I have come to watch the sun go down. The glossy leaflet I picked up in Perth Tourist Information Centre tells me it’s one of the things I mustn’t miss while I’m in Geographe Bay. I have on my dinky vintage frock with the flippy skirt and flowers, and a pair of very cheap sandshoes from K-Mart. I am clutching my camera and look like a tourist. This is not a good thing. The sand is warm but the wind is cold. Later, walking down the street in search of something to eat, and in an ideal world, a beer to wash it down with, the wind will catch this skirt and flip it over my head, to the detriment of everyone in the thai restaurant whose view of the moonlit sea will be interrupted by a flash of my purple knickers. Sorry about that.
Further up the beach a gang of teenagers are having a laugh and shoving each other around, violence as a proxy for affection. If I climbed the rocks in front of me and shoved the bloke minding his own business with an esky and a fishing rod, I think he would not find it as funny as the lads by the waves do.
I love the sea. I love the white noise of the surf, and the way you can see to the edge of the world without obstacle. As the sun sinks lower the sky lights up crazy pink and gold. On the horizon there are three big ships: a couple of container ships and one that is all cranes and funnels. I wonder if the guys on them still find the sunset worth looking at. Maybe they have seen it so many times that it is just the way the world is painted.
I suffer a sudden attack of melancholy. The sky is Barbara Cartland pink, the sand is warm and I have a dress on. The sunset is genuinely extraordinary but I have no-one to share the moment with. Later in this trip I will realise that it is enough that I should be enjoying such experiences, but tonight I have yet to learn that lesson.
I dance with the waves for a little while, letting them wash up to my knees before jumping to safety. Maybe tomorrow I will swim, if I can work out what to do with the bike keys.
It is getting dark, and it is time for a beer. I scrunch my toes dry in the sand, put my shoes back on and go back to being a grownup. But walking through a party town where the glass-fronted restaurants are full of families does not lift my spirits.