In my search for new pieces of sea, I heard from the Australian writer Lisa Southgate who recently visited Seventeen Seventy, a beachfront village on the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland about a five hour drive north of Brisbane, so named because the then Lieutenant James Cook, later to become Captain Cook, made a stop there in the year in question.
‘It really is beautiful,’ Lisa says. ‘The colours are rich — the sand is not the white you expect from Queensland beaches, but a thick, suede-like red-gold; with strings of bleached white pumice along the shores, and then the land behind is still green because it’s protected, and it’s scrubby, crouching stuff — lots of pandanus (a palm-like shrub). The sky is a much cleaner, deeper, vibrant blue than in Brisbane, and the water is so clear the blue of it just bowls me over.’
This is so different from the grey-toned evergreens of the North Atlantic I’m writing about in ‘The Precious Sea’. There, my character has to find her own brightness in a monochrome world. But apart from the amazing colours Lisa describes, I love that due to heavy restrictions on developments, the beach looks very much as it would have done when Cook first saw it.
How amazing is that? It really is like stepping back in time, after all.