12.01.2014

Point Lonsdale

It would be hard to find a more awesome place in the world than Point Lonsdale Australia on the Bellarine Peninsula in early summer (southern hemisphere). I am a bit biased because I spent some excellent time here in my youth. My dad inherited a vacation property in Pt Lonsdale, which belonged to my paternal (Australian) gramma, when she died in the mid 80s. My dad held onto it for a few years and had a property manager in Pt Lonsdale rent it out, but it eventually fell into disrepair. About nine years ago, he sold the property at auction and made pretty good bank on it, because over the years since my Australian grampa (who I never met) built the house in the 50s (when Pt Lonsdale was barely developed) until the mid 2000s, Pt Lonsdale became somewhat of a resort tourist attraction and property values had exploded. The profit my dad made on the sale sat in an Australian bank for the past nine years accruing interest, and a fair chunk of the interest cash was used to underwrite this current Australia trip. So it is a once in a lifetime dream vacation to come back here and it might not happen again, depending on how the investment does.

However, perfect weather also contributed to today's specific awesomeness - sunny and about 85 degrees in the sun, but cooled deliciously by a sea breeze of perhaps 65 degrees, averaging things out to about 75 glorious degrees. I would give you the temperature in Celsius, since I am in Australia, but my brain is far too mushy and relaxed for that right now.

Pt Lonsdale overlooks the Rip, the narrow opening into Port Phillip Bay from the Bass Strait that lies between Australia and Tasmania, and the only access to Melbourne by sea. It's a rather violent place because the tides, currents, and prevailing winds are not always in harmony there. As the tide comes in, sea water from the Bass Strait is pushed into the Rip and the tide within Port Phillip Bay lags a little bit behind the tide in the sea outside it because of this filling and emptying through a narrow gap between the Heads (the points at the ends of the Bellarine and Nepean peninsulas that form the boundaries of the Rip, of which Pt Lonsdale is one point and Portsea is the other, respectively). So when the tide in the Bass Strait changes direction, it resists the flow of Port Phillip water in and out of the Rip, causing churning seas. Add in the ocean winds that generate large swells, and the Rip gets pretty awesome, where awesome means crazy waves and whitecaps and swells and churning currents. It's actually quite a surfer's paradise just inside the Rip along the inner shore of Pt Lonsdale and we saw some surfers today.

There are shipping channels in the Rip where large tanker and passenger ships come through to get to Melbourne, Geelong, and other places within Port Phillip Bay. Because of the violent waters, pilot boats guide the big ships in along the correct routes so they don't shipwreck on the surrounding reefs. Even so, some ships still biff. Today we saw a Chinese cargo ship approaching the Rip circle back around and try again before it got it right on the second run. There is a lighthouse at Pt Lonsdale, though I am not sure if it is still used...more of a tourist attraction.

This morning, we woke up in Cowes on Phillip Island, in the Bass Strait east of Port Phillip Bay. We drove the rental minivan about two hours through Gippsland and along the Nepean Peninsula to Sorrento, where we boarded a car ferry over to Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula, about five miles from Pt Lonsdale. For the historical benefit of my niece and nephew (who probably didn't give two shits between them), we drove past the old property on Fellows Road in Pt Lonsdale to see what the new owners had done with it. They had remodeled a lot, but the basic structure was still there. We thought they might have torn it down because the prior structure was so run down. But they didn't. I deduced that perhaps the new owners were in construction, as suggested by the utility truck parked outside it.

We made our way to the Pt Lonsdale guest house where we are staying, to unload. I took a quick dunk in their solar heated pool to cool off and freshen up a bit, after the long drive, though I smelled of chlorine afterwards. We were only supposed to stay here one night, but my family is road weary and they decided to book a second night here and cancel our planned trip to Ballarat tomorrow to avoid more driving. That will be superb to chill here longer. It is quite relaxing watching and listening to the surf in the Rip. I could be happy doing only that but I am sure we will do other stuff too.

We walked down to the Rip where my sister let my niece and nephew play in the surf, dangerous riptides notwithstanding, while my folks and I walked down the Pt Lonsdale pier and jawed with fishermen about their catches. Then we walked along the cliffside path to Pt Lonsdale's main street. I had a hankering for fish and chips, so we went to a fish and chippery. It wasn't the wisest choice because the wait was long, but once we got it, my folks and I enjoyed the meal together at a picnic table beside the ocean, before walking back to the hotel to chill. I took a shower and I am now so chillaxed I can barely stay awake to finish this post.

I may walk the six mile round trip to Queenscliff tomorrow to burn off the fish and chips calories. My dad and I did this kind of by accident nine years ago when we were here to determine what to do with the Pt Lonsdale property.

Enjoy the few pictures.

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