The beach at Port Hedland, northwestern Australia 1975

This is a land of sunsets,

Red as the Port Hedland earth,

And sunrises

Behind the massive iron-ore heaps

And the huge iron-ore machines.


Sunday, one day workless, free,

Leaving the pent-up builders’ camp,

Out of the double gates,

A short walk in the heat,

And it was always hot,

There stretched away the endless sea,

A treacherous sea,

A sea of snakes and octopus,

Stranded in their rocky caves,

Coiled up in their tentacles,


While sharks on guard manoeuvred in the waves.



A town of beer and iron-ore and dollars,

Where no one stays for long.

It’s work and sleep and then the plane

Back to Perth to rest again.


But here,

Shells are strewn along the beach,

Where the dark-skinned girls,

Incongruous in dresses,

Gather coral in the sun.


Out there is Bali,

There lie the Indonesian Isles,

And further up the rocky coast,

Pearling luggers beached at Broome.