"We are not sea people by way of being great mariners, but more of a coastal people, content on the edge of things. We live by the sea not simply because it is more pleasant to be a lazy nation, but because of the two mysteries the sea is more forthcoming; its miracles and wonders are occasionally more palpable, however inexplicable they be. There is more bounty, more possibility for us in a vista that moves, rolls, surges, twists, rears up and changes from minute to minute. The innate human feeling from the veranda is that if you look out to sea long enough, something will turn up... The beach, in Australia, is the landscape equivalent of the veranda, a veranda at the edge of the continent."
"The western summer is ruled by the wind. Here the wind is a despot. It rushes off the land before dawn, ploughing out into the sea, full of wheat dust and pollen, crashing at the curtains and rattling every loose sheet of tin, warm and unrelenting. It heats up with the coming of day, an allergenic blast that scorches flat everything in its path."
"I just sit here and tell the story as though I can't help it. There's always something in the day that reminds me, that sets me off all hot and guilty and scared and rambling and wistful, like I am now."
"It's terrifying to think you can remember things you shouldn't possibly be able to. It's like that childhood fear of having your soul slip from your body in your sleep. The darkness, those black sheets of glass sliding over you, upping the pressure, pushing you through the time and space and story."
"Surfing and diving became a necessary escape. They burned off dangerous energy and gave me a great release from the entanglements of school, family, the agonies of love and loyalty. I was unsociable but not quite antisocial."
"I love the sea but it does not love me. The sea is like a desert in that it is quite rightly feared. The sea and the desert are both hungry, they have things to be getting on with so you do not go into them lightly."
"It's the pointless things that give your life meaning. Friendship, compassion, art, love. All of them pointless. But they're what keeps life from being meaningless. "
"I don't believe there's anything cosmic or divine or morally superior about whales and dolphins or sharks or trees, but I do think that everything that lives is holy and somehow integrated; and on cloudy days I suspect that these extraordinary phenomena, and the hundreds of tiny, modest versions no one hears about, are an ocean, an earth, a Creator, something shaking us by the collar, demanding our attention, our fear, our vigilance, our respect, our help."
"Writing a book is a bit like surfing. Most of the time you're waiting. And it's quite pleasant, sitting in the water waiting. But you are expecting that the result of a storm over the horizon, in another time zone, usually, days old, will radiate out in the form of waves. And eventually, when they show up, you turn around and ride that energy to the shore. It's a lovely thing, feeling that momentum. If you're lucky, it's also about grace. As a writer, you roll up to the desk every day, and then you sit there, waiting, in the hope that something will come over the horizon. And then you turn around and ride it, in the form of a story. "
"Hunting and gathering are in my blood. But I've lived long enough to witness a diminution in the seas, and to notice a fragility where once I saw - or assumed - an endless bounty."
"Yet however comforting and peaceful beach-combing is, it ends up like the sea, as disturbing as it is reassuring. In dark moments I believe that walking on a beach at low tide is to be looking for death, or at least anticipating it. You will only find the dead, the spilled and the cast-off. Things torn free of their life or their place."
"Ah, but you, Darkness, you know all this. I tell you night after night. Nothing will shock you. Maybe I go on at you in the hope that there's something beyond you. Some nights I sit here and talk and sob and stare out into the blackness thinking that if I look hard enough I'll see the light behind. But I stay out until the break of day, waiting, hoping, and there's only sunrise again."
"The night is full of stories. They float up like miasmas, as though the dead leave their dreams in the earth where you bury them, only to have them rise to meet you in sleep. Mostly the scenes are familiar, but sometimes everything is strange, the people unknown."
"There is nowhere else I'd rather be, nothing else I would prefer to be doing. I am at the beach looking west with the continent behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea. I have my bearings."
"The desert is a spiritual place, we vaguely understand, and the sea the mere playground of our hedonism."
"The sea got me through adolescence, pure and simple. I was loved and supported, maybe indulged by my parents as a teenager, but I fairly burned with turmoil. I was frustrated, impatient, confused, angry. From thirteen to eighteen it was a tyranny of hormones - what a republic that was!"
"On a summer's morning the sea smells of the land and the dunes become airborne. Sand falls far out beyond the smoke of the bushfires to become haze in the water, a puzzlement to fish."
"When you're surfing you're not thinking about where you parked the car or what you're going to do when you grow up or what you're going to buy when you've got lots of money. You know, you're just there. You're in the moment. And I think in a contemporary world, that's a rare privilege. "
"It's dark already and I'm out here again, talking, telling the story to the quiet night. "
"The ocean is a supreme metaphor for change. I expect the unexpected but am never fully prepared."
"It's impossible to imagine what Australia would be like without surfing. "
"The teenager is a fascist and a fool as well as a seer."
"The beachcomber goes looking for trouble, everything he finds is a sign of trouble. The writer is the same; without trouble he has nothing to work with, so he picks over the tide line, over the bits and pieces of people's lives with grim fascination."
"People do change - individuals, families, nations - and the pace of transformation need not be geological."
"I liked books - the respite and privacy of them - books about plants and the formation of ice and the business of world wars. Whenever I sank into them I felt free. "
"For every moment the sea is peace and relief, there is another when it shivers and stirs to become chaos. It's just as ready to claim as it is to offer."
"Everything we do in this country is still overborne and underwritten by the seething tumult of nature."