A Renewal of Vows - at the Beach

The last Saturday of the “Old Year” was chosen as the ideal time for Katrina and Brett to celebrate their marriage with a renewal of vows. Ideal because family and friends were all assembled together at Indented Head on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria Everybody was in holiday mode. as they usually are at this festive time of year, spending a couple of weeks relaxing in a beachside camping ground on Victoria's Port Phillip Bay. It was the perfect time for a special family celebration.

Batman Park is the name of the area, named after John Batman who camped here when his party of settlers first came ashore in 1835. His landing at that time was the beginning of what is now the state of Victoria , but little could Batman have then envisaged the scene which confronted us all on this glorious Saturday afternoon in December of 2006.

The weather was perfect, blue skies, sunny with no cloud and a light breeze, warm enough for all beach activities without being too hot. Kids were laughing whilst running on the sand and splashing in the shallows, small watercraft ran about on the bay, some fishing further out in deeper waters - just people in holiday mode indulging in their favourite holiday pastimes.

The coastal setting vista was completed by the wreck of the old “Ozone” paddle steamer which was beached here when it caught fire in 1926. Today not very much is left of the wreck other than a large round paddle which protrudes above the waterline just 50 metres from shore, a visual feature which captures the visitor's eye.

Katrina and Brett, who live in Broken Hill, travel almost 900 kilometres from inland NSW each year to renew their energies at this seaside location, a rare opportunity to relax at the close of another busy year. Since she was a small child, Katrina's parents and grandparents came to this spot each year, so she and Brett are now keen to maintain the family tradition, and they delight in seeing their children enjoying this touch of Shangri-La in their lives. This year they decided not only to renew their energies, but also to renew their marriage vows – a renewal of their marital energies perhaps?

Caravans and tents parked side by side created a community atmosphere. They also provided an uninvited but welcome audience of interested holidaymakers who sat about and watched the activities taking place as the scene was prepared in readiness for the ceremony and celebrations to follow. A small marquee had been erected, tables and chairs were set up to provide for the group lunch which was to follow the ceremony. “Eskies” were in abundance, containing food and drinks prepared for the occasion. Music was playing softly and helped to establish the mood. The “groom” was busy organising people as we waited for the “bride” to arrive.

The appointed time for the event to begin was 1pm, and it was not long after that when a small motor launch carrying the “bride” arrived from nearby St Leonards. The vessel coasted in to the shallows, and Brett waded out from shore in his knee length pants to lift Katrina from the launch and carry her to the shoreline. They then walked hand-in-hand across the beach and up the rise to where the celebrant and invited guests eagerly awaited.

The ceremony proceeded in a rather informal fashion involving all of the family of seven - the couple and their five children standing together, with each parent holding a small child. The celebrant, my wife Anne Cowden, told the assembly of the background to the occasion. The oldest daughter, Chelsea, now fourteen, touchingly read some verse - which she had composed herself - as a tribute to her parents. The couple then renewed their vows, with a rose ceremony involving an exchange of yellow roses being the focus of the event. The yellow roses were chosen especially because they were Katrina's late grandmother's favourite flower. Brett was touched when, to his total surprise during the ceremony, Katrina presented him with a pair of cuff links which had belonged to her late grandfather. So both of Katrina's grandparents, who had originally discovered this perfect family holiday location, were remembered in a very special way. The ceremony was completed with Brett and Katrina signing a certificate of renewal, accompanied by very enthusiastic applause from all present, whilst many photographs were taken..

This ceremony was a very special part of the latest family holiday, to be fondly remembered by all present when they returned to their regular working lives so far away from the seaside in the famous old mining town of Broken Hill.

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Peter Cowden
'The Celebrant’s Roadie'

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