The great Maroubra Bay dart incident of 1936

Maroubra Bay occupies an uncanny, liminal spot in the roll call of Sydney’s eastern suburbs surf beaches.  Near a large prison and (formerly) a significant sewer outfall, it is the end of the line for the city’s bad juju – its psychic, social, physical and metaphysical by-products.  Little surprise, then, that it has been the home to some of Sydney’s more uncanny paranormal events.  Many times the surf has run solid with brown mullet, and lo the locals hath gone on swimming through the dark mass under turd.

This is a re-creation of the great Maroubra Bay dart incident of 1936, realised with plaster, fake grass and tiny plastic people.  And, it almost goes without saying … a dart.

Dart incident

Lt Col Dalgleish’s red coat from the war with the American colonies

“It is not the black clothes that are trying to the sight – black is the steadiest of all colours to work at; white and all bright colours makes the eyes water after looking at ’em for any long time; but of all colours scarlet, such as is used for regimentals, is the most blinding, it seems to burn the eyeballs, and makes them ache dreadful … everything seems all of a twitter, and to keep changing its tint.  There’s more military tailors blind than any others.”

Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, vol 1, pp 342-43.  London 1862.

Red coat


It’s a buoy!

As seen in the early morning gloom on Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra.  60 years ago, before the lake was made, this would have been in the middle of a sheep paddock.


Quicksilver delicacy of a lug nut cover

One of the advantages of living near a main road is that the footpaths are strewn with interesting bits and pieces that have spun off, blown off, or been smashed off the horseless carriages that so heedlessly hurtle by.  I once found a crude painting of a nude on panel.  I am particularly fond of cast-off hubcaps, especially from Fiats.

It has always struck me as surprising that ‘big rig’ prime mover trucks have pin-stripe paint jobs, with delicate curlicues decorating every flat, boxy panel.  It is like seeing a finely wrought silver chain on a man’s thick, hairy sunburnt wrist.  Not necessarily unwelcome, just not expected.

These trucks also have chromed covers for the lug nuts that hold the wheels to the axles.  A tiny decorative touch on a juggernaut.  One of these covers centrifuged into the gutter, for me to paint …

Lug nut cover

This lock is a Chubb

My dad used to keep his rowboat in a shed with a heavy lock on the door.  The paint on the shed was sun-blasted in a way that only seaside sheds can be.  As I remember it, the door was blue; the lock was Chubb.  I genuinely remember the lock as being all bulgy – don’t know if it was the name or its generally intimidating heft.

Dad was an economical boat owner.  We never had an anchor; he would rope together half a dozen house bricks and heave them over the side when we wanted to stop in one spot.  As I remember it, he didn’t bother to haul them up when we moved on, just cut the rope and off we went.  There must be some strange artificial reefs in the Port Hacking River all these years later.