The Bird-god temple

There were a few favours asked during the 2 years that we worked on the book. One of these involved an early morning start with my friend, Gavin Olson, to get a closer look at a structure that sits in plain view of tens of thousands of motorists on the Northwestern Motorway every day. On the same jaunt, we were able to land on Pollen Island (the large area of mangroves and shell banks that lies between the motorway and the harbour) to get photos of an enigmatic rectangle of low, ‘shell-concrete’ walls (concrete in which the aggregate is entirely shell) that sits out in the middle of this wild expanse of mangroves).

I have admired this set of poles and rungs for years, as an abstract form in the middle of the harbour, and both David and I independently considered it to be a necessary image for the book. This assemblage of poles fits the description of a type of structure known as ‘dolphins’ – freestanding moorings (in this case) that provide a point for boats to moor themselves to away from the shoreline. It is unclear what kind of a vessel they were built for (perhaps a barge), as I have never seen them in use. As we approached them, shags alighted upon their frame, leading us to refer to this peculiar structure henceforth as the Bird-god temple.