We drove down to the Gold Coast today to meet a friend at the beach. On the way down the motorway, I noticed that my car was buffeted by strong winds, but I didn’t think anything further about it at the time.

Later, while chatting with J in her holiday accommodation, we started to notice that the sky was dulling as dust filled the air. A great dust storm has been moving north across the eastern seaboard of Australia, and although it had cloaked Sydney just this morning, by noon it was already up in Queensland, 660 km away!

J and I walked our combined five children across the esplanade to a little beach on the protected waters of the Gold Coast Broadwater. A weather warning must have gone out, preventing most boats from taking to the water, so there was very little sea traffic to wash waves onto the shore, and soon none at all.

J, September 2009
It was wonderful to spend time catching up with J.

The kids enjoyed digging in the sand and wading into the water as the day was quite warm, ideal for the beach, really. As time passed, we gradually lost sight of South Stradbroke Island across the Broadwater, and the sun was so dull that Calista pointed to it and called it “moon”.

S, 4yo, September 2009
Colourful S, contrasted against the dust storm.

Calista, 17 months old, September 2009
Cali loved playing in and out of the water (until she went in too deep and got very wet).

Brioni, 3yo, September 2009
Brioni was another one who loved the water. She walked in until she was waist-deep and waded up and down the beach.

Calista, 17 months old, Aisha, 4yo, + S, 4yo, September 2009
S liked playing with Calista, who is very experienced in complying with older girls' games.

After saying goodbye to J and her two kids, I drove a bit further south to see the Surfers Paradise skyline in the dust storm. There wasn’t much to see, as shown below. (In case you’ve forgotten, here’s what the Surfers Paradise skyline usually looks like when snapped by an amateur.)

Surfers Paradise in dust storm, September 2009
The dust obscured most of the Gold Coast's skyline, leaving only a few apartments rising out of the gloom.