A Good Friday in Glenelg North


Shuffling past the Old Gum Tree Reserve at lunchtime my boys are playing golf.


They’ve designed a course and while each hole is unique they share one green, located near the back fence and made with a disposable drink cup. Both carry various irons and woods and they’ve the park to themselves, but I hope the putters don’t suddenly become light sabres or Samurai swords.


Continuing west I mourn that in 2020 we’ve not yet had a BBQ in the park as circumstances haven’t allowed the simple joy of snags in a public place. This now belongs to a distant, almost unknowable era but one day…


Every Proclamation Day the park hosts formalities and a morning tea to mark the province’s beginning. A few years’ ago a friend, Sarah, took a selfie with Julia Gillard, who was in town for Christmas.


Bounding up to the then PM as she made her way through the scone-loving crowd, Sarah asked the question and so they both paused, smiled and click. Just like that. No burly black suits panicking into their lapel microphones and leaping like bears onto a salmon. I love that this could happen, just down the road.


It’s a kilometre from home to the beach and then another along the waterfront so my round trip’s about four kilometres. While I once ran, to now call it a jog might be hopeful. I could time myself with a sundial.


Over Tapleys Hill Road, I pass the MacFarlane Street reserve with its playground guarded by orange bunting. Alex learnt to ride a bike here. Palm trees patrol the perimeter and on spring mornings magpies swoop me. One once pecked my skull but I was clearly under-cooked as he didn’t come for a second bite. I wouldn’t eat my head either.


Waiting for me is the unhurried Patawalonga River. It’s only seven kilometres in length, but this is decidedly Mississippian compared to Kuokanjoki, the shortest river in Finland which connects lakes Sumiainen and Keitele. It’s three and a half metres long.


The King Street Bridge conquered I reach the esplanade and the sea swims into happy view. To my left is the sand castle-like Marina Pier with its now ghostly restaurants and apartment balconies. Turning right the pavers follow the beach and bounce along the dune line. There’s an energetic torrent of walkers and cyclists.


Glenelg North’s beach is wide and dotted by dogs, and with a gentle sky above it’s easy to momentarily ignore the cataclysm. People appear joyful. There’s communicable resilience.


Rip-rap rocks armour the shoreline against erosion. I recall how in 1983 during a Year 12 Geography excursion with our teacher Ali Bogle we visited this very spot on a balmy Thursday prior to our penultimate Kapunda High School social. I was astonished when Ali told us that it costs a million dollars a kilometre to build this protection.


The esplanade rises gently as I go, but on a rough day with a headwind it seems Himalayan. The eastern side is flanked by houses, all glass and chrome and dazzlingly white. Soon all will be modern, when the sixties-build apartments are bulldozed.


I often smirk at Number 20 with its outsized silver numerals on the front wall, and remember Shrek seeing the size of Lord Farquaad’s castle, and asking Donkey, “Do you think maybe he’s compensating for something?”


A sunshiny addition to this landscape is Audrey’s coffee caravan. It’s homemade with wooden window frames and pop-riveted aluminium and a chalkboard menu out the front. There’s always a punter or two waiting and drinking in the aroma.


I’m nearly at West Beach and the enviably positioned Sewerage Treatment Works on Anderson Avenue. Gee, poo often enjoys an idyllic (temporary) coastal address. Just short of the dunes there’s a small shelter. Occasionally, a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses sets up a pamphlet display to conscript the dog-walking, beach-loving, track-suited clientele so affectionately referred to in the Old Testament.


Although they cheerfully ignore me I recall the words of Bill Bryson: I don’t know why religious zealots have this compulsion to try to convert everyone who passes before them – I don’t go around trying to make them into St Louis Cardinals fans, for Christ’s sake – and yet they never fail to try.


I turn for home.


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About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Mickey, every day feels like Good Friday at the moment. Like yourself, very much looking forward to snags in a public place one day again.

  2. Another charming, whimsical stroll through the mind of MR. And what a delightful place to find myself on a Sunday morning. (please note, Greeks host Easter next week, so today is just another Sunday). And any story that can slip Shrek in gets an extra tick!


  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Are the Buffalo and the Atlantic revolving restaurants doing takeways these days Mickey?

  4. Glorious nothingness. Describes Adelaide to a tee. Speaking of which – had you turned west at the end of your ramble you could have introduced the boys to Patawolonga Golf Course where Wayne Letts (brother of dual Melbourne Cup winning postillion Johnny) was pro in the 70’s. If you find a Dunlop 65 #4 with red marks in the swamp right of the 5th its mine. (Don’t let Wayne near the boys innocent swings – I hold him personally responsible).
    “Golf and women are a lot alike. You know you are not going to wind up with anything but grief, but you can’t resist the impulse.” Jackie Gleason.

  5. Shane Reid says

    Thanks Mickey, I can think of no better way to spend an Easter Sunday in isolation than to have you wander me virtually through Glenelg. I hope I can visit for real some day.

  6. Colin Ritchie says

    Fab, as always Mickey!

  7. It sounds like the rip rap rocks would be a good place for a nice red. Red at the Rip Rap rocks. Try saying that quickly Mickey! (And also that last sentence.)

  8. Mickey yep,Good Friday seemingly permanent ground hog day thanks for taking us for a trip down to the bay

  9. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

    Swish- Atlantic revolving restaurant and the Buffalo? You’d have a better chance getting a bag of Samboy chips from Lennies.

  10. Thanks for this, Mickey.
    You reeled me in right from the first line.

  11. Peter Crossing says

    Thanks Mickey.
    Not nearly the same hive of activity a bit further south on the Esplanade at Somerton. “The lady on the bench” in Ty Manning’s sculpture is sensibly wearing her mask and the Rossall pelicans are keeping 1.5m apart.
    In the words of John Prine, “I wish you well”.

  12. Thanks Smokie. The weather here continues to be excellent, as autumn usually is, but I worry for our collective well-being when winter sets in.

    Hello there Peter. Good to here precautions are in place down your way. Trying to not look at my wall calendar on which I had written the Glenelg Home games. Three in April. At worst we’ll be reigning premiers for a while longer while your Roosters lie in wait!

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