Currumbin Swell

Swell 2019 – Lizzie and Rose look at “Tide”, by Shirin Abedinirad

There’s a back way up Elephant Rock. My brothers and I found it when we were kids, before the concrete steps were put in, and the fenced platform on top.

“Dreadful!” said my grandmother when they did that. Gran’s house in Woodgee Street, Currumbin, had a fine view of Elephant Rock. “Absolute vandalism!” she said.

It was disappointing to us, too. All the fun of our cops and robbers games around the Rock was gone.

My grandparents’ house had a three-bedroom flat under it, and all of us cousins stayed there from time to time for holidays. There was a laneway from the house down to the beautiful, quiet beach, and we often went to swim there, or in Currumbin Creek, near the sand mining plant.

My grandmother’s house at Currumbin

At other times, we’d walk down Woodgee Street to the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary – much smaller then, with free entry. We’d go at bird feeding time and stand with tin plates of bread and honey loaded down with rainbow lorikeets, with squawking birds on our heads and shoulders and arms. You never went hatless or shirtless to feed the birds.

Con and I were back at Currumbin last Saturday. Every year in September the Swell Sculpture Festival is held along Currumbin Beach and its foreshore. Many of the pieces are designed to frame the sea and sand, and whether serious or whimsical, solid or transparent, there is a wonderful range of ingenuity and imagination on display. This is the third time we’ve gone to see the Swell sculptures.

Swell 2015
Swell 2018
Swell 2015
Swell 2018
Swell 2015

Last Saturday, we arrived in the late afternoon, and the setting sun, shining sadly through the smoke of hinterland bushfires, made everything glow.


Little Tree Frog, Jay Sikora. Swell 2019

When the full, harvest moon came up, it was red.

Lizzie and The Big Fish, Oliver Howes. Swell 2019

Swell is especially beautiful in the early evening, when most of the crowds have gone and the light is perfect. And after dark the sculptures are lit up.

My grandparents’ house has gone now, replaced by two modern houses, but that hidden lane still leads down to the beach. I bet kids still use it. They might even look at the Swell sculptures. But they’ll never have the fun we had, finding sneaky climbing routes to the top of Elephant Rock.

Although the rock itself seems to have shrunk since we were kids. It’s strange the way that happens.

GC CBD, Barbara Licha. Swell 2019

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