Normanville is a coastal town in the Australian State of South Australia, on the west coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s about an hour drive from the city of Adelaide, where I’m from.
When we were kids, my mom and dad would stuff my two brothers, my sister and I in the back of the station wagon, along with all sorts of equipment that my mom deemed necessary to take (usually most of the contents of the entire house, you know, just in case we needed it). Dad would drive us down, through the windy roads, up and down through hills and fields, stopping at least half a dozen times for a bathroom emergency. I’d stick my headphones connected to my Walkman in my ears by the window seat, watching the rolling fields, huge cliffs, ancient gumtrees and herds’ of cows go by. I loved it. When I got sick of listening to Backstreet Boys, Hansen or Britney Spears, I’d pull my headphones out and all six of us would try and count all the kangaroos we’d spy (dead or otherwise).
This sort of family excursion would happen quite often, and it was different every time, but it was always magical. I think road trips always are. Sometimes we’d stop in Myponga, a tiny town, and visit the bric-a-brac store that’s been there since the beginning of time or the markets. Sometimes we’d stop in Yankalilla, another country town just a bit bigger then Myponga, and get freshly baked bread from the bakery that I remember being so very fluffy. Eventually we’d make it to the Normanville foreshore, where we’d spend hours on the rocks collecting periwinkles, and finding tiny crabs, seahorses and hermit crabs.
Now all grown up, my sister and I invited my mom and dad to drive down on a very sunny winter day. Perhaps we were both feeling particularly nostalgic, and the fact it was a long weekend, or work had left us tired and meh. But we said, fuck it, let’s go to Normanville, and let’s take mum and dad.
Despite the fact all four of us are much, much older, and this time my two brothers were off doing-God knows-what, I was a kid again. My mom didn’t quite bring as much crap as she used to, but she did bring a ridiculous number of towels, just in case she fell in the water. Fair enough I thought, when I asked dad why the hell there were so many towels in the back of his Volvo. I suppose as you push towards sixty the fear of falling in to the ocean because you’re not quite as dexterous as you used to be, is a very real, concerning thing (note to myself for much later). Dad played the best of the 80s all the way there and back to Adelaide, and this time we stopped both in Myponga and Yankalilla.
In Yankalilla, my mom and dad visited all the bric-a-brac stores. There’s about four, and they’ve also been there forever and totally worth getting lost in, especially if you like the smell of vintage books, and weird fine china.
When we got to Normanville, we visit the local surf store there, we always do – South Coast Surf. It stocks the best clothes, stuff you can’t even find in best surf shops in the city. The best part about it is this great male manikin at the front always adorning the same blue board shorts and a Hawaiian lei. Hawaiian Lei Manikin Man has been there since as long as I can remember. And like every time before, dad tells us to wave at him.
This time when we reached the Normanville foreshore, it was late in the afternoon, so the tide was in, but there were still plenty of rocks to climb over. It hasn’t changed since I was a small child, but this time, as a somewhat decently functioning adult, and though still magic, you appreciate the scene before you a whole lot more. The thought of the three back-to-back meetings I have when I’m back to work on Tuesday are suddenly not so grinding in my mind, and that pesky car registration bill that is due in two weeks doesn’t matter so much. The Earth is so ancient, and so full of stories, so as I stepped over the rocks I’m reminded how magic life can be.