Categories
Odds and Ends Travels

Monash Light

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.

20190622_123607.jpg
Looking down the track to Port Phillip Bay. Can you see the marker right on the shore line? That’s the one the sailors lined up with the Monash Light.

 

 

The big attraction is the view from the tower ~ 360 degrees.

20190622_123850-1

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.)

20190622_122600
There are wave buoys out there somewhere!

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.

20190622_122511.jpg

20190622_121955
Those building beyond the trees are the Quarantine Station. Can you see the two ferries and a ship on the Bay?

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.

20190622_122533
That’s Point Lonsdale lighthouse way off in the distance.

 

 

Categories
Melbourne Odds and Ends Travels

My new love affair with Port Phillip Bay

I grew up in Brighton, a bayside suburb. I would like to say that the beach was a big part of my life, but I can’t. We lived about 3 miles away, almost as far away as you can get and still be in Brighton. I was never much of a swimmer, and am even less of one now.

It was a part of my childhood. We would head down to the beach after a hot day at school. My memory is that we would arrive about the same time as the cool change would blow in! Often we would swim in the Brighton Beach Baths, a stretch of sand and water enclosed by iron railings. Like a swimming pool, but with sea water and waves. There’s a smell that always takes me back to the changing rooms. I guess many people were happy to pay for the diving board at the deep end. For me, I was, and still am, happy to meander along the shore line, paddling, looking, picking up shells.

Brighton Beach is one of the long sandy beaches that circle Port Phillip Bay. The Bay is wide and flat, the waves gentle. It has always been one of the backdrops to my life, but never something I really thought much about.

Until I came down here to Portsea. Now I have fallen in love. As I have said many times, I am fascinated with the play of light across the stretch of water I can see from my studio. The water can be pure silver or a series of sparkles or deep blue as the wind whips up the white caps. The clouds throw shadows onto it. At sunset it turns pink and grey. Sometimes I can see clearly right across to Queenscliff, but when the rain comes in, I can’t see very far at all.

I am captivated by its moods.

20190612_165707

Beauty is a great beginning for a love affair, but intrigue is important too. I am intrigued by the Bay’s geological history.

Wikipedia says this about its formation

Port Phillip formed between the end of the last Ice Age around 8000 BCE and around 6000 BCE,[2] when the sea-level rose to drown what was then the lower reaches of the Yarra River, vast river plains, wetlands and lakes. The Yarra and other tributaries flowed down what is now the middle of the bay, formed a lake in the southern reaches of the bay, dammed by The Heads, subsequently pouring out into Bass Strait.[3]

Indigenous people were living here then. They have been here for at least 20,000 years, and probably twice or even three times that long. Before it filled, the Boonwurrung would have hunted kangaroo and cultivated the yam daisy on the plains. It is quite mind-blowing to know that people witnessed the formation of Nairm, as the Boonwurrung people knew the bay.

In fact they have seen the water dry up too. About 2,800 years ago the Heads, the small opening at the southern end of the Bay, closed. The basin, which is fairly shallow, dried up. Good hunting ground again. However, about 1,000 years ago the ocean broke through and water cascaded in. It is thought that water levels would have risen quickly.

The Boonwurrung remember the event through their story, and have passed it down to the current generation. You can read Aunty Carolyn Brigg’s telling here. If you are interested in reading more about the Boonwurrung, jump over to their website.

Before I move on, let me acknowledge that I live on Aboriginal land, of the Boonwurrung people of the Kulin Nation. As I walk this land I pay my respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging, and hope that I walk with an open heart and an open mind.

Even now there are many sand bars and shallow channels at the entrance to the Bay. Ships require a pilot to guide them in and out of the Heads, and to set them onto the shipping channel that will give them safe passage to Melbourne. The channel runs close to Portsea, and seeing the big ships glide by enthrals me.

20190616_153507

I love to watch the ferries ply between Sorrento and Queenscliff. They leave on the hour, and usually come into my view after about 25 minutes. So who needs a clock when you have the ferries?

20190610_111912-1.jpg

This body of water, that seemed so mundane in my childhood, has a rich history. It has sculpted the rocks that I am fascinated with, and is home to the weedy sea dragon, one of my all time favourite creatures. To see one in the wild is up there on my list of Things That Would Make Me Very Happy.  This one is cruising under the Portsea pier. I always look when I walk the pier.

I am not sure that I want to see the mass migration of spider crabs, but it is the biggest migration in the marine world, and it happens in the Bay. As it occurs in early winter,  it might be happening right now, by the light of the full moon.

Often we need to see the ordinary from a different point. Once we see the extraordinary we are more likely to treasure it. What do you see from a different point of view?

[Don’t forget you can see my daily doings on Instagram or Facebook. It’s more than my daily latte, I promise!]

