Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mornington Peninsula

Unable to make up my mind as to where I wanted to ride, at the last moment I decided to take the opposite direction to usual and head south down the Mornington Peninsula.

I rarely ride down there for several reasons. It's a long trip through endless suburbs - I like heading north because it means a quick exit out of the city. Also, it is a peninsula and so there is not much land down there - I cannot shoot off into a different region at whim. Further, my suspicions were confirmed today: it is one endless suburb as far as the bayside of the peninsula goes - unending traffic and speeds at 60kph. To a person who is used to real country, there are no lonely places on the peninsula.

The place is however pretty. It has that seaside carnival feeling even in winter.

And there are some fabulous old limestone buildings - churches, pubs, cottages - the further along you get to Sorrento. I did not look about, but would happily come down by car and spend an afternoon exploring in comfortable clothes and walking shoes.

On the ocean side of the peninsula the water is wild, the landscape less populated - there are national parks along the coast, with sand dunes and salty windblown scrub which drop away from high cliffs.

I stopped at Cape Schanck Lighthouse.

Despite the warnings against swimming in the dangerous currents, and despite the freezing temperatures, boys in their early teens took to the water. Watching those teenagers distinguish themselves from each other according to 'bravado versus fear/common sense' - as first one, then another, pushed himself far out into the surf while his mates gave in and watched from the shallows - I was reminded of Tim Winton's recent novel Breath:

"As young kids they would dive into the river and and hang on tight to tree roots until they saw spots. As adolescents they graduate from the river to the surf along the wild Western Australian coast and discover a new kind of danger. Out in the ocean they feel truly free, even immortal, as they take greater and greater risks in the water.

This is a story about the damage you do to yourself when you're young and think you're immortal.

Along the shore the older men, who have survived those years, fished and watched.

Not only the lighthouse and the cottages, but the paddocks themselves have a 19th century glow about them, as though the salty spray is warm with sheep and scones.

I rode thence to Flinders, Shoreham, then up Arthur's Seat, a popular road for motorcycling because of it's twistie descent. Apparently there used to be a private but well-known challenge among riders, to see who who make the fastest time down the mountain - an endless squirming of hair-pin bends - with engine off and without once touching the brakes.

From atop the lookout I viewed Rosebud, before heading home.

This week saw the one year anniversary of this blog. My first post was June 29th, 2009. I have had a couple of different hit counters in that time, recording upwards of 5000 hits so far. I do not know who many of you are, but thank you for reading it. The writing gives me a lot of pleasure. And I get to look back and relive my rides - the best days of my life over the last year.

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