20 April 2002
We spent most of today swimming at Broken Head, south of Byron Bay, where Clare and I witnessed a small drama unfold on the beach.
A Japanese surfer was pulled from the water unconscious. Some surfers tried to resuscitate him, but the poor guy had drowned. When his chest was compressed, little spouts of water shot out of his mouth. His lungs were clearly full of water. Paramedics arrived, and continued the resuscitation efforts, and at length a helicopter arrived on the beach and airlifted the unconscious man. His sister – or perhaps it was his girlfriend – looked on, distraught.
An hour after the event, you’d never know anything had happened. It’s strange how our worst personal tragedies unfold, just like in Brueghel’s painting depicting the fall of Icarus: the world goes on, barely noticing.
We went to see the lighthouse at Cape Byron, which is very beautiful and perched high on a ragged headland. We wound our way down a steep path, past long-horned mountain goats that smelt strongly of feta cheese and damp fur.
We went shopping in Byron Bay. It was chintzy and fashionable—Kuta Beach meets Double Bay. There were lots of hippies in uniform and beautiful people on parade. The beaches were great though, and the surf was fabulous. It must have been lovely before it became a tourist Mecca. Mind you, it’s nice to be able to buy tortillas and decent coffee.
Clare put herself to bed at 7.30 p.m. It’s not yet 9.30 p.m. and Susan is in bed. I’m about to do the same. It is very tiring this travelling lifestyle.