It was the 70’s. A time when home-knitted jumpers were fashionable, house blocks were still big enough to play backyard cricket in, puppies came from your friends dog and not a shop, I still had all my grandparents but did not yet have a second brother and the Skyhook’s song, Everybody’s Wearing Blue Jean’s, was my babysitters anthem.
My family and I were living in Steaky Bay, a small coastal fishing town on the west coast of South Australia. I have fond memories of this town as it gave me many of the the finer firsts in my life.
It was here I discovered my love of finger painting at kindergarten.
It was here I started school for the first time. It was here I skipped school during the first week as I didn’t realise that you had to go every day. That just seemed crazy when the beach was right across the road…
It was here I learnt to swim in the ocean and not a pool.
It was here I ate crayfish drowned in fresh water and cooked on the beach.
It was here I camped in a caravan and burnt my feet on the hot embers of the previous nights campfire.
It was here that I met pelicans for the first time.
These beautiful birds were bigger than 5 year old me but I don’t recall being scared. I loved to throw leftover fish to them or watch them gather around the jetty as the tuna boats rolled in with their catch.
There was one pelican I recall that stood out. He only had half a foot. We dubbed him Arfa – the grown ups thought we meant Arthur but we didn’t – he had ‘arf a foot’ after all. Arfa was a local favourite of kids and adults alike. I think he got sympathy food due to his mild disability and was often seen cruising the shoreline between the caravan park and jetty. An true opportunist.
I suppose Arfa’s long gone now – as are all my grandparents, that cute little dog named Butch in the photo, home-knitted jumpers, big backyards and the Skyhooks. I do have a second brother now though and that’s a good thing.