Postcards from Byron: David Roland goes ocean swimming

In our Postcard from Byron this week, David Roland writes of his delight in sharing his passion for ocean swimming with his daughter.

When the lockdown descended, how was I to shake off the sense of dislocation? I’ve written before that ‘the shifting moods of the bay (Byron Bay) always soothed and elevated my own’ so I turned to my trusted companion, the ocean.

But the absolute delight this time has been introducing my second daughter, who arrived home from the UK before the lockdown, to ocean swimming. She has trailed me like a puppy in training as we’ve swum across the bay, freestyling, backstroking, breaststroking and locomoting in any way she could. Now she is hooked.

After the summer of smoke-filled skies, the berating northerly winds that coaxed bluebottles and lava-like flows of ‘cornflake’ seaweed onshore, the sea showed its kindness in autumn. The northerlies transmuted into feathery sou-westerlies, the seaweed went wherever seaweed goes, the cobalt skies doused us with warmth and the ocean opened the lid on its living jewels. Fish, many of them tropical visitors, were everywhere. Underwater rocks emerged from the seabed bearing mats of scalloped-shaped seaweed, turtles and fish feasting upon them. One morning we swam out to the Tassie II wreck unable to turn in any direction without eyeballing fish who, fearless and curious, matched our stares. We couldn’t stopper the joy that kept erupting, gratitude on our lips each time we came up for air.

With the winter chill now upon us and wetsuits appearing, I will remember our pandemic autumn for something special. A parent’s heart gladdens when a life lesson is taken on by their offspring. A love of ocean swimming and awe in nature is a gift for life.

About David Roland

Dr David Roland is a writer and psychologist. His previous two books published internationally are How I Rescued My Brain and The Confident Performer. His latest book, The Power of Suffering: growing through life crises is available to purchase here from the Book Room at Byron. Read more about David here


With thanks

These projects are supported by our friends at the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, who are generously funding participation fees for Australian authors, allowing us to re-imagine the 2020 Festival program. Please stay tuned for further news. Thanks also to our long-term funding partner, Create NSW.

Byron Writers Festival