for such places unspoilt :)

  5. These are fantastic images Sarah. Brilliant capture. Well done. And the words... magic.

  6. It's pure exhilaration. From the moment of seeing that big black mass in the waves and then the dark shadow move in and break them up ... Wow.
    Right now there is massive schools of pilchards making new shadows on the water out there. All the big fish are chasing them up to the surface. The petrels and gannets move in. I can see them flying across, calling to each other, and suddenly there are hundreds all dive bombing the water.
    And the sharks ... this is a real good food time for everyone. Yay!

  7. Wow Sarah that's a great sequence of pics! Where is it at?

  8. Aww, dunno. I may have to kill you after I told you!