The Day of the Jackhole

The Day of the Jackhole

Celebrating 40 years on this earth

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1973. Floaties for the soul.

November 3, 2011 —

I have a sense of my arms around Dad’s shoulders. We’re in the Ilfracombe pool instead of the round, above-ground, do-it-yourself pool at home (above) where I spend  a lot of toddler walking time. The Ilfracombe pool is bore-fed and warm. Half-way along the bottom, there is a sudden drop where it becomes the deep end, though it might not be. I’m a toddler and a bucket seems deep to me. There’s a wooden plank of a diving board.

I’m looking at my Dad.

He is in the deep end gesturing to me. I’m standing on the edge all giggly and nervous. He’s holding out his hands and telling me to jump in. 

With tightly-wound excitement, I build up the courage to jump. I don’t remember if I squeal, because now is as good a time as any, but I go under and pop up spluttering as my Dad grabs me to him. I clutch at his neck. I have such a strong memory of his wet shoulders and neck, since whenever we are in deep or dangerous water in these early seventies, that’s what I’m always hanging onto. In years to come, we will play a game where I stand in his hands and he launches me in the air. We do this endlessly. He never seems to get sick of it.

I love it.

I love the water.

I am never happier then when I’m in water. This will be a theme all my life. Rivers, creeks, dams, puddles. Above-ground backyard swimming pools at a mate’s place, on your bike and down to the creek in summer. I will turn endless underwater summersaults in town pools, counting to myself and arching my back as I spin. I will do backflips off pool edges and stand on slippery rocks under local waterfalls. I will float down rivers and live in fear of the dreaded leeches that are swimming with me. Flop around in the surf and scream as my brother shoves me so I’ll step on Blue Bottles and sting the soles of my feet.

Throughout my childhood, there will be a familiar refrain: “Get yer togs on.”

But for now, it’s just dips in the the Ilfracombe pool. Because the reality of outback Queensland is the word ‘dry’. Water is sacred.


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