How it all ended was with a bunch of us driving up the coast to see this dead shark that had washed up on the beach at Mile 19.
How it all began…only the killer could tell you that and he’s dead, too, just like that shark.
But, before it began there was life as we knew it and life was good.
20 Mile Beach was where we lived, where most of us had always lived. It wasn’t actually a 20 mile beach, it was many beaches and towns and coves along a straight, 20 mile stretch of west coast. It was beautiful, a great place to live.
Most of the towns were lively and there was plenty of work in fishing, seafood processing and hospitality among others. The towns at either end were quieter, not as popular with the tourists, which can have its advantages, too.
Our town was just north of Meridian Point, about halfway along this blessed stretch of coastline. Curl Beach, also known as Mile 11 or ‘The Curl’, population 12,000, was one of the busier places in the warmer months. If it got too much for us locals we had ‘The Mysterious Cove’ (parties, best waves) and ‘The Hidden Cove’ (parties, naked swimming and love fests). It was said that over 50% of my generation were conceived there.
The summers were amazing, when the tourists and the seasonal workers flooded in. It was non stop, we worked hard and we played hard. Winters were a bit harsh but, it was worth taking the rough with the smooth. There were rivalries between towns, usually friendly, sometimes trouble and rarely violence.
Our town did okay. It was well situated, one of the larger beach communities and we had Big Tony, my good friend Tony Bletchley. He was one of the toughest around, nobody wanted to fight him. We also had The Surf Ranch, finest bar on the coast where the resident entertainment was ‘The Dukes of Curl’, greatest band on this coast or any other. Yeah, it was our turf and we were certainly living the dream back then, Golden Days.
Greasy Pete was a little older than the rest of us; he had a wife and a kid but still hung out sometimes. He was the cleverest guy I’d ever met. He reckoned he knew why the waves were so good at The Mysterious Cove, but that was something we didn’t want to know. Pete was also an ace mechanic, always in demand. He did most of the work on our cars including the classic that Big Tony drove around, an old Humber ‘Super Snipe’. It was such a great car, 3 litre straight 6 engine, orange metal-flake paint, plush interior, sharp front end with twin headlights. To some people it was a sight as synonymous with the area as Fraser’s Amusement Arcade, Grand Pier and the larger than life statue outside the Ice Cream Palace.
That car plays a significant role in this story.
The only drawback was the fuel, 18 miles to the gallon, shocking! But we would pool our money and some nights we would drive around for hours and miles, always turning heads, on the prowl for ladies. That was our thing, scoring with many, many females, here visiting or doing seasonal jobs. There’s no pride in it, or shame, it’s just the way it was back then.
We didn’t often go for our local chicks but, there was one I really liked, Shelley Ray. I’d known her from school. She wasn’t ‘in crowd’ or ‘outcast’, she was just lovely, an auburn haired cutie with eyes the colour of the ocean. She had a boyfriend. He was a real A-hole.
Nothing major ever really happened along 20 Mile Beach. It just grooved along, fairly relaxed, quite bohemian in places and secure.