Kevin Ballantine's Gallery
for a father who couldn't swim
Blue sky stretches overhead forever before fading near the hard-edged horizon. The ocean is glassy, crisp, turquoise, emerald, ultramarine blue and the bleached sand soft and white. Perth’s suburban beaches are beautiful. Yet when I was a boy, I would spend summer swimming in the river at Como, with its grey green water, sticky bottom, armadas of flagellating jellyfish, and barnacles that sliced silently through the clambering arms and legs of Como’s crowded jetty. The beach was too far while Como was just a bike ride away. But then my brother got his driver’s license. And on hot Sunday afternoons, after a lunch of corned beef, mashed potato, canned beetroot and lettuce, we would steer for the roller coaster thrills of City Beach. Over the Narrows Bridge and down Hay Street; City Beach was the most direct route from home and the waves were most times powerful. We would swim out to the sand bar and stand and wait for a wave, then thrash our arms about and bodysurf into the shore or get "dumped". If a wave was too big, we would dive underneath and hold our breath. As well as Sunday afternoons, hot week nights could also find us at City Beach. Driving home after dark, with towels on the seats, the car windows down and the radio on was wonderful.