Cactus – Day 7 – by Rob Ward

In a reflective mood

This is a toilet – 2 trunkated telegraph poles support the roof structure, they and all the interior fitting are secured to a concrete floor and the cement and sandstone boulders lead in a spiral to a well ventilated flushing loo. Ron says the (?8) loos with their running water, piped from 2 tanks filled with bore water on top of the hill behind Cactus (the wave… about 500M away) along with sullage trenches and septic tanks cost $120,000.

Either the fotographer’s legs are long or the sun has just risen

Looking over Castles sharp little cliff (which I descend several times a day for a bucket of sea water to cook and wash up with) toward the cliff that shelters Cactus (the wave from the prevailing Southeaster.

Caves at 3′. This morning it was a hefty 6 foot and I took my 7′ quad out and just wailed. Had a big open barrel on the inside. The wind is dying now (12:30) and will probably let in the sea breeze

I got down on to me knees and grovelled for this one of pretty sea shells at sunrise. I know it just looks like gravel but trust me, it’s pretty sea shells.

ditto without the seashells

It’s hard to credit just 3 days have slipped by since I last made an entry in the Desert Diary. i have just waved goodbye to Laurent, (Fr) Lydia (Catalan) Robin (Fr) and a girl from Belgium. We baked potatoes over a BBQ last night. They steeled themselves for a surf at Cactus and survived the Great Whites and thundering swell. Hyperbole I’m afraid. The Great Whites seem to kill during the whale season (September). And the wave at Cactus is normally benign. I demonstrated a rare moment of camping competence last night. Laurent had an inflatable mattress for himself and possible the girls but had purchased, in error, an electric pump that required AC. We had been talking in French but when he came to explain his difficulty in English I really couldn’t understand him. When I did, finally, understand the story we plugged him in to my Inverter and he was inflated in 2 minutes much to the girls’ delight. Lydia was big and handsome and as dark as an Arab. The inflatable mattress would have been pushed to its limits I’d have to say.

Earlier in this last period I spent an evening drinking wine with a South African fellow (Mark) and his English partner Margie. We were joined by 2 lads, Matt and Ben, playing their guitars around the country. They were heading East from Albany in WA. The boys played sweet guitar and it was a pleasant evening. But for some reason there was a hatch of flying Bull Ants. They are unobtrusive I have found (if big…25mm) but the flying ones landed in Margie’s lap and had her jumping around. Then we turned our attention to the ground where, attracted by the lights under the awning of M & M’s caravan 3 scorpions were wandering about. When we camped here in the early days (1970’s) they would often run straight into a camp fire. As I had bare feet and no torch with me I should have worried more but didn’t. In the morning a very feisty scorpion was revealed when M & B rolled up their tent.It behaved a little like an angry blind man waving its pincers in all directions and holding its tail and sting erect. When nothing untoward happened it lowered its tail and pincers and – long and low – scuttled into the salt bush and shelter. Mark and Margie had been friendly with a friend of mine in their time in Albany, Gary Kontoulas. Tom had said a couple of years back Gary had a bad heart. He had been a knee-board rider at Margaret River and was pretty fearless. Mark reported he had died 6 weeks ago. I guess he was two or three years younger than me. Life had become hard for him, struggling to walk up inclines and I was sad.

When the wind gets up in the afternoon and the waves are less good for surfers, windsurfers and kiteboards give it a go. Yesterday there were 5 windsurfers and 4 kiteboarders rushing from one end of the beach to the other – about 750M. The kiteboarders have very sophisticated self-inflating kites which form a near perfect horseshoe-shaped aerofoil and they somehow can spin it in a 360 depending on where they are during a tack or jibe. The speed they get to must be about 20-30 knots and the boards are very short – about 5′ I’d guess. The wave at Castles is generally rubbish for a short board but get on a big mal, a goat-boat or a Stand Up Paddle board and these guys have a lot of options. In the past I would have been intolerant of these highly buoyant over-achievers in the paddling sphere but here they make very good use of what we (“proper surfers!!) can not.

Lying in the ute, the sounds are reminiscent of those of a small boat at anchor. The awning flaps in the wind and the strings and occy straps make pulling and adjusting noises. When the wind drops the swell can be heard murmuring, or rumbling in the background. This morning, my billy took a long while to boil and I got a bit irritated at the waste of gas. Then I sussed the “problem”. The wind was easing round to NE: Caves! Tea, an orange, a quick stretch and I jogged the 1/2k there. Did some push ups to engage the core and paddled out feeling elated and sort of humble. It’s the feelng you get when there is a bit of consequence to the waves. My back had responded to the yoga and work of the last few days and I felt good. Fellows were pulling back from the bigger waves and when I took a couple of the larger ones, I went inside to leave the line-up to settle down. It is saturday and there should be a ‘crowd’. We were about 7. The wind came up after a couple hours and I went in after a big one that threw a wide-open barrel after the second turn. I went right inside and I think I can say it was the cleanest barrel I have ridden here, ever. I’m riding a board 6 inches shorter than I was when i was 27. (Actually I have been riding one 15″ shorter but not today) I took the 7′ gunny one out today and I was afraid the wave would not be hard enough for it. But it was perfect, skittering along the wind-corrugated bottom of the wave on the narrow tail, twin concaves and 4 fins.

I had Chris Smithers song about “Diamond Joe” going in my head. The following verse:

He’s a rattlesnake preacher
Roaming through the land
If you ain’t got the Grace of God
He’ll strike you where you stand.

And on that Bombshell,

Luv,
Moi

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