What he said inspired me to do some beachcombing of my own with unexpected results.
We were perched on the beach for a few days because everyone reckoned we should go to Dundee Beach. Dundee has a sort of hallowed status around Darwin so we gave Isabel a run over the loose sand and parked upright on the beach by a little creek that looked fine for fishing.
Bird appeared to be wearing black socks but he was just tattooed to his knees. He told Tony he took a walk along the beach on the making tides because that was when the rubbish came in – the plastic tides he called them. Sometimes he picked up a lure as well.
He was pretty protective of his beach. A while back some young blokes lobbed on to the beach, set up a bonfire and proceeded to have a good time. That included smashing the empties into the fire.
Bird sauntered up and said politely he hoped they would be taking their rubbish with him. They politely told him to fuck off. Next morning he gathered all the rubbish and broken glass, tracked their quad bike treads back to where he was pretty sure they lived and left the trash in their driveway.
Dundee Beach has 27,236 quad bikes, or somewhere near that. Everyone gets around on some form of quads or beach buggy, either luxury boy toys or modified jalopies.
And everyone at some stage ends up at The Lodge, a kid-friendly open bar, restaurant, store and caravan park with air-conditioned, windowless donga unit for hire. Half a dozen sturdy old tractors take boats and trailers out into the water because most of the time the end of the ramp and the start of the water has a fair bit of sand in between. Boggy stuff.
Dundee Beach is all about fishing but the pickings were a bit slim when we were there. It was the worst time of the year and, of course, as they locals kept telling us there had been no f&ck!?g wet mate. I did achieve the admirable status of getting "f&ck!?g smashed mate" when my reel broke but it was probably a shark on the end of the line and Tony suggested politely it was also something to do with my awkward style of reeling.
Bird was a bit worried about Isabel being too heavy for the sand. Tony assured him she was designed for it. He was worried the making tides might make it to Isabel. Tony assured him we had checked the heights and should be right. He said a 3m crocodile lived in the creek. Tony said he would watch out for it.
Bird didn’t turn up the next morning so I decided to check the plastic tide in my morning walk. “Keep your eye out for a lure,” instructed Tony, handing me a seaweed-poking stick.
I picked one up a few hundred metres down the beach, along with a tube of sunscreen. In a little cove near rocks I spotted a bright pink stubby cooler. With delight it proved to be in mint condition. So was the full can of Tooheys New inside it.
Bird never mentioned a haul like that. The can went into the fridge and tasted perfect as we watched the sun sink below the Timor Sea. Somewhere someone is probably still wondering what happened to the Darwin Rocksitting World Championships cooler and can that bounced off his/her quad bike.