Great Place in the World

Editorial by Phil Marshall
Celebrated young author Ellen van Neerven’s thoughtful and acerbic play on tourist reviews, ‘Great Place in the World’, heralds the halfway mark of Chart Collective's Longer Light Series.
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"Wonderful walk but a bit of an effort"1

Reviewed 5 January 2015

The coffee rock on the headland beach is a bit imposing if your Christmas was inactive. It can be an effort on a warm day. Many times you will want to stop and admire the water.

When you climb, you will soon realise it is your mind that is getting in the way. If you keep this up, your head will get sore, your neck will get sore and you will get sick. Switch off and let your legs find those grooves. Don’t think of your coddled feet. They can handle a bit of battering.

Take plenty of fluids with you, as the sunshine can be strong. There is no van selling drinks on the beach. This is not India. Some of the rocks are wet, making them really slippery, so take care on these. Overall, sitting down (or sitting on someone else because the rocks are rough) and watching the surfers makes it well worth the effort.

Visited January 2015

 

"Great place in the world"

Reviewed 6 January 2015

A great place to be. It is very accessible if you have a car. I regularly walk several sections of my favourite beach in the afternoon. I walk over across the coffee rocks that split the beach in two, to the other side of the beach and then back. There are rock pools. You can see wildlife if you want to. When I headed back, I saw a sick pelican.

You have to walk these rocks regularly to do so quickly. I’m getting more of a feel for it, managing that fear of stumbling. What’s the worst that can happen? This beach has a five out of ten hazard rating. Did you know that since white settlement more than 36 tourists have died climbing Uluru?

I wonder how this walking, putting one foot in front of the other, can feel so challenging. I can open the microwave and know instinctively exactly how many seconds to key in to heat my food to the desired temperature, but here my instincts can be wrong.

There is no charge for parking.

Visited January 2015

 

"Very busy"2

Reviewed 7 January 2015

I don’t live locally but I climb the rocks as often as I can. It has become that popular that you’re best to go early a.m. or later p.m. as during the day it is so busy with visitors. Lots of people take kids but dogs are not allowed.

I have recently visited the Bunya Mountains where I also thought about the role climbing plays in Aboriginal life. The mountains hold the largest remaining forest of bunyas and the trees are marked with foot holes that have expanded as the trees have grown. Aboriginal people climbed trees across the country to hunt and to reach native beehives for honey. In the Bunyas men climbed for initiation and for retrieval of the cones containing the bunya nuts. Because of these nuts, the mountains were once the largest and most vital meeting place for Aboriginal groups in Queensland. Now there are thirty residents and a slackening of tourists.

The tourists come to this beach, where the coffee rock has been exposed by the coastal weathering process. The strong, hard rock is seen as a safeguard to protect the beach from further erosion, but it’s not so popular with some of the locals, nor for the organisers of the surf lifesaver events. This is old rock, made up of the indurated sands formed from ancient river sediments of the Pleistocene age.

The beach is very busy today, so I decide not to go for a swim after the walk.

Visited January 2015.

"Truly beautiful"3

Reviewed 8 January 2015

It's a bit of an exertion; at least it was for me, as I'm still not as new year-fit as I want to be. Though it is fully worth all the sweating. It is truly beautiful here.

The rocks here remind me of the mouth of the Brunswick River in Bundjalung country. My uncle talks about fishing there, watching the black-shouldered kite to know where to stand. I ask do fish get caught as he reels them up the rocks, just as my feet get caught when climbing. He tells me about the snapper that fought the rocks. My uncle, keeping the snapper on the line, climbed down carefully into the water and midwifed it in with the tide.

That is learning the rocks. Learning is not without exertion.

Visited January 2015

 

"Easy walk"4

Reviewed 9 January 2015

While people think of going for a “beach walk”, I think of a “beach climb”. Best to go early morning or late afternoon as it gets very hot at other times. The walk lasts for about 30 minutes if you are reasonably fit or 45 minutes if you don't do walks like this often. At 24 years old I can get back in 25 minutes but there are several places to stop and reflect on what you’re doing with your year if necessary.

Certainly if I am to talk about rocks and climbing I must talk about Uluru. When I visited last year I was surprised at how many people were still climbing when there was so much discouragement. In the cultural centre there is a display of letters from people who had climbed or taken part of the rock and regretted it. It is not an easy climb. But what is? Although most of the public know of the Anangu people’s wishes not to climb Uluru or Kata Tjuta, what about the other sacred sites in this country? Few know to respect the Bunjalung’s wishes on Wollumbin (Mount Warning). And how about the sites already destroyed?

Visited January 2015

 

"Be prepared for a long walk and there are helicopters"5

Reviewed 10 January 2015

I was frustrated but not surprised to find people had stuffed Coke cans and chip packets into the deep gaps of the rock foundation. Are these modern day middens?

Take a drink and camera. I did see a helicopter so do take care and wear earplugs to defend yourself if needed. If you have to wear shoes, wear joggers. Do not listen to me when I say I could live barefooted. I am often called Imelda. Do not listen to me when I say if I could only wear one pair of shoes for life they would be thongs. Joggers will have to do. Bring money to get cake at one of the coffee shops afterwards.

Visited January 2015

 

"Mildly disappointing"6

Reviewed 11 January 2015

Not what I was expecting. It was a hot and humid day and I was very excited to go swimming in the ocean after the walk. But they took the flags away. I was majorly disappointed. I have to go to work tomorrow. I don’t want to lose my footing on these rocks. I hope to be back soon, with someone else. I think these rocks can hold great conversations.

Visited January 2015



MORE FROM THE LONGER LIGHT SERIES:

The Longer Light Series explores the idea that our personal rituals – from the mundane to the grand – tether us to special places and particular times. It investigates how our rituals are contingent on the places where we perform them, on the rhythm of the seasons, on the weather of any given day, on what we see and smell around us.
The 12 distinct works of the series detail, document or respond to some sort of ritual (as each contributor interprets that word) enacted during a week of summer days and nights. The works will be published in weekly instalments so that, in concert, they plot the arc of an Australian summer.
The Longer Light Series is supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.