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U3A Writing: That Day At Lockhart Gorge

Jill Moore tells of high drama at Lockhart Gorge, a rocky gully on the south coast of Victoria, Australia.

Last century a ship of this name foundered there with the loss of all hands except a lady passenger, Eve Carmichael, and one midshipman, Tom Collins. The midshipman sheltered the lady until help arrived, and she went back to England. A brass plaque on a rock commemorates this tragic event.

We had been visiting relatives on a farm at Cobrico, and on this day they decided to take us to the beach. The view from the top of the cliffs is quite impressive, but boys being boys, my husband Jim and our youngest son Bradley decided to climb down to the beach to take some photographs.
Not content with taking pictures of oceans and water, Jim decided to go out onto a rock and look back at the beach. The sea was quite calm, and the boys easily reached the rock only by getting their shoes wet.

As Jim stood on the rock, I was horrified to see a king wave developing behind the boys. They were too far away for me to shout a warning, but Bradley saw it coming, and the boys had time to close the camera and hold hands before it swept them off the rock.

We had recently lost our youngest son after a long illness, and I had premonitions of losing these two in one fell swoop. Next thing only Jim came up. He looked around and immediately dived. It seemed ages, but probably only a couple of minutes, until he appeared with Bradley clinging to his back. He told me afterwards that he had found Bradley under a big rock, bumping his head against the rock to get up. Jim pulled him out backwards, and took him to the surface, telling him to hang onto his back.

The waves were big now, and consistent, carrying Jim towards the rock face. He is a strong swimmer, but he was obviously having trouble with this surf.

As he was being thrown against the cliff face, he was trying to take the force on his hands, but I could see blood on his forehead. 'Don't let him be knocked unconscious,' I prayed.
I cannot swim, and there was not a rope handy. And if there was, how could I get it to him? Eventually he worked his way along the cliff and out onto the sand, falling flat on his face.
Several of the bystanders who had been watching this drama then helped him to his feet, and he came over to me. I hugged him.

We went home much wiser.

It is not everybody who can say that they have been washed off the cliffs at Lockhart Gorge.


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