Most of my life I’ve lived in the one spot. When you get old enough to see your own children growing up in the same place – but in a very different time – it changes your relationship with where you live. You see your past through your present eyes. Through your father’s eyes too. You begin to feel etched by the place. Whether in a good or bad way, I can’t generalise. In my case, it is good.

In all my years I’ve never had  any bad run-ins with the sea. As a kid I got close to dolphins in the water. I saw a huge leatherback turtle washed up on the rocks. I’ve seen a cyclone eat away the beaches. I’ve seen the beaches turn slick black with the detritus of an algal bloom.

But I have never had any strife with  the wildlife.

Even so, I’ve never been comfortable in the sea. Thoughts of sharks and box jellyfish are usually in the back of my mind when I am in the salt water. There are things in there that can kill you.

Today my son had the close encounter that I never did. He was with friends, and they brought him back early from an outing because he was not well and had developed a pain i his lower back.

It didn’t seem like anything much, but soon after he was home it got worse. It got very bad.

Do you want to go and see a doctor? Do anything to get me away from this pain.

Only driving to the hospital did he mention the weak little jellyfish sting. I could see the welt that had appeared on his leg. Irukandji, I thought. I was already speeding. I drove faster.

Sure enough, it was Irukandji syndrome. They gave him pain relief, monitored him, and his heart rate and blood pressure came back to normal. All is well.

The picture above is not my son, and there isn’t any irukandji street art in Yeppoon. It’s a composite image. I don’t know who the man in the water was, but he was swimming in the pulse of the king tide, as I once did.

If you grow up on the coast, in a place where the king tides are so dramatic, then they are one of the things that stay etched on you. The sensation of the big swell, the spectacle of the water swallowing up the beach, the  smell of the freshwater runs from the heavy rain. It all floods back in an instant.

This is something my father gave me. It is not something I have passed on, with my fear of the sea. But my partner, whose own childhood memories of the sea are of small tides, blue ringed octopus, freezing water, seals and penguins has always marked the king tides for our kids. So thanks to her, it is something we will share.

Here’s my small collection of king tide 2012 photos  – Instagram, iPhone, 15 minutes. Maybe next year they won’t fall on weekdays and I can do them more justice.

King 1

King 2

King 3

King 4


About postdigitalblog

Lecturer in Multimedia at CQUni Wrangler of young kids @ home in Yeppoon Otherwise, photographer and digital media type.
This entry was posted in photography, Yeppoon and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Irukandji

  1. gvicent says:

    I was thinking along these lines a couple of weeks ago. I saw a couple of kids skating down my street. I have done it, afternoon after afternoon, skating and riding. my mother was fearless (?). probably more trustworthy. i dont let them. the traffic has changed. everybody speeds (some because they have kids with jelly fish stings, others because they think it is fine). I can not risk putting my child on a street so unsafe. but they will not have the feeling of freedom i had. During holidays, i used to leave the house early in the morning and hook up with other kids and their bikes, and we used to ride. up and down, or around the block. There was an abandoned house around the corner. Like an italian villa, that was falling apart. we used to go inside, and investigate. i was 10? and i knew mum and dad said no to trespassing, but i dont think they did it because they thought there might be someone inside, i think they they said no because it was a private property.
    i would like things different but they are not. and i did not grow up here, so for me, a walk in the bush is a big massive effort of fear control (all the snakes are waiting for me). stinger suits will be in my shopping list.

  2. ceciliag says:

    I grew up by the sea and like you have always had great respect for its dangers, massive shots.. c

  3. Beautiful writing, surreal photography. A few years ago some kids from my town were on a coastal retreat. They were walking on a rocky outcropping, and the sea reached up and swept them away. Everyone was in shock.
    I think the sea is so fascinating and scary to us because it’s divinely powerful like that. If it decides to take you, you’ll be gone. Of course we could be killed by something at any given moment in this age of speeding hunks of metal, but there’s something about the crushing infinity of the ocean that forces us to really meditate on it.

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