Saturday, 26 July 2014

To See The World In A Grain Of Sand

For a girl who grew up on the beach I have an unusually deep dislike of sand. In fact my skin is crawling just thinking about it as I write this entry.

Tugun beach, September 2013
When I was little we would go to the beach in the morning then come home in the afternoon sunburned to hell and back with great lumps of sand inside our cozzies (swimming costumes) and still be brushing it off ourselves days later. Terrible stuff.

Coconut Beach, far north Queensland, April 2009
You could take a half-hour shower and still feel grains in your hair and in your bedsheets the next morning.

Coconut Beach, far north Queensland, April 2009
At low tide we would watch as the water retreated and what seemed like millions of soldier crabs would throw up a startling display of sand marbles as they dug their holes.

Coconut Beach, far north Queensland, April 2009
Fraser Island, April 2005
We would chase them across the soft sand and hear the symphony of low clicks as they scurried away then suddenly dug straight down into the sand and disappeared.

Pottsville Beach, NSW, Christmas Day 2013
If you scooped up a handful of sand you could feel the crab scratching as he kept right on digging until he got to your palm.

Fraser Island, May 2006
Sand is the natural enemy of the photographer. I have an embarrassingly large collection of vacuum cleaner attachments for getting sand out of every possible join, ring and crevasse on my cameras and lenses.

Pottsville Beach, NSW, May 2012
The first time I went to Fraser Island I remember thinking I had never seen sand like it; fine as icing sugar and almost weightless, lifting up in the light breeze and travelling along the beach in clouds. My camera spent a goodly amount of time tucked under my shirt whenever it wasn't in use.

Kirra Beach, November 2009
The beauty of sand is how Mother Nature uses it as her canvas. With the constant tide she creates magnificent artworks for us that mostly go unseen and often last for only a few seconds.

Coconut Beach, far north Queensland, April 2009
Pottsville Beach, NSW, Christmas Day 2013
Pottsville Beach, NSW, 2011
Walking in sand can be hard. The soft white sand dunes far back from the shoreline suck your feet down taking all the momentum of your step causing awkward shuffling, especially when you are trying to run in sand hot enough to fry an egg. This beautiful sand squiffs as you walk which I imagine to be the sound of millions of grains rubbing together.

Tugun Beach, May 2006
If just the top layer of this dry sand becomes damp, it sets hard and dries a few millimetres thick. As you walk along the effect is like broken glass that instantly dissolves away into grains. As you get closer to the surf the sand firms up around the tidemark then softens again at the water's edge where the undertow sucks and pulls at your feet tearing the sand away from around them in streams.

Pottsville Beach, NSW, May 2012
On the Big Island of Hawaii in 2013 we were lucky enough to be staying close to a black sand beach in Pahoa. When you first set eyes on black sand it is quite astonishing and difficult to take in.

Kaimu Beach, Pahoa, Hawaii, October 2013
The water lapping the shore appears greyish green, not blue because the sand colours the sunlight coming through the water. The black sand results from red-hot lava flowing to the coastline, setting again into rock, then being worn away by the endless pounding surf.


I've been asked a few times if we brought any black sand or lava rock home with us. The short answer is no, we did not bring home or disturb anything we photographed. I'm not really a superstitious person but legend has it that Pele will bring bad luck upon anyone who removes lava rock from the islands. 


The National Parks and tour operators get a constant stream of rocks mailed back to Hawaii from people all over the world who experienced misfortune after taking them home. Having seen Pele's fury first hand at Kilauea, there is no way we were prepared to chance it. 

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