this is where I eat humble pie …
… and say sorry for every occasion on which I have been a bit dismissive – alright, downright sneering – about the beaches of Port Phillip Bay. I’m truly sorry.
Today I have been forced to eat almost every harsh word I’ve ever uttered regarding the rights of Victoria to claim that there’s lovely swimming to be had in Port Phillip Bay. Yes, I’m prepared to admit that we have just had the best summer’s day I have ever had in Melbourne – it FELT like summer – it LOOKED like summer – it TASTED like summer and it was spent on Birdrock Beach, Mt. Martha.
This greeted us from the top of the wooden stairs that tilt one way then the other, down, down, down the steep, fire red cliff.
Under the shadows of thickly canopied trees, through patches of brilliant sunlight …
… until we reached this. Oh my. My heart was all aflutter. My eyes open wide with delight. A huge grin on my face. This is our fourth year in Melbourne. How did we miss THIS! A hasty camp was established under the only bit of shade on the beach and a picnic lunch quickly gobbled before we hit the water.
A bit tentatively at first. After all – this bay is fed by the Bass Strait and Great Southern Ocean – warm currents are likely only to be enjoyed if you – or someone nearby – spend a penny! But – the weather here in Melbourne at the moment is frightful – another day over 36 – so that cold water felt utterly delightful, and Abby and I squiggled into our swimmers as quick as could be.
This being Rina’s first ever trip to the beach – first time she had ever stood on the sand and let little waves ripple over her feet – amazing! – she decided to stick to paddling and photos.
Ahhhhh folks. I have never felt so at home down here. At first, you must pick your way across a very rubbly section – next time I will certainly bring some old rubber soled sneakers. Then – you think you’re going to hit a lovely patch of sand – ’cause you can see its soft creamy smoothness through the sparkling water. But when you get there – it’s ROCK – smooth, velvety, sand-coloured rock. And the water’s still only up to your thighs. Any deeper demanded the tricksy navigation of more rubble. So there I stayed – bobbing – floating – allowing all the heat that has been building up in my body this week, to slip away. It was so good.
Little waves plinked and plonked around my body as they hurried into the shore, sounding like a delicate xylophone. Laughter and jesting floated over to me from a small group playing frisbee in the water. Out in front of me, a trio of young men scampered across the rocks for which the beach is named, looking all the world for like they were walking on water. Around them, the rocks’ regular inhabitants – the sea birds – were fluttering and strutting. The deeper blue waters were filled with small darting yachts – in neat rows, they flitted in and out between vivid orange buoys.
My fingers and toes turned to prunes. I caught myself absent-mindedly sucking the salt from the end of my plait as I did when I was little. If only we could have set up a wee wooden caravan there on the edge – something quaint and old fashioned, stocked with wonderful books, thin cotton sheets, soft pillows, yummy food, and cold drinks – we could stay for the next week, swimming for hours, pushing that nasty heat wave away with our cool, shrivelled, salty hands. Oh can you imagine how utterly blissful that would be. Bugger school! Bugger university! Bugger work! I think that if the temperature is over 35 – then it MUST be the summer holidays, regardless of what the calendar says.
And what a treat being able to share it with Rina. In a usual March, we would have been driving up into the mountains to admire the trees’ autumn finery, wander the lake’s edge at Daylesford, hunt for mushrooms in the forest. Not this year. Rina was enchanted.
However, all good things come to and end. Eventually we had to brave those stairs – this time, trudging up and up and up through wilting steaminess. Every time we turned back to the sea we wailed! We would need another swim to cool off by the time we reached the top. It seems to me there’s something not working quite right with this arrangement.
On the way home we stopped for icecream at Chill – Mt. Martha’s Gelati Bar – highly recommended …
… stopped for a super quick play on this ship – I was waiting for it to sprout leaves a’la Quentin Blake’s divine book “The Green Ship” …
… and made our final stop for the day here …
… why yes, this truly bizarre sight is real. That’s why I snuck a photo. CPR dummies under the trees in Frankston. First time I’ve ever played this game on my way home from the beach. However, I’m not complaining – if I hadn’t had to be in Frankston at 5 pm to spend half an hour pumping their flaccid chests for thirty counts before pushing two breaths into their funny little mouths – over and over again – we would never have made our way to Birdrock Beach.
And you thought I would once more try to end my post with some meaningful and poetic words – ha!