The Last Outpost

by Chris Ellis

Beach-bumming on Bondi

ONE of the excitements, and sadnesses, of living in Pietermaritzburg is that many of our children have emigrated to all corners of the world. I see patients every week, who are off to the U.S., Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand to visit their children. I have just been on one of these excursions myself to visit a son who lives at the exotic Bondi Beach in Australia.

Bondi somehow has a touch of the Mediterranean about it and everyone hangs out there in a topless sort of way. It has a sixties drifters feel to it. The beach itself has fine white sand, peppered with a generous supply of breasts pointing towards the sky.

'If you were an extraterrestrial and first landed at Bondi you might wonder what sort of things they were trying to grow on earth.

To get to the sea I had to tread carefully between these antennae, while nonchalantly concentrating on some of the other fine points of life in the far distance.

All is not over once you have reached the sea. I was standing waist-deep in the waves when out of the crest of a wave came that most terrifying of creatures, the Great White Australian Mammary Glands. Being of British stock, I assumed that you had, like meeting a tiger in the jungle, to stand your ground and look them straight in the eyes. Showing fear or making a run for it might lead, especially if they were coming down from on top of a dumper, to instant mummification. I somehow felt I needed a matador's cape to flourish as they swept magnificently by on their way to impalement on the sand.

To recover from the terrors of the deep I was taken, for resuscitation, to the first floor of Ravesi's restaurant, overlooking the beachfront. Now I don't know if you know this but Australians have a thing they do called drinking. You might have heard of it.

The password in New South Wales is "no worries, mate, I'll have a VB" which stands for Victoria Bitter. Home in Australia is where the beer fridge is and apparently there is one in every three Australian homes.

Apart from VBs, they make a cocktail, which has amazing powers of transference, called a Blue Lagoon. It is made up of gin, curacao and lemonade, and has a translucent, aquamarine colour to it.

My psychiatrist tells me you only need three to reach another plane of consciousness. By common consent, if you wake up the next morning with a tattoo, you have had too many.

Blue Lagoons also appear to induce what in medicine is known as a disinhibition syndrome. It allows one to discuss some of the great philosophical debates of the century.

We ended up in an absorbing discussion on the difference definitions of a nerd, a geek, a wally and what the Australians call a yuppie loser.

Opinions are accompanied by extravagant gestures and participants assume that everything said is masterfully eloquent. It is better if the whole table has Blue Lagoons as there is therefore no need for further sensible conversation by anyone. Abstainers might miss out on the exquisite nuances and subtleties of the dialogue.

Ravesi's restaurant is well known, as are many Sydney eating places, for its seafood and, following the BEs, we had Blue-Eyed Cod with broccoli dressed with Pesto alla Genovese and a variety of nut oils and basil. This was eased down with another Great Australian White, Coonawarra Sauvignon Blanc.

Looking out over the sun-drenched beach I thought that nothing could possibly disturb this idyllic view yet there is an interesting new phenomenon called Wave Rage, obviously coined after the phenomenon of road rage.

The condition arises when there are too many surfers hanging out on the back line and they are all competing to get on a good wave.

Assaults have been reported between surfers, who poach on what is perceived to be the other surfer's territory.

How one indulges in a bout of fisticuffs while standing on a surfboard is somewhat hard to imagine.

I should think with the first swing of the fist, one would land overboard. Presumably they wait until they have reached the shore and then swat each other with their surfboards.

I never saw anything but sunshine and harmony. The main dangers, it appears, for tourists in Australia are the Great Australian Whites and the Blue Lagoons.

Copyright © 2005 - 2018 Chris Ellis.