How I knew I’d Grown Up…

Mollymook Beach sparkling in the morning sun.
Mollymook Beach sparkling in the morning sun.

‘Remember that time you challenged David to a swimming race in the sea pool,’ hubby asked as we walked along the breakwater.

‘I’m sure it would have been the other way around,’ I said, not at all convinced that it was. ‘I do remember we’d been watching the Commonwealth Games and Hayley Lewis had bagged a heap of medals.’

David, hubby’s best mate, had started on about how she wasn’t that good and butterfly wasn’t that hard. As these weekends usually involved alcohol, one thing had led to another and the challenge was on: butterfly in the sea pool.

‘Can you remember who won?’ Hubby was looking across the harbour to the sea pool and the scene of the challenge.

I shook my head. ‘Nope. No idea.’

Who won wasn’t the point (although I’m pretty sure it was me- back in those days I wasn’t quite 23 and was swimming 50 laps at lunchtime for fun). The point was an early morning challenge swim on a Sunday morning in January, 1990 in the sea pool in Ulladulla Harbour.

‘I do remember that David gave up on the butterfly about four strokes into it, though,’ hubby remembered.

After all these years Ulladulla has changed- yet in many other ways hasn’t changed.


Most of the fishing fleet (Ulladulla is home to a large commercial fleet) was out of the harbour and the breakwater looked as though it had been updated.


The posh seafood joint with the view of the harbour has been replaced by an Indian restaurant; and Rudolph’s- the best pizza in town- is no longer where it used to be. There’s a Woolworths mall in the main street and the coffee is definitely better. The park is still there, but it’s now terraced and has more picnic tables.


Driving out of town we called in at Warden Head to check out the view from the lighthouse- and maybe see if we couldn’t spot any more whales. No more whales, but plenty of remember when’s- this time involving off-shore fishing trips that inevitably ended with my husband providing the burley as he threw up mostly from go to whoa.


A few kays down the road at Burrill Lake we stopped to look out over one of the best views on the South Coast- Dolphin Point. It looked exactly the way that we remembered it looking. The water was the same shades of blue through to turquoise it always was. There was still a fisherman on the rocks.


It was only as we were driving through Narrawallee (‘we used to fish for flathead off this beach, darlin’) that I said what I think we’d both been thinking.

‘It feels like we’re saying goodbye to the South Coast and that part of our relationship.’

It did. It’s like we’re moving into a new phase and those early years together feel like it was another lifetime. We’ve moved past the scurvy inducing diet of sausages, bread and beer; the couple’s competitions over the pool table at the Golf Club in the beach on a Saturday afternoon; and taking the short cut home through the cemetery on a Saturday night after dancing too long, singing too loud, and drinking too much.

Certain songs will always remind me of those years – I can’t listen to Dee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart without remembering that house in Beach Rd – but we’ve grown up. It’s now time for the next adventure – the next exciting phase.

Burill Lake Beach
Burill Lake Beach

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

8 thoughts

  1. Ah yes I can very much relate to the concept of moving on… literally and metaphorically of course. I’ve been contemplating that notion of ‘middle age’ lately and feeling unhappy about the idea of it. I’ve got a blog post drafted – about the notion that I’ve missed out on much and not ready to be middle aged (no partner, family etc) – but you’re right about the fact that I ‘have’ so much more than I once did – including knowledge and experience…

  2. Lovely to see a part of the world where we holidayed a few times back in the 1990s. I loved Mollymook in particular. I also have friends from that part of the NSW South Coast. It is pretty special! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I spent so much of my childhood in Milton and around Mollymook and Narrawallee. My dad grew up in Milton and none of his siblings left. I would spend school holidays with my grandmother who lived right on the Princes Hwy in Milton. I still visit often because my cousins live there. Such a great spot …
    As for Dee-Lite, my 17 year old daughter has just discovered “Groove is in the heart” which is a huge flashback song for me too! My flashback takes me to a back packer trip to the Gold Coast at the age of 20 in 1990. Wow.
    So many correlations Jo!

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