The Artist and the Donkey
Flowerpot Coastal Reserve Beach
Beneath the Lucas Point Sewage Plant there’s a bay and in that bay there’s a thin cobbled beach divided by boulders from another stretch of tide constricted beach. (Possibly Andrew Short’s beaches T469 & T470, but I could well be wrong.)
We’d started the day with brunch at MONA, Hobart’s incredible Museum of Old and New Art, way upriver and I only mention this because I’d spent an inordinately long time at the Marina Abramovic exhibition, engrossed in watching her meditatively regard a donkey and the donkey’s long considered response to her. The immaculate stillness of it all; the way the observer is absorbed into the dynamic of the interaction and how, in paying attention, new details about the donkey, or Marina, or even the pared down environment emerge into focus long after you think you’ve observed everything there is to see alerts you to the fact that perception is fickle and attention is a skill that needs honing.
It made me wonder how long I should spend regarding a beach and how you express gratitude to such a multi-diminsional part of this planet.
Later we packed a rucksack and headed down to the Tinderbox Peninsula. The off the leash exercise area behind the Lucas Point Sewage station was vibrant with canine energy but we detoured up Flowerpot Hill’s southern slope. A blue sky, and a light sea breeze …we reached the place I’d stopped before and paused to consider the various blossoms in flower along the edge of the cliff line.
I quizzed each local I met about beaches. I was particularly after information about a beach called Fisherman’s Haul but no one could enlighten me.
We snooped around the sewage plant and debated taking a tangled path then elected instead to descend to the shore via another steep path that followed the edge of the short deep gorge carved by the rivulet that inhabits this valley. There’s no sign to identify it but it reaches the Derwent via a cobbled beach and there, that day, it stopped behind the pebbles heaped up on the steeply sloping little beach that was being pounded by business minded waves. Occasionally we’d hear the sound of those cobbles making music as the waves retreated.
The tide was high and I had to calculate the time between waves in order to reach a spot at the northern end from where I could peer over boulders into the Lucas Point Sewage Plant’s beach (if indeed it really was a separate beach).
The tide had left only one small, dry patch at the southern end and so I didn’t think it was wise to gamble with the waves. There was graffiti on its cliffs and above that I could see the sewage plant. Both detracted from its original beauty, one of austere rock and wild water. I could see Soldiers Rocks and just this side of them a lone man fishing. It seemed somewhat too close to the sewage plant to be a palatable past time.
Meanwhile, the geo had brewed the tea given to us by a friend who’d departed in his yacht to sail home to NZ. We sat back and contemplated the beach and the little rivulet, the cliffs to our south and the kayaker who surfed one of the breaking waves before heading on north with no break to his momentum.
In that beautiful setting the tea tasted divine and lent a meditative quality to the attention I was lavishing on the shoreline. Then I performed a tea ceremony to honour the beach. A little liquid connection. A means of feeling my way towards how one says thank you to a beach for its existence.
Afterwards I walked the small bushland path beyond the dog exercise ground by myself, wondering where it would take me. Like a lot of my coastal explorations, I ended up walking a circle. What beach we’d found I did not know but I did find out it wasn’t Fishermans Haul – the map said no. So for want of knowing the local name, I’m calling it Flowerpot Coastal Reserve beach and if you’re idling in this area it’s worth seeking it out. Because it exists, and it’s hidden away, and it’s very Tinderbox.