I found this story in a very early journal of Godfrey’s, marked with a crumbling piece of seaweed. In the golden years of backpacking, he often tramped with friends, parted, may or may never see them again. The girl from Coff’s Harbor is a mystery, perhaps the one who took the photo of a photo of a painting of Godfrey that Beatrice treasures…perhaps she will read this, I hope she will.
At first, all he knew of her, was that she came from Coff’s Harbor. Pitched her tent a stroll over from Godfrey’s tent, on the sands of Bark Bay. A tramper, he could tell, by her brown muddy boots, she was from Coff’s Harbor far away.
“A charmer, Quixotic, somewhat oddly romantic I found Godfrey, we did not talk as we walked but after long cooling swim at heat of the day, he listened as I told him of my home in Coff’s Harbor, talked late under the moonlight over lovely Bark Bay”. “He was from Wales, called a” border less whirled” his home. “Silhouetted by orange cream sunrise he stood, surf casting for snapper, waist deep in the foam. Fried crisp over the fire, fresh from the sea, he shared his breakfast with me- near caught my wild heart, did this vagabond, Godfrey.
It’s a lovely tramp, gentle coast about, from high Holy Oak clearing, steep down to the tea tree, the girl from Coff’s Harbor, called the plaid he wore, “Dignified Horse Ferry Check”. Made inside him laugh, won the good heart of young vagabond Godfrey.
From Marahau, Torrent Bay, the wide estuary, slippery crossing, wet to the knee, through the spooky gloom of Tonga quarry, the heat of Goat Beach, tramped in rain all the long way to Whariwharangi. “Be still”, the girl from Coff’s Harbor taught me, as deep in a Punga Fern glade, down came the wee Fantails to perch on our boots, as rested we did to, in the damp shade.
No water taxis back then, no racket of motors to disturb the birdsong. No cigarette butts on the trails, no rubbish human to be seen, time did not matter in this world washed clean, save the will of the tide. We nattered our teeth when we knelt to drink, from cold, sweet streams tumbling down the track side.
“Seven days, wrote Godfrey, we traversed together, mud, sand-flies, cold nights or foul weather, nothing bothered the bold girl, came from Coff’s Harbor.”
And round our last fire, we sang a bush ballad. “Oft dismissed as doggerel, by toffs in my country”. “I shall visit Wales, on my journey said she, sing a ballad for your land of castle and valley”. “You raced me up mountains, introduced me to “Vegemite” (She carried a large jar). “When I see the Southern Cross, or read of a brave sailor, I will oft wonder where you are..near nicked my wild heart, did the girl on the road ,I met long ago, from Coff’s Harbor”.