MINERS BEACH (1200 wide X 900 high Acrylic). .Back to gallery

Miners beach is a trek from the beaten track, and that convenient isolation has made it popular with the local nudists. They find sheltered spots behind the many boulders strewn along the southern shore. Stripping to soak up a deep all over tan, they remain invisible unless you stumble over the top of them.

A sand spit dries out to the rocks that project seaward from the middle of the beach, but at the highest tides they are marooned as an islet, lashed by surf and splashed with spray.

It was on these rocks that a Vietnamese family holidaying from the city set themselves up for a day of fishing and picnicking; mum, dad, grandma, cousin and kids, with their rods, reels, hampers and beach chairs. It wasn’t until late in the day that the wind chilled so they, as the nudists, turned their thoughts to home. But looking shorewards the family saw their sand bridge was rapidly disappearing with a rising tide. Worse still, beyond, the boulders of that idyllic beach were morphing into naked dark people, waving and shouting at them. They might still have forded the gulf but the indecision of clinging to rock or facing the angry natives delayed their action until the escape route was a maelstrom of white water. Despite the family’s fears, the nudists were their salvation as they raised the alarm and the Sea Rescue Boat was called out.

We arrived at dusk. The wind and swell had risen and occasional waves were breaking right over the top of the islet. At first we could not see them, as to gain some shelter they had huddled in a cleft on the landward edge. The scene was every bit from the wrecked mariner. They were drenched and wailing, but due to the pounding swell and scattering of off lying pinnacles (bommies) we could not get the boat close in to their location. Despite our entreaties to climb out to the seaward nose of the islet they clung on as tight as the limpets that around them.

With the real fear of the bommies taking out our propellers or punching a hole in the bottom of the boat we streamed an anchor out to seaward and, by cautiously paying out the line, reversed into the gap between rocky islet and the sand. As each roller creamed in, the line was held fast to keep the bow into the swell. The props coming clear of the water roared as the boat lunged over the top of the crest followed by a dash of spray as the boat plunged into the trough behind. The crew shouted as bommies surfaced in the eddies and they pulled the boat up on the anchor as Skipper Tony thrust it sideways from the danger.

In this way we threaded the swath of jagged teeth and come right up to the lee that the family was so attached to. Now as each swell approached Skipper Tony manoeuvred the stern into touching distance of the islet, and as the troughs followed, thrust it away into deeper water.

The kids were thrown in as a swell passed. Cousin was eager to follow and jumped too soon, but with the momentum of determination he survived his walk on water to claw himself aboard. On the next swell, Mum was heaved aboard and was caught by the crew as neatly as a leaf in the wind. But Dad could not get Grandma to budge. Each time he clawed her fingers free she would grab on to another crevice. It was getting rougher and we were chancing our luck in this exposed position. The stern glanced across one of the rocks, without doing damage, but provoking shouts and tears to get a move on. This encouragement did the trick as Dad finally yanked Grandma’s grip free. The onlooker’s hearts were in their mouths as the two of them recoiled to tumble down the face of the slippery rocks. Disaster seemed inevitable, but just then a wave broke right over the top of the islet. As they teetered on the edge it plucked them off and hurled them head over heels into the boat. In the stern sheets the sodden family were reunited with much hugging and crying and laughing.

It was with great relief that we dragged and buffeted ourselves seaward into clear water, homeward bound, with some souls bruised but all aboard.