I’m sitting on the sand beneath Normanville jetty, looking out to the ocean. The jetty’s century-old character comes into relief: supporting posts weathered by the elements, rusted bolts, horizontal beams which have been periodically carved or illustrated with pocket knives and pens – inscribing initials, romantic allusions and indecipherable text. During the peak of summer, tar will occasionally ooze from the beams and emit a pungent, though strangely satisfying smell combined with the salty air and heat.
I’m facing south looking down the western coastline of the the Fleurieu Peninsula. The visual quality of the peninsula’s coastline is striking – Normanville beach with its ancient sand dunes stretching elegantly into the distance, eventually joining a succession of sheer cliffs and bluffs; concealing secluded beaches, reefs and caves.
I begin to wonder what the future will hold for parts of the coastline.
Normanville Beach will be transformed, the jetty eventually submerged; and what of the ancient sand dunes that overlook the beach and extend down the coastline?
What of the beach houses and shacks that are nestled behind just a thin strip of native vegetation looking out onto Lady Bay? The shallow dunes will have given way to rising tides, the parcels of vegetation and large clearings transformed into a network of lagoons. The beach houses and shacks rendered no longer habitable – their prefabricated ruins having gradually washed away into the ocean.
Terrestrial caves that were explored as a child are most likely transformed into underwater caves.
What of the marina at Wirrina Cove holiday resort? Submerged breakwaters, pontoons torn from their moorings and capsized vessels clustered together?
The secluded beach coves of Second Valley once covered with large pebbles and rock outcrops. Now all immersed in water; the ocean risen and making its way to meet the cliff tops that overlook this part of the coastline.
Then, nearing toward the headland of the peninsula is Rapid Bay. The once long stretch of beach is now submerged marked only by two impressive landmarks that still remain above water; at the southern end: a quarry that was dug into the side of a steep hill in the 1940’s. Its airborne dust of floating limestone particles that settle into the seabed, turning the water an attractive turquoise blue. Then, at the northern end of the bay: just above the water’s surface a slight opening of what used to be an open air cave, now colonised by ocean life.
Then, above Rapid Bay is Starfish Hill and an installation of wind turbines; one of many wind farms that have been installed across South Australia over the past fifteen years. The wind turbines on Starfish Hill will most likely survive a significant rise in sea levels, but who knows what other environmental cataclysms await us in the near future? In a way their presence is a comfort, they are a symbol that reminds me that we can make difference and turn things around.
TLR, November 2014.