“We’re going to Bonnydoon! We’re going to Bonnydoon! We’re going to Bonnydoon!” That was our driving song a few weekends ago, sung mostly and extremely enthusiastically by Will.
But we weren’t going to Bonnydoon (where even is Bonnydoon?). We were going to Robe. I had never been to Robe before, although the idea of a visit has always been tantalisingly possible because Will’s grandparents own a beach house on some million-dollar property there. The beach house isn’t million-dollar though, it is charming and small and blue and white. It has a bunk room and it is a literal stone’s throw from the soft white sand and stupidly blue water of Guichen Bay. Being there, I could almost remember the freedom of endless childhood summers spent running amok with a brood of freckly nosed, salty skinned kids. Of ice-cream and fish and chips and of staying up way past your bed time because you were hiding on the sand.
But I grew up in Tasmania. On deserted beaches with spectacular views and only my mum, dad and sister. And our dog. Hiking through the scrubby bushland on our property with my neighbours and a bag of chips for sustenance. Slipping, sliding, rolling down snowy hills on sheets of plastic with mum or dad. Tramping through rainforests, in awe of the enormity and age.
The salty, freckly, sunburnt memories of an endless Robe summer are not mine, but last weekend Will welcomed me into his. We followed the well-explored paths of his youth… swimming out to the ‘reef’ (a bank of slimy, swaying kelp) in the bay just in front of the shack in water so cold it made our ears ache, wandering over the clifftops, past the famous obelisk of Robe (I nicknamed it ‘obbsy’), canoeing out to the point and stopping there, in the clam waters of the bay, although Will wanted to keep going into the ocean actual because ‘look! look, I saw a seal!’ (He didn’t). Puffing our way to the top of a sand-dune for an incredible view of the Southern Ocean and an exhilirating run-glide-leap back down.
As we wandered around that summer-time town, past the memorials of brave and unlucky sea-farers, insanely picturesque beaches and holidaying families relaxing into their fish and chips and ice-creams I revelled in having nothing more to do than feed us, wander and read. And, of course, go canoeing. Will revelled in the nostalgia of being back at his childhood shack, drawing me in with stories of the Polperro (the name of the shack) of old, the care-free youth and the slightly more ‘salty’ post youth years spent at the beach.
It took nearly four years of dating before I managed to get the 3 hours down the road to visit Robe, and the drive home may have (did) involve a scary car breakdown, a couple of hours sitting on the side of a highway and a subsequent nine-hundred dollar mechanics bill, but it was totes worth it. And I even have the special title of being one of the only people to have seen real Polperro (a little holiday town in Cornwall that the shack is named for) before Robe Polperro.
P.S. Unfortunately we are not billionaires so we couldn’t dine on fresh crayfish while we were there but on the way home we stopped at a servo whose sign announced ‘fresh crayfish sandwiches’. Will went in to pick one up and came out five minutes later with a juice and a Calippo. He rightfully decided $17 was far too much to pay for food poisoning.