Like so many others that have come to inhabit the seaside towns of Callala Beach and Myola, I was drawn to the beautiful balance between nature and community. A long stretch of beach with a vista across Jervis Bay. Large sections of beach fringed by bushland. Natural corridors for animals. For those who dwell or frequent this place, a sense of needing to nurture the environment becomes inherent. And this, in turn, generates a sentiment of harmony.
Let me take you for a stroll through Myola, the bush and finally onto Callala Beach.
Walking along the northern end of Catherine Street, Myola, an understory of burrawangs line Currambene Creek. Their spiked form may be why they are one of the oldest living plants on Earth, dating back to the age of the dinosaurs. They are survivors. Long rooted systems search for water and fire makes them multiply. Their wisdom holds the banks of the creek in place, while creating an avenue of antiquity along Catherine Street, up the dirt track, and all the way beyond the boat ramp.
Turning away from the creek, the burrawangs thin out and the eucalypts dominate. Rough bark, broad trunks. Others are mottled, smooth and straight, reaching for light. A grove of thin saplings among larger satiny hues of greys and greens imply a history of felling. Nobby apple gums with blackened bark expose an age of fires. Strips dangle like ribbons. Elsewhere, bark flakes like crazed paint. Each of these gums has its own timeline, while continuing to add its annual layer of protection. Stories are housed in amongst those branches. Animals and birds have depended upon them. The branches that once brushed against an arm, across a face, now tower above.
The bush thickens and the sky becomes less visible. Dappled sunlight filters the track. The voices change. High above gusts shiver through the leaves like a quivering tambourine. The calls of hidden birds create the higher notes. The distant drumming of waves, the percussion. The rich smell of moist humus. An amorphous matter that feeds the forest.
Meandering on, heading towards the beach, the path changes to sand underfoot. The endangered Bangalay Sand Forests. Once so many. Now so few. The old man banksias bend in various gnarled and misshapen forms. Serrated silver leaves and woolly seed pods adorn their branches. Little mouths like a hungry clutch of chicks gape at those who pass by. A glossy seedling amongst blades of grasses, a hopeful sign of regeneration. And now as the last undulation is encountered, twisted trunks of tea tree hold the dunes in place.
An opening… You have arrived. Point Perpendicular and Bowen Island ahead. Salt spray carried on a southerly. Where ever you look- sand, bush, sea. Ponder the simple beauty of it all.
Feel the connection.
Breathe it in.