Every year on 10 March, descendants of C.Y. O’Connor, along with friends and sundry stragglers like me, gather at the beach named after him to honour the memory of Western Australia’s Engineer-in-Chief, whose visionary schemes helped to transform the colony.
On this day in 1902, The Chief—overworked and exhausted, harassed and reviled by the press, trapped in a volatile political environment—rode his horse along this beach one last time.
But today’s early-morning gathering is no sombre affair. There are conversations and stories. Laughter. Lolloping dogs. Children and irreverent seagulls. Buckets of flower petals to be strewn on the waves and carried out by swimmers to the bronze memorial statue, by sculptor Tony Jones, a hundred metres offshore.
I have brought sunflowers, for Kate—large as dinner-plates and the brilliant cadmium yellow she loved—and as I fly one like a frisbee into the Indian Ocean I hope it will travel far…