Over this side of the globe the phrase 'king tide' is just another way of describing the biggest of our high tides. As I recently mentioned, Darwin doesn't get much surf. What we do get though are some substantial tidal variations - approaching 8 metres in height. King tides happen a few times a year, but aren't especially noteworthy during the dry season when the winds are relatively calm. However a monsoon season king tide accompanied by stormy winds is the kind of event that gets people to the beach in droves. The evening's entertainment feature of recent days has been a churning sea accompanied by 10 metre high seawater plumes slamming into the rocky shore.

Tiny seabirds anxiously scrambled for shelter in amongst the rocks - hell I even saw cockroaches legging it out of the crevices, but as for us humans? Not so much. If we can get one toe up to the line of nature having a grumpy day, we'll do it. Children squealed with delight as they diced with Neptune's fury, playing cat and mouse with the big swells. As for me, the cautious one protecting her precious camera from a freak wave, I picked my way through the sand and leaves to join the thronging masses down on the foreshore last weekend to snap a few images of the chaos.

Over the last week I've been down to the shore a few times to check out the aftermath, and boy is the beach in a sorry state right now; entire sections of the foreshore cycle path have been broken up, fenceposts are dangling mid-air, many beach-dwelling trees have fallen and there's a 10cm layer of relocated sand where the tarmac used to be. Entire dunes had been carved out. Tree roots had been stripped of their moorings, exposed to the air like raw nerve endings. A colourful confetti spread of microplastics threads its way through the tideline. And the local bird population has presumably relocated to Alice Springs to sit things out for a while.
As much as it dismays me to see our beach so torn up, this is a natural event...but it's worth acknowledging that sea level rise will only make this problem worse year on year. Yet it rates nary a mention amongst the Greek chorus of modern day ills that dominate our local paper readers comments section. King tides are relatively common, as are stormy monsoonal days with high winds. But if this had coincided with a cyclone, even a small one,  it's alarming to consider how the seafront would look today. It's worth one final mention that so far this year, two people have fallen victim to these stormy seas, the most recent only a few days ago. I fear there's a general tendency to forget - or to take for granted - just how quickly a strong surf can take a life.

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