One of the delights of being at Point Nepean, or Mon Mon as the Boon Wurrung people call it, is the abundance of walks.
If you receive my newsletter, which I have been sending out weekly while I am down here, you may remember me talking about walking Wilson’s Folly, a track between London Bridge and Police Point. (If you would like to get the letter from my studio just jump to here to sign up.)
The other day we went on another good walk, to the Monash Light. If you are ever down this way ~ and wouldn’t it be something if you could visit here? ~ you would like this walk. It’s not difficult, with a couple of steepish hills and lots of steps up the tower, which are good to get the heart rate up and the gluts working! Mostly you walk through lovely moonah habitat on a soft, sandy track.
The big attraction is the view from the tower ~ 360 degrees.
The Monash Light was a navigation beacon on the Monash Tower, which is on the highest point of the national park. It was erected in 1932 and extinguished for the last time in 2005. The Light played a key role in the safety of ships in Port Phillip Bay. The entrance to the Bay, the Heads, is only 3 kilometres wide and reefs reduce the navigable channel to just one kilometre. Just inside the Heads are extensive sand banks, called ‘The Great Sands’ (well named!).
Matthew Flinders explored the area and wrote:
“The depth of the remaining part varies from six to twelve fathoms and this irregularity causes strong tides, especially when running against the wind, to make breakers, in which small vessels should be careful of engaging themselves”
So whatever aids ships could use was very welcomed. The Monash Light was a ‘leading light’, which is, I guess where the expression comes from. The light was lined up with another marker on the shore for ships to navigate the channel safely.
The Light is now used as a receiving station for wave buoys in Bass Strait. (Don’t ask what ‘wave buoys’ do….although any thoughts welcomed in the comments.)
Lastly, while I am lecturing you, let me tell you why it is named Monash Light. Most Australians would have heard of Sir John Monash, the esteemed Commander of the Australian Armed forces in WW1. His victories, which were the turning points of the war, were based on planning, integration of all available resources and a belief that he had a duty to the safety and well being of his men. Apparently Monash was the Commanding Officer at Point Nepean between 1897 and 1908.
However, if neither maritime nor military history is your thing, just enjoy the views.
Of course, I loved the textures and patterns of the windswept vegetation. I think I will be creating a tapestry or two from this landscape.