 

Categories
anne4bags Botanic Art My art work

Shells

It is a little while since I have posted anything about my art work, but I have been busy painting. I am intending to put a painting into an exhibition coming up in October. It has the title “From forest to foreshore”, and I was inspired by my recent get away in  Portarlington. The beach was a treasure trove for a beachcomber like me, so my painting is to be called ‘Portarlington Treasures’.

However, I have lots to learn about painting the treasures I want to include — so lots of studies. Unlike writing on the computer, there is no delete button on a lovely piece of watercolour paper. And no way to paint over it as you can with oils and acrylics. I didn’t want to be working on the final piece, panicking because I didn’t know how to go about painting seaweed or shells.

Before I start to paint something I look at it closely. Where does the light fall? Where are the shadows? Is there a hint of shadow there? Reflected light? What colours can I see?

But the most important question is what attracts me to this? I try to keep this in my mind as work.

Firstly I studied shell fragments. Scallop fishing is a big industry in Port Phillip Bay and the beach was littered with them. I did some quick studies while I was in the caravan. They helped me to realise the importance of the shadows.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

sc00a8336f01At home I set up the shells, having decided on the front and back of the two halves. Then thought about my approach.  I loved the rich colours, and the shadows. I played about with different mixes, settling on Olive Green and Windsor Red. Adding Naples Yellow at times would give me the opaque look some parts needed.

The quick study also told me that the growth lines of the shells were really important to give shape and structure.

This is the finished work.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

And the two halves

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

I was very happy with the work. (It sold within a few hours in my Etsy shop!) However, I have noted things that I have to be careful of when doing the good one. I know I haven’t really resolved the area where the ridges of the shells meet at the bottom. The shadow is not right in places; neither is the white line in on the left hand one.

Also, I wanted to try a different method, using masking fluid. More of that next time.

Categories
Melbourne Travels

Portarlington with Alice

The Fella and I decided to go away in Alice the Caravan — down the Geelong Rd, through Geelong, down to Portarlington. In the non-summer months it is a little town on the beach of Port Phillip Bay. In summer the numbers swell. Apparently there are 5,000 residents a night at the caravan park in January! How nice to only have us and a handful of others when we were away.

For readers unfamiliar with my part of the world, I need to divert to a quick geography lesson — made easier, I hope, with a map! Hopefully an understanding will make my photos a bit more interesting.

Yep, when I was a girl I much preferred to colour in my maps for Geography than do my Maths homework! (Map and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)
Yep, when I was a girl I much preferred to colour in my maps for Geography than do my Maths homework! (Map and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

Melbourne is situated on Port Phillip Bay, a very large body of water. Melbourne curves around its edges on the eastern side, while the western side leads to Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city. Beyond Geelong is the Bellarine Peninsula, where Portarlington is. The Bay is nearly enclosed, with only a very narrow opening at the Heads. On the western side is Queenscliff and on the eastern is Point Nepean; out through the Heads is Bass Strait.

Once we had Alice bedded down in the caravan park we wandered off to explore. There is a spot in Queenscliff, just past the fort, where you can watch the boats come through the Heads. Unfortunately, there weren’t any sailing past when we were there 😦 However, we did lunch on very yummy hamburgers with the lot!

I love this sign post -- complete with seagull! Point Nepean is the headland you can see on the other side of the Rip. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
I love this sign post — complete with seagull! Point Nepean is the headland you can see on the other side of the Rip, only 3.1 km away. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
the Rip is extrememely treacherous water, and this photo shows how the currents create rips and undertows. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
The Rip is extrememely treacherous water, and this photo shows how the currents create rips and undertows. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

This narrow, rocky opening is very difficult for ships to navigate successfully. Each one has to be escorted in and out by a pilot who knows the waters, hence the plaque dedicated to them.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

Of course, there is a lighthouse at Queenscliff.

Queenscliff lighthouse (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Queenscliff lighthouse (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

We also wandered to Barwon Heads, where the Barwon River enters the sea. The bridge there is fabulous, really old style.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

The beach at Portarlington was heaven for a beachcomber like me. It is not very big, but so many shells and feathers, even a couple of sea urchin shells. I was never sure whether to look at the sand at my feet or the views across the Bay! As the caravan park is right on the beach I was able to wander at will.

The Portarlington jetty would be a perfect habitat for weedy seadragons. I looked hard, but couldn’t see any. I am sure that they must have been there, quietly wafting their way through the seaweed, talking to the starfish.

The weather turned when we were there and our last morning was showery and blustery. These photos were taken as we were leaving to head home.

Looking to the Portarlington Jetty (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Looking to the Portarlington Jetty (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
The high rise building of Melbourne, across the showery Bay. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
The high rise building of Melbourne, across the showery Bay. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Across the Bay to the You Yangs (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Across the Bay to the You Yangs (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)