Mine is a memory as a child having a family holiday in Caloundra where we spent most of our weekends. Days when my sister and me would go wandering to the beach on our own. God forbid no sunscreen for us – good old coconut oil and a beach towel sufficed. Down to Shelly Beach to collect cowries as they were the “jewel of the shells” or skip to Kings Beach to bake in the sun. If it was a special day we would see a shark hung up by the fishermen. It was just what was done back then.

Dad was a keen fisherman and we were known as ”The Fisher Girls”. Oh, we each had our own fibreglass rod with its Alvey reel. Very special. His first boat was a bond wood boat he built under our house. He was a joiner by trade and what a great boat with its Mercury motor. She was named “Wee-Ona”. I guess the name said it all for it was Dad’s pride and joy. We would go to the Jumpinpin, now I think it is called Sanctuary Cove near Hope Island. Finally, when our holiday house was built we would all go with dad to Golden Beach boat ramp at Caloundra.

Dad’s unique way of sizing fish

There were only the boat ramp and the one shop where dad would get his bait. Different bait to catch different fish depending on the season. Well my sister and me only knew it as the “lolly shop”. Our treat usually a rosy apple because it lasted longer at the end of a long day’s fishing in Pumicestone Passage. Our sandwiches, our rods and a bucket to pee in. Dad, mum, my sister and me and always an early start. I loved the wind and the salty spray in our little faces but not the boredom of waiting for the fish to bite. We never crossed the Caloundra bar as dad always told us it was too dangerous.

1964 in the Wee-Ona at Jumpinpin

So the channel it was! We even knew the meanings of the beacons so as to navigate the passage. Yes, we were the “Fisher Girls” and I would longingly look across the water to an island. Oh, it was mysterious and beckoning. Uncharted territory. The beach and the trees which to our little eyes was a jungle. Goodness, what dangers could lurk in such a place? Dad would always scale and gut the fish before we headed home, kept fresh in the metal Esky that he still has today. When we were out fishing the catch was housed in the cane creel floating in the water.

Dad’s proud catch

We would drift with the current or drop anchor. Dad would start up the “Merc” by pulling on the cord, a bit like the old Victa mower. We would follow the fish and cast reels until the cane basket was nearly full. Now little girls like bouncing puppies need their exercise time. Sometimes a glistening white sandbank would erupt at low tide. While dad prepared the fish my sister and I would run and run all over the sand looking for any signs of marine life that stayed behind.

I don’t know why but one day after angling for the day Dad pulled up the anchor, pulled the “Merc’s” cord and away we went. Oh, it was exciting crossing the passage. As we did we realised dad was headed for the “Treasure Island”. What creatures or natives lived in the thick bush? Was he really going to land there? Our imagining turned to the realisation that we were going to land. Well, that was thrilling enough. I can’t remember mum and dad being with us. Such was our exuberance we were weaving our way through bushland. We were explorers investigating the terrain of this alluring land.

1969 day trip to Bribie

Underbrush scraping our legs and brushing our faces, the roar of the sea we were on a mission to find what was beyond. The roar of the sea beckoned us and our little feet had wings. We were pioneers, “The Famous Five” or “Secret Seven”. Our first glimpse was the sea. Clear blue water and a glistening pristine beach that seemed to go on forever. No one about, just us awestruck by the beauty in front of us, oh the exhilaration of discovery. We had discovered a new land just ours. I think that was the way it was discovered. By two over imaginative little girls. My sister and I had explored and conquered that mysterious island. Yes, two little wide-eyed girls. “The Fisher Girls”.

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