Nostalgia is a multifaceted emotion, and a nostalgic impulse for a place that once was can be whimsically romanticized upon reminiscence.
Alternatively, a dwelling and destination can be so perfect, so pure, raw and undiluted – that it warrants every hyperbole in the dictionary. We all have our ‘special place’ – a café, park, city or home. Mine? It’s Bateau Bay Beach.
My relationship with Bateau began early. I am an innate Bateau Bay girl, it’s deeply ingrained and emitted in my conscious. I was born and raised in this suburban Central Coast bubble, and couldn’t be prouder or more adulated to call it home.
Before my mother went into labour with me – circa 1992 – she lethargically laid over the hot sand dunes of Bateau Bay Beach.
I learnt to surf, swim and sunbake here, and my childhood memories are punctuated with lengthy visits to our prodigal beach. My mother always said to me: it’s the best free playground you’ve got.
Like any Australian suburban girl, I attached myself to the local ‘gang’. Not to be mistaken with other hazardous groups of the same nature, the worst thing our gang participated in was taking a washed up and decidedly dead shark from the shores of Bateau, and running up and down the beach with it. It was a very ‘Lord of the Flies’ moment. Remember, this is before the advent of Facebook and social media (thank goodness) – we had to entertain ourselves in how we saw fit.
Bateau was our meeting place, hub and confidante. We lit fires on the beach, crab hunted under the glow of a full moon and perilously threw ourselves into its cavernous caerulean sea.
For 2 long years I have been parted from Bateau Bay. I have lived within the confines of a densely populated, mechanical urban city: London. It’s a city pulsating with life and excitement, but I miss the colour, clarity and vibrancy of home.
Recently, I made the pilgrimage back. I enrobed myself with the familiarities of home, family and friends. Everyone had changed, even my childhood bedroom with its hot pink walls and Marilyn Monroe paraphernalia had altered slightly. But, one thing had not wearied or reformed with the change in time: the beach.
The sand dunes were the still colour of corn flower, the deep azure sea continued to lap greedily against the shoreline and the rockpools still hid an array of aquatic life.
And as I capitulated myself into the oncoming surf, I was reminded once more: this place will always be deeply cemented inside of me. It’s so much more than a peripheral relationship, it’s the utter encapsulation of home.