I was on my own on Christmas Day, my wife having returned to Thailand in early December after her 3 month visit visa expired. Not particularly wanting to sit in the apartment on my own like a sad bastard, I decided to take a trip to Point Nepean, the peninsula at the southern edge of Port Phillip Bay where it meets the southern ocean.
As can be seen from the map, the entrance to Port Phillip Bay is through a narrow channel only a few hundred metres wide known as The Rip (or The Heads) and I thought it would be worth going to take a look at it. I am a bit of a sucker for geographical extremes, and I like going to look at any narrow isthmuth, strait, or peninsula that happen to be in the area.
Making a packed lunch and setting off at about 10am I had the roads practically to myself, and the Google Maps app on my iPhone did a good job of talking me there. Portsea is the nearest settlement and the road continues as far as a place called Gunner’s Cottage where there is a car park and not much else. From there, hiking and cycling trails take you about 2 miles to the end of the peninsular. There is a paved road, which I walked along on the way back, but it’s closed to ordinary traffic. But on the way out, I walked through considerable heat albeit with a strong breeze down extremely pretty paths like this one.
There were few people about, mainly a couple of Chinese tourists on bicycles and the occasional Australian or European. But most of the time I was completely alone. The path out ran along the Phillip Bay coast, offering the opportunity for some nice photos.
The sea was a phenomenal emerald green colour, with enormous rolling breakers smashing into the beach with a tremendous roar. Not for the first time I was impressed by the power of the southern ocean where it meets the Victorian coast. This was near the spot where the then Australian Prime Minister Howard Holt unwisely went for a swim in 1967, and went missing presumed drowned.
Eventually I could walk no further and could look across at the foaming, angry waters of The Rip and Point Lonsdale beyond. This narrow strip of water features uneven depths and strong, unpredictable currents which present considerable shipping hazards, but there is not other way into Port Phillip Bay and Melbourne docks beyond. It was beautiful, and well worth the hike out.
I walked back to the car park in a blizzard of large black flies, probably the same type which plagued the MCG the following day. I passed several people walking out, but it was still very quiet. Once I got back to the car, I drove a couple of miles to the former immigration quarantine station, which was operational recently enough to have processed refugees from the Kosovo War. I had very little interest in any of this, but the Australians understandably go in for this sort of thing far more than Brits. I stopped there merely to find a picnic table and eat my lunch.
On the drive home I went through the towns of Sorrento, Mornington, and Frankston whose beaches were filling rapidly with Australians firing up their Christmas barbecues. I have completely failed to get used to the idea of a barbecue on the beach on Christmas Day, but the scenes of hundreds of Australians enjoying themselves in the bright, warm sun did make part of me want to stop and join in.
It was an odd Christmas Day, featuring a drive and a hike to an obscure Australian peninsula, but I enjoyed myself a lot. I am fairly sure that next Christmas Day will be quite a bit different.