All Up, Not A Bad Day In Toonalook
Ding Alley is pleased to report on a number of small wins and good things occurring in the coastal town of Toonalook today.
A reassuring sense of continuity was established early on, with the family of kookaburras living in the big eucalypt over on Hill Street bursting into chorus just before 5.00am, reminding all in earshot – especially that other mob of kookas down by Albatross Ave (heard retorting in the distance) – of established territorial boundaries, and woe betide any intruder stupid enough to transgress.
It may be naïve, but Ding Alley would like to interpret this throaty morning call-and-response as symbolic of a local ecosystem in robust shape.
In other pre-dawn news, the five mates who’ve convened to check the surf from the back beach lookout pretty much every morning for the last 20-odd years – Rob, Ash, Mark, Wayne, and Al – were all in chipper form.
Being of a certain vintage, at least one of these gentlemen usually presents with either a physical impairment (shoulder / lower back), or burdened by consternation about partner, offspring or finances.
This morning, however, all was well in the orbit of these surfing enthusiasts, which was reflected in a spirited ten minutes of shit talk – all giving as good as they got – before electing to surf the second bank down on the back beach.
And though Thursday’s surf – fading remnant groundswell overlaid by something more recent and immediate from the east – won’t go down in Toona folklore as anything remarkable, entirely enjoyable waves were on offer for any surfer not completely spoilt by the best winter in yonks.
With cloud cover holding the dreaded north-easterlies of spring at bay, almost every surf option in the region had something to offer, and though it may be generous to describe the surf today as ‘good’, it would indeed be a very bitter surfer not to label the day’s waves as ‘fun’.
On the subject of bitter surfers, notorious local firebrand Barry ‘Baz’ Cornell has formed an alliance with local enforcer magpie ‘Mags’– who’s been targeting Barry for a campaign of relentless and violent harassment every time the self-proclaimed sheriff of Toona crosses the reserve to get to main beach.
“It all started when Baz had a go at Mags on the beach path a few years back – told him to ‘fark orf back to farken magpie-land or wherever the fark ya farken come from,’ or words to that effect”, local sparky Josh Cassidy told Ding Alley.
“Ever since then… shit… Mags never went ANYONE else, but he’d just line up Baz the moment he stepped on to the reserve and gave him hell. Baz probably needed the drama, especially recently, with the joint being so quiet with COVID, and I think both Mags and Baz enjoyed the theatre of it all to be honest.
“But anyway, Mags swooped this morning just as Baz was exhaling a surf-check scoob – came out the other side of that big blue cloud a bird with a decidedly different attitude.
“They’re pretty tight now. Soulmates, even.
“I shudder to think what these two might get up to as a team.”
In positive economic news, ToonaPies proprietor Gavin Stringer’s decision to introduce a Curried Lentil pie to his range this week has been deemed a success, with today marking the fifth consecutive day of selling out the limited test batch.
The addition of non-meat products to the bakery’s historically carnivorous range has been a challenging adjustment to make for this family owned-and-operated Toona institution, but necessary to combat the creeping market-share inroads made by ‘Toona Social’ – the flouncy Artisan Bakery at the other end of the township – owned as a tax write-off by wealthy seachangers and staffed by earnest craftspeople seemingly lacking the ability to smile.
Ding Alley caught up with the bellwether of Toona’s swinging bakery patrons, local Soul Surfer Shane Reid, for comment.
“It’s been hard. On the one hand, there’s that signed Morning Of The Earth poster in ToonaPies that tickles my fixation with an imaginary golden past, I can squint my eyes and hum ‘Simple Ben’ and believe I’m back in time, but then ToonaSocial’s got all the good bacteria and the gluten-free gear and a Kombucha range to die for, so my soul’s been torn.
“Until now that is. Those Curried Lentil pies are insane.
“ToonaPies for life!”
At approximately 2:45pm, out on the horizon, while shadowing a slow-moving mother and calf, a sub-adult great white deviated from its bearing and turned west towards the Toonalook coast for several minutes before – for reasons eternal and mysterious – reverting back to its southerly course trailing the humpbacks.
Witnesses report the Main Beach post-school session out front of Toona SLSC as a typically dynamic affair, with the light onshore and mixed swell providing numerous corners and oncoming sections for Toona’s grommet brigade to do heaps good reos ‘n’ stuff.
Thirteen-year-old Sebastian Hitchens – reconciled to the unfortunate events of a month ago where Mum missed filming his first ever air reverse – managed his second successful completion of the manoeuvre, with three of his best mates on hand to verify the ride with hoots so loud and heartfelt it made him flushed and almost teary with joy.
This achievement pales, however, in comparison to eight-year-old Cormac Hughes’ (tube claimer Danny Hughes’ younger brother) serendipitous moment of triumph.
Having forgotten his flippers at home, the young boogie boarder successfully begged his brother for a go on his surfboard.
And so, at 4:23pm, with a year of mucking around in the shorey on a boogie board giving him the required familiarity and wave sense, Lil’ Cormac Hughes caught a whitewater and got to his feet just as the wave moved over a slight depression that pulled the foam away from the trough. The young fella angled across that green wall, felt the simultaneous slide and drive, his little mind blown apart and reassembled in register to the enduring joy of his life.
Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of this were parents Ian and Margaret Hughes. Dinner negotiations with Cormac that night over how a fast-tracked second-hand Toonastix shooter could be earned provided motivational leverage for modest academic effort and household chores for some time yet.
To wrap up an entirely satisfactory day in Toona, undistinguished fifty-year-old Toona Heights surfer, Arty Cook’s impromptu date night suggestion to wife Amanda – dinner at Toona Thai with a nice Sav Blanc – culminated in an unexpected but much appreciated bout of lovemaking.
And as Arty drifted off with the trifecta of morning surf, nine holes of golf, and a root under his belt, and Toona settled under a moonless sky, the Hill Street kookaburras dreamt of hearty proclamations, mere hours away.
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is Illustrator/Painter Dave @macccatoons McArthur and Writer/Designer Gra Murdoch.