They Will Never Find Me


I was one of those sun-struck kids, scurrying around in frilly cotton bathers, sucking technicolour icy-poles and tearing into hot bread. It was the most wonderful time ever; lost in freedom, the future quite meaningless. Everyone felt a wild release from the sweaty city. Thinking of the return trip in a cranky car (being bull-whipped in the face by searing breezes as you drooped your head out of the window) made you want to stretch out every moment. One year we were lucky enough to holiday at the creaky Brighton Hotel, which was almost as scintillating as Casablanca. A necklace of glass beads, a tumbler of ginger ale and mother's flamenco red lipstick transformed me into a Starlet. In a glissando of rapture my cousin and I ran across the moonlit beach, faking an ebb-tide romance. We revelled in clear nights under weak yellow lights and genuinely hoped we would never have to go back to reality. They were undemanding times.

Much further back in Mandurah's history, we can delve into some bristling accounts of ghosts from the foundation days. Handwritten details of shipwrecks and bodies shredded on the reef send a voltage through your marrow. There are tales that fade timid cheeks, pricking you into an eerie awareness. This idyllic place is shared with vibrations unseen.

I had heard of an elderly woman boarding at the old Peninsular Hotel, who vanished from her blood-splashed room. Intriguing. The Peninsular stands on curvaceous, lawn coastline fingering into the sea. Sections have been tacked on and pulled down over the years, giving it a jokey, cardboard facade.

Toasting for adventure, I lingered over the grounds, knowing others from the departed realm desired to be noticed. A toad-faced man sat on a short, disintegrating pier, gulping wine and spitting out sea-shanties. Later, I found out he had been knifed to his end by a jealous wife in a fierce argument.


by Dianthe Bells