Coolan­gatta gold shines on a fi­bro flat

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - WRY SIDE - MIKE O’CON­NOR

There was a couch in the front room of the fi­bro beach flat and my fa­ther would doze on it in the af­ter­noon, a seabreeze play­ing with the cur­tains as he slept. It was at Coolan­gatta on the Gold Coast and we stayed there once for two weeks. It would have been the late ’50s and in De­cem­ber, be­cause the fam­ily al­ways hol­i­dayed in De­cem­ber. I haven’t stayed there since but we went back last week­end.

“The flats were there, on the cor­ner,” I said to my wife, point­ing to where an apart­ment tower now soared. “There was a bak­ery near here and I’d be sent to buy a fresh loaf of bread from the back door ev­ery morn­ing.”

We’d swim at Green­mount and a siren would sound when the life­savers spot­ted a shark. Some­times they would catch one, haul it up onto the beach, erect a hes­sian fence around it and charge two shillings to see it.

I re­called play­ing in the shal­lows with lumps of drift­wood that, in my mind, were battleships, and watch­ing Mum be­ing dumped in the surf and my fa­ther’s comb- over hang­ing over one ear like a plait.

“Let’s walk,” I said to my wife and we climbed Green­mount Hill and looked to the tow­ers of Surfers Par­adise, all but lost in a dis­tant sea mist. We walked around to Snap­per Rocks where a man called Jack Evans once showed per­form­ing por­poises. I or­dered drinks at the Green­mount Surf Club and we looked across the wide, white sand beach and be­yond to a gath­er­ing storm.

We sat in si­lence and as we did, I could taste the lump of oven-warm bread that I’d gouged from the end of the loaf and guiltily savoured on a fine De­cem­ber morn­ing all those years ago.

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