Thursday, April 24, 2008


I could stumble around Albany for weeks, and still have absolutely no idea of what's going on. Sure, i can find a pub, a laundromat and a cheap eatery - but what about the cultural life? What about the tales of its people, its places - those small swatches of social fabric that help define this southern seafaring outpost? What is a four-dollar wonton soup compared with history?

As your self-proclaimed guide to the Rainbow Coast it is my mission to fathom the soul of the Great Southern, plunder its riches, delineate its characters, and bring all its Dostoevskian drama directly to you in concise and regular instalments of 200 words or less. With pictures.

And as your self-proclaimed guide i shall interweave with my own careworn tales some occasional plush threads torn from this rich Albanian tapestry.

I am fortunate to have someone here to show me the ropes. Sarah is one of The Toa Sisters, one of these seven wild women of the southern coast, who, apart from creating the faux fur lap-laps, stone jewellery, tie-dyed slips and other varied and interesting objets d'hippy, Sarah and The Toa Sisters may also, variously, camp for months out on secluded beaches, restore wooden sailing vessels, document ancient and abandoned lighthouses, travel, study, sing, play guitar, and even work in public libraries. These seven naiads live and love, dance and sing down here where the granite meets the sea.

And, oh joy of joys, write.

This place is not civilised yet

It's a beautiful thing, to see a green wave rise up and reveal salmon in its window. There's a boardwalk, toilets, interpretive plaques - but this place is not civilised yet. On a still night, I can hear the swell from my bed, roaring, a pestle grinding rocks into sand.
The names of the prisoners who built the original stairway are visible on a low tide, carved into the limestone tablets. Water boils in sucky holes and the rips stretch a turquoise scar right out to sea.
"Where's the pirate treasure, the skeletons of drowned sailors?" My friend skips across a tiny beach. We share a mutual goosey moment when we find the white cross poking out of the wild rosemary. Nearby
crouches the decomposing four-wheel-drive that landed there in 1994. Both of us stand in the sand and stare up the dizzying cliff.
Trembling, hundreds of stairs later, I can still see the shoal of salmon. The white lace of a broken wave regularly obscures the black
drifting disc.
A dark shape moves in from the deep. The salmon circle into a solid grain, trying to become impenetrable. They fail.
The Noah breaks up the outer rim and wiggles lazily into the centre like a triumphant spermatazoa in that vital moment. The salmon fold away from the darkness, creating a lime green channel in its wake.

- Sarah Toa

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