21. January 2022

The summer I … partied in a house that slid into the sea

Near the site where, one summer, Tony Wright watched a house get taken by the sea.

Near the web site the place, one summer, Tony Wright watched a house get taken by the sea.Credit:Tony Wright

But yr on yr, the sea crept in. It nibbled at the dunes. The dunes started collapsing. The seaside disappeared.

One wild Easter evening in the mid-’60s a house close to ours teetered as the ocean lashed its foundations and vehicles got here by way of the storm to haul the constructing away.

Our summers saddened and shrank.

We hunkered between dripping sand cliffs and the encroaching shallows, or hitch-hiked away to extra enticing stretches of sand.

Towards the finish of the ’60s nice Euclid tip vehicles rumbled to our misplaced seaside and dumped piles of basalt boulders, creating a muscular seawall that saved our homes from being swept away.

Those Euclid vehicles, the greatest in the world then, had been used by way of the Nineteen Fifties to construct stable breakwaters round the transport harbour a few kilometres alongside the coast to the west.

We have been gradual to make the connection.


Eventually we realized the greatest of these breakwaters trapped the sand that had all the time swept alongside the coast to replenish our seaside. Without sand, our seaside perished.

Here was our mid-century style of sea-level rise, man-made.

A larger catastrophe waited a few hundred metres up the coast, the place the new seawall ended.

Without the safety of a rock barrier, the seaside eroded quick.

Streets of seaside homes fell into the sea. Owners had a selection: load their homes on vehicles and take them away, or go away them for the subsequent excessive tide.

By the summer of 1970, lots of the homes nonetheless left have been deserted.

And so we took to arranging events to farewell the remaining reminders of fine occasions.

The surfers and people who knew the sea and the moon figured the date of the subsequent spring tide.

We ordered kegs of beer.

Word unfold, although there have been no cellphones and social media was greater than a era away.

The whisper went round seashores and bars, and seeped from automotive to automotive at the drive-in film theatre.

And on a summer evening of the full moon, with a stiff breeze whipping vicious little waves, we stuffed a house at the fringe of land and sea and took care to not step on the drooping verandah.


The moon-driven tide had nowhere to go. The waves gnawed at the sand and the stumps beneath the house, every surge carving out a new pocket.

The outdated constructing groaned. The verandah fell and floated away.

The lounge room was subsequent, the floorboards splintering, all of us hollering and cheering.

We moved the social gathering alongside, sliding the keg a bit inboard. Heaving our bodies stuffed the kitchen, a smoke haze trapped beneath the ceiling.

By morning, most of the house was gone, like a Viking funeral ship floating away.

The years of our youth spent on the outdated seaside had largely gone, too.

The tide was on the ebb.

Tony Wright has returned to this seaside of his youth close to Portland, south-west Victoria, and lives in a house protected by the outdated seawall. This piece is a part of a sequence by workers writers recalling significantly memorable summers.

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