Book: Water Access Only
More Tales and Adventures from Pittwater
where the only way to get home is by boat.
Edited and published by Juliette Robertson and Carol Beth Floyd.
Main photo: Church Point Lights by Jordon Robertson-Towner
… James spotted the sinking tinny through the rain and started to row out to it, realising that the rowboat itself was taking on so much water he mightn’t make it. Rowing madly, he had to gamble that his weight was not going to sink the tinny should he get into it and start bailing it out as quickly as possible. He gingerly got out of one half sunk boat into the equally compromised tinny, taking the oars with him in case the engine didn’t start. With much effort, he bailed the tinny out sufficiently to row it back to the shore with the additional weight of the half-submerged rowboat being towed behind him.
Scrambling to shore absolutely exhausted, he hurriedly secured the boats and arrived home white and shivering – a shell of the man who had left only hours before. Barely keeping it together, he headed straight for the bedroom, peeled off his drenched clothes and lay in the foetal position under a blanket till dinnertime.
From: Adventures at Mackerel
By Alex Hawthorne and James Robison
Written, collated, edited and produced by a community in COVID-19 lockdown, Water Access Only is a new community anthology by 60 residents from Scotland Island and Pittwater’s Western Foreshores living on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
This eclectic group of ordinary people living extraordinary lives merge seamlessly with more notable award-winning writers, poets, artists, songwriters and photographers – all bound together by shared experiences, an appreciation of their natural surroundings and the challenges of living in a heavily wooded, water-access-only location.
The vagaries of living in these communities also results in quirky, odd and even hilarious situations, as shown in many of the amusing stories and poems in the book. One well known island tradition is the Scotland Island Dog Race, described by long-time resident and storyteller John Travers from just a few stanzas of his poem: The K9 Melbourne Cup.
… It’s a local institution
Put on every year
Down at the Point on Christmas Eve
With beer and beer and beer
The world comes to a standstill
The girls get all dolled up
For the Scotland Island Dog Race
The K9 Melbourne Cup
It’s not your normal dog race
With greyhounds round a rink
They barge the dogs across to Bell
Then hurl them in the drink
And their owners in their kayaks
Or with flippers on their feet
Yell out Fido Fido Fido
As they urge them to compete
They’re not your normal type of dog
That races in the Cup
They breed them on the Island
They’re called the Aqua-pup
They’re raised there by the locals up there, up on the range
And I hate to say but some of thems got mange
And some of thems gone feral and some of thems inbred
And the dogs as well, they’re also kind of strange …
These resilient people have learnt to juggle cars and boats and ferry timetables and rely on each other for help in emergencies and hardships – or just to borrow an egg, an umbrella, or a chainsaw. They walk to each other’s homes for dinner parties and walk home by torchlight. Fences are few and doors are usually open.
This immersion in a semi-rural lifestyle means that they live with water tanks and septic tanks, experiencing the nearness of nature each day. Exposed to the whims of the weather and to sometimes difficult terrain, their lifestyle generates both challenges, pleasures and wonderful memories that remain with them forever.
While getting a cavity filled in a dentist’s chair in Los Angeles
I close my eyes and visualise the boat trip from Little Lovett Bay to Church Point
Untying from the long timber jetty and donning a sun-faded life vest,
Lowering the two-stroke engine and turning the key,
Glancing over at gum trees along the shore, dotted with white sulphur-crested cockatoos.
The brief floating moment mid-journey when the tinnie planes atop the water.
The deceleration as the Pink Water Taxi’s floating office appears to my right.
A customary wave at a fellow pilot as our vessels pass
Slipping the boat into reverse to slow into a park at the commuter wharf
Just as the sound of drilling stops.
CROSSING BROKEN BAY
By MARY PEARSON ANDREW
Reviews for Water Access Only
“If you want to know what it’s like to live the dream, fall into these pages and be beautifully, hilariously, gently and gloriously transported,”
Susan Duncan, best-selling author, Salvation Creek, The House, A Life on Pittwater and many other books.
“A beautifully produced anthology, capturing the essence of this part of the world,” Lisa Offord, Managing editor Pittwater Life.
“The value of listening to the stories of our Pittwater people is immeasurable. So, in this blessed new book, the stories, poems, even songs, concentrate on the present and living. And as for anxiety, you won’t find much of it here,”
Paolo Totaro AM Founding Chairman, Ethnic Affairs Commission of NSW (1977 – 1989)
- Full colour 160-page perfect bound anthology
- Packed with stories, poems, beautiful photography and artwork
- Featuring a link to an Offshore Spotify Playlist with musical tracks by talented offshore musicians to listen as you read.
- Prelaunch sales online from Nov 15th, 2021
- Retail price $35 plus postage
- Buy online at www.wateraccessonly.net
Co-Publisher, Juliette Robertson on the Background to what inspired the book.
When COVID-19 hit NSW and the state locked down throughout much of 2021, residents of the Offshore community found themselves at home. Unlike much of the state however, the Offshore community is surrounded by water and bushland which offer both a healing escape and inspiration for creativity.
During COVID-19 at the darkest times, the sun still shines on the water, the wind still whispers through the trees and neighbours still help each other. There is history here, and the air vibrates with the memory of all that has gone before and the possibility of new beginnings. One just needs to step out on the deck, and the senses are infused with the sights, sounds and smell of an adventurous life. That is what draws so many writers, artists, crafts people and musicians to this special place.
Juliette Robertson is not a stranger to capturing stories of communities. An adventure traveller and writer, she has produced two anthologies in her spare time away from the rigours of corporate life. So, marooned on Scotland Island during Lockdown, the thought of producing a new community anthology of true stories to celebrate this lifestyle began to percolate.
“I tested the idea by asking the locals if they were interested in collaborating on a second volume as a follow up to the first which was produced in 2009. The result was unanimous and so I formed a small offshore production team and called for contributions. Written, photographic, artistic works poured in. Our production team has worked remotely throughout the year and each person has generously shared their time and expertise so that in 9 months we have created volume 2 Water Access Only, More tales and adventures from Pittwater.
“I believe it is so important for communities and families to capture their stores to inform and inspire future generations. Anyone wanting advice or mentoring to lead such a project for their own family or community should contact Juliette Robertson here