On Cowie Beach

Through a dark tunnel of tangled fern and fig,
We tread carefully along a humid track,
Wondering what lies ahead.
There had been no signs or markings at the roadside,
Just a gap in the trees, beckoning us in.

As we walk, we feel the forest edge approaching-
A breeze, at first so soft that only the newest growth is trembling
Circles salt air up into the ancient canopy
Until fan palms dance and sun filters down
Lighting a path of fallen fronds and blue damsons.

Seconds later, it looms before us with a jolt –
A vast and frightening beauty, hard and bright.
It’s wild and raw and empty –
A place of fierce and fragile edges,
Where rainforest and reef collide.

Ahead, a pale and duneless sandscape,
Sculpted by gusting winds and rushing tides
Stretches out from mangroved fringes
Pushing a thousand crystal serpents toward a foamy horizon
Where relentless breakers pound coral into sand.

Amid the roar and hiss and throbbing drama
A solitary mangrove basks in a low tide lagoon,
All quiet strength and peaceful resilience.
I walk out to it, intrigued by its tranquil presence
And stay there, spell-bound, until the tide rushes in.

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Cowie Beach, looking back towards the rainforest

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The solitary mangrove tree, which was growing right out at the edge of the reef, not far from the breakers

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A storm approaching. We got rained on (so did my camera kit, but it survived)

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The beach is a short walk under a canopy of fan palms, north of Cape Tribulation Beach (along the unmade coastal  road to Cooktown). You need a 4WD to get there because the road is steep and potholed and you have to cross water

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One thought on “On Cowie Beach

  1. Having read about your walk out to the solitary mangrove tree, I’m just thinking of the movie Papillon, where they escaped Devils Island on sacks of coconuts but washed up mudflats of similar landscape to that in your photos, with distant mangroves in the background but found themselves surrounded by quicksand!
    You guys have really done some miles while we have been away in Hawaii and ignoring the internet.
    John and Barb


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