Written by David Everett
Back in 2008 we left the beautiful outback town of Blackall, a place we happily called home for too few years to move to Hervey Bay.
Sight unseen, and with no friends or family, but ticked the boxes, we both arbitrarily and deliberately decided upon the move. Now I say “sight unseen” but that is not technically true.
It’s not hiding a painful truth, a story with dragons (the best kind of story) or holding secrets entrusted to us upon threat of punishment. As alluded to, we both had our own experiences of Hervey Bay before we made the decision to move here.
For my wife, her experience of Hervey Bay was as a patient on a night time RFDS flight from Blackall to Brisbane, with a detour to pick up an urgent transfer from Hervey Bay. Needless to say, briefly sitting up to see a few streetlights below without any form of context doesn’t add anything to the experience.
My story is a bit more involved in experiencing of Hervey Bay, without it actually adding to worth. The sum total of my memories of Hervey Bay are Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea and snorkelling over mudflats. A bit of context would probably help out here. Back in my younger years, say the later years of primary school circa 1986, I got to go on a couple of camps organised by a Christian youth organisation who’s name completely alludes me and doesn’t have any bearing on the story anyway.
Anyway, this particular camp was at Hervey Bay, a place I had not been to before and had not returned to until we moved here as a married couple with 2.5 kids.
Despite my young age, I enjoyed a morning coffee and on this particular camp the only coffee they had was Pablo, a brand I avoided as it made for truly awful coffee.
With a bit of free time I popped to a nearby store and learnt how much a jar of instant coffee cost. So I chose the tea instead. Why Ceylon Orange Pekoe Tea? Because I thought it seemed very cosmopolitan and by turn, would be impressive to others, a need I have happily matured out of.
Snorkelling over mudflats was the result of neither a taste for the ‘finer’ things in life or an immature ego. I love being in the water. Not as in a shower though I do enjoy them, or a bath which has a tendency to rapidly result in boredom regardless of the presence of wine and book. It’s being moving through water that I love and so when we were presented with a choice of activities, one of which included snorkelling, I immediately put my name down for that. No one else did, perhaps they all knew that there wasn’t anything to see off the beach where we were or maybe they just weren’t interested. I can’t remember any of the alternatives or whether I was supervised or not, I just remember snorkelling by myself and looking for something to break the monotony of what I now recognise as a layer of silt over flat uninterrupted sand at possibly mid-tide. I was bored, but I think I still managed to enjoy it, or at least up until the moment I realised there was not going to be anything different anywhere below me not matter how far I ranged.
Almost no matter the mood I’m in, if I get into water and go below the surface I’ll soon find my mood stabilised. Agitated – I’m soon calm, feeling down – I’m soon somewhat lifted, happy; well I continue that way. Oddly though it’s not so effective in a pool! There I like to just sink and sit on the bottom.
t’s being in fresh water or in the saltiness of the ocean that I get the most stability in. It’s not healing, it’s not returning to the womb, mother nature’s embrace or any such thing, it’s just a place that I feel comfortable in, much like Sheldon on Leonard’s couch. The odd part of this is that I don’t like silence and I’m not comfortable in silence. If I’m not focused intently on something I need some music, background TV or a podcast playing to feel comfortable in my head. Under the water though I don’t need that distraction or occupation of thoughts, I can just swim, float, move with the current. I really like that.