Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

A Surfers Paradise

A Surfers Paradise

Rynhardt Dohse

Year 12, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School

This is my happy place, a place I can always come to clear my head. As I glide over the silvery orange waters to catch the next looming crest, I feel the anxiety and stress of life melt away. I am in the moment, I am the ocean and it is me. In this moment, nothing else matters. Not the bills I have to pay at home or the mounds of housework that needs to be done. This wave is all I think of, my arms automatically move and thrust me forward. I match the speed of the wave and I feel its familiar power start to push me firmly forward under my board. As I start to gather speed at a rate that always makes me a little nervous, I pop up into the fresh salty morning air and take a deep breath. Filling my lungs with the cold refreshing embrace. I lean forward and I let the power of the ocean under my feet and the flow of the wave guide me.

As I carve my path over the fiery water like an artist's brush to a canvas. The torrent of power beneath my feet starts to fade and I slowly find myself back near the abandoned white sands of the early morning beach. This chapter of my masterpiece done, I head back out, bobbing over the ever-present crests like seagull on a wavy morning. As I glide over the waves with a feeling of bliss, I scan for my next wave with a newfound intent. Yes... that's the one. With a crest coming at me, bigger than the last, I ready myself. This will be my finest piece yet.

Absolutely flying down the wave, I spot a dark object in the water. I lean desperately to avoid it... to no avail. I watch in slow motion as I realise, I am going to crash straight into whatever it is! With an almighty Thud, I fly face first off of my board and end up on top of the object, it's hard and crushes my ribs and I go under... I roll and tumble in dark white noise under the waves and my lungs scream and I panic...

Eventually, the ocean spits me out onto the white pristine sand of the beach and I lay there coughing out gutful's of salty water and then I find myself clutching onto a hard object. Wait... this is the stupid thing that caused my stumble! I look down and see a large turtle... In a woeful state. Fishing line wrapped so tight around his fins that he is completely paralysed, a plastic bag wrapped around his neck like a noose; no wonder it couldn't swim. It looks at me with deep sad eyes and I realise I need to act quickly.

I jump up, run and grab my knife from my bag. In anger I take the fishing line and plastic bags and try cutting them with a haste that defies belief. They barely budge... but I keep going and to my utter relief, I hear the turtle taking its first proper breath in who knows how long. It's kind eyes smile at me and I swear they say “thank you”. I carry my new friend to the water's edge and set it free once more and the guardian of the sea swims off. I came to my happy place, looking for peace and solitude, instead I leave with a new-found disgust at we have done to this world.