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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Fun at the beach, but stay safe!

This weeks Sepia Saturday prompt image shows a threesome having fun on some unidentified beach, with two women holding a rolled up towel for their male companion to jump over. They seem to be holding the towel quite high off the ground and the jumper looks as if he could be experienced, but as he and the women are unidentified we can't be sure one way or the other. He may have impressed his friends, but the little dog behind shows a total lack of interest.

The following group of photographs come from one of my mother's albums, with the caption "Mollymook Xmas 1967". Mollymook is a beach on the South Coast of New South Wales, where our family spent our annual beach holiday that year. We weren't getting up to any high-jinks but it looks like sunny weather and I remember it as quite a good holiday, although at fifteen I think I was trying to assert my independence and meet some boys, and that my father was not too happy about the idea. He looks fairly relaxed here under the umbrella, but he wasn't really, as far as I was concerned. Despite his objections beforehand and recriminations later, I did manage to 'escape' for a short tine and get chatting with a couple of young surfers, but I suffered from sunburn as a consquence, having stayed out in the midday sun with not enough shade or protection.

 I also met another young man at the camping ground where we were staying and in fact had my first try at golf with him on the local course. I was pretty hopeless, perhaps because there were no left handed clubs available, but it was fun all the same. I think we may even have corresponded for a short time after going our separate ways.

While we were enjoying our holiday at Mollymook, a tragedy was unfolding at another Australian beach.  On 17 December 1967 at Cheviot near Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Harold Edward Holt, the then Prime Minister of Australia, had gone swimming unaccompanied in rough and wild surf and had disappeared. Cheviot Beach was not patrolled. After several days of unsuccessful searching, the Prime Minister was declared missing and presumed drowned. No remains were ever found. Mr Holt was a moderate swimmer but may have been over-confident and underestimated the power of the sea. There were many unsubstantiated theories about what might have happened to him, including being captured by Soviet spies and taken away in a submarine! At the time of his death he was aged 59 and had been in parliament for 32 years, but  had been the Prime Minister for just 22 months. I think his death probably brought home the dangers of of the surf to many Australians, and made us realise that drowning was something that could happen to anyone.

Here are a couple of press photographs found on the Trove web site, showing Mr Holt enjoying himself on the beach with his daughters-in-law, and spearfishing with a friend. While in office he had expanded Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War and his slogan "All the way with LBJ" created considerable controversy among Australian voters.


Harold Holt was the local member for Malvern, the electorate in which we now live. Many people find it slightly odd that the local swimming pool is named after him, but apparently it was under construction at the time of his death, and so it was decided to name it the Harold Holt Memorial pool.

In 1969, a plaque commemorating Holt was bolted to the seafloor off Cheviot Beach after a memorial ceremony. The inscription reads:
             "In memory of Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, who loved the sea
                                    and disappeared hereabouts on 17 December 1967."
There's also a more visible memorial plaque above the beach, which we saw when walking in the area few years ago. There's no beach access, and swimming is prohibited. Cheviot Beach is in Point Nepean National Park and was named after the SS Cheviot, which was wrecked on nearby rocks with the loss of 35 lives in 1887.

Photographs taken of the rugged coastline off Point Nepean National Park on a wild and windy but sunny day, August 2013

For more Sepian posts inspired by the prompt, visit Sepia Saturday #334, and if you're in northern climes and are planning a summer beach holiday, stay safe and swim between the flags!
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