More news from murray bridge
by Brenton Doecke
Those hot summer days would last forever. We rode our bicycles at a furious pace down the hill from the town to the river, our voices echoing around us.
Throwing our bikes into a heap, we lined up for the big jump. Weeks before we had goaded each other on into climbing the old diving tower, from there to plunge into the green water. This was now a ritual for us. It had been Ronny who first made the jump from that height: ‘Geronimo-ooooo!’ We all had to follow suit, imitating each other’s actions, right down to the loud war cry as we entered the water. I remember how, for the first time, just after Ronny had made that crazy jump, I had stood at the top of the tower with my eyes closed, counting the moments before plunging in.
There were times when we got to the river too early, and we had to wait for the scum from the milk factory to drift downstream. But there were other moments when our impatience got the better of us, and we plunged into the water, breaking up the slimy film that had formed overnight. We left the water with oily bodies, grabbing at each other’s arms and legs, before throwing ourselves back into the river.
The name of the park was Sturt Reserve. On the 8th February, 1830, Captain Sturt and his men rowed past this very spot. On the 8th February, 1930, the citizens of Murray Bridge erected a monument to commemorate Sturt’s glorious voyage of discovery. Thirty years later, we carved our initials into the trunks of the gum trees that still stood near the memorial. Ronny climbed up on top of the cairn and pissed into the morning air. We danced beneath him, as he blessed us with golden rain. ‘Oh, you’ve pissed on us’, we cried, as we made a mad dash to the water.
Peddling furiously, down past the old timber yards, down along the road through the swamp, down past the huge granite rocks, screaming and laughing until we reached our destination, throwing our bikes into a heap, and climbing the old diving tower, when we made a ritual of jumping into the green water, and I stood counting the moments before plunging in, the long hot days stretching before us endlessly.