Scarecrows on the Mornington Peninsula

We live in the hills above Dromana beach. Higher up in the hills above where we live though is a beautiful hinterland area with lots of beautiful bush walks, many wineries, galleries and restaurants. During the September school holidays there is yet another attraction to be found up there. It’s the Mornington Peninsula Hinterland Scarecrow Festival and Trail. Lots of different artists, schools and businesses create a scarecrow which is on display for visitors to see. A map is available from the Tourist Information Centre in Dromana or at various locations around the hinterland. When we had family visit this week we decided to take them up into the hinterland for a drive and a look at a number of the scarecrow creations.

The first one we saw was an outback vicar outside the Anglican church.


The next one was Dame Edna Everage, one of iconic Australian actor and comedian Barry Humphries’ characters.


I particularly liked Composto the scarecrow at Focus Support Services Centre with it’s compost bin and worms.


At the Michael Leeworthy Gallery the scarecrow was having to contend with a crocodile.


At Endota Spa local artist Lou Benetti had created Captain Jack from scrap metal. Not sure about his scarecrow status but it was scary enough and very well done.


Also Borris the bull by artists Lawrence and Maureen Marshall wasn’t really a scarecrow but would certainly fit in well on a farm.


Famous eye surgeon Fred Hollows could be seen at the Red Hill Op Shop.


Ryan (the seagull) of Rye wasn’t scared by any of the scarecrows. In fact I was able to have a bit of fun with him whilst he ate the ‘chips’ I fed him.


One of the better ones was the artistic scarecrow of Sir Arthur Streeton. Yes it is doubtful whether he painted cows up at Arthurs Seat, although he did create some lovely beach scenes down along the bay.


The last one I’ll include is this Bulldog mascot flying high to take a mark.


Again not really a scarecrow but dogs can certainly discourage birds. However it is topical as we are hoping the AFL Western Bulldogs are able to fly high and win their first premiership since 1954 when they meet the Sydney Swans at the MCG in Melbourne this afternoon. Go Bulldogs!

Extra note: Congratulations to the Western Bulldogs, 2016 Premiers after beating Sydney Swans by 22 points.


Mt Martha to Mornington cliff-top walk

Taking the cliff-top path from Mount Martha to Mornington is a good walk anytime of the year but in winter you don’t risk sunburn. Parking a car at Fisherman’s Beach in Mornington and then another at the Balcombe Creek estuary enabled us to take a leisurely walk of about 6-7 kilometres. The first part of the walk is on a concrete footpath


but after passing the estuary


you have the opportunity to cross over to the beach side. Interestingly the creek rarely makes it to the sea.


Given the crumbly nature of the cliffs due to erosion it was good to see railings along the edge of the path as we started.


There are frequent viewpoints along the path.




Another thing we noted were the information markers detailing interactions between the early European explorers and the original indigenous inhabitants.










As we walked along we could feel some strength in the wind so it was no wonder that many of the trees were twisted and gnarly.


About halfway along we detoured down a path to Fossil Beach for a quick look. It has been well picked over during the decades since fossils were first found there.


The acacias and the casuarinas in bloom reminded us that spring is on its way.



The coastline is quite rugged but beautiful.


As we approached Mornington we saw a number of the bathing boxes (beach huts) that are dotted around Port Phillip Bay. They always peak interest in interstate and overseas visitors.


After a gentle uphill finish we were happy to sit down for a hot drink and a warm lunch at the busy Li Lo Cafe.

Blackrock to Mordialloc coastal walk

February seems such a long time ago, especially when the delightful weather then has been replaced with cold, blustery, rainy August. So it’s a good time to sit down at the computer and type up a post. (Yes, I realise many of those reading this are enjoying a Northern Hemisphere summer.)

Walking on a really hot day in Melbourne’s summer is a challenge so when it was only forecast for high 20s Karen and I joined up with our two friends Pauline and Brendan and decided to do a section of the coastal walk along the east side of Port Phillip Bay. We dropped one car off at Mordialloc and continued up to Black Rock where we parked the other car. Unlike where we live further south on the Mornington Peninsula we had to pay for parking which was a bit annoying. Anyhow we were soon on our way. Initially the smooth gravel track was high up


which enabled us to take in a good view of part of the area we would be walking through.


The path was easy to follow but for those who weren’t sure it was well signposted. In fact based on the age of this sign it had been a well walked trail for many years.


After a while the trail moved away from the beach and onto the footpath along the main Esplanade in Beaumaris. According to a nifty piece of paving/artwork we were now walking the Coastal Art Trail. So that was an unexpected bonus.


Not long after we came to the beginning of a series of signs showcasing prints of famous Australian painters who had been inspired to paint the area in the past.


Sure enough there was Banksia Point for us to see as it was now, more than 100 years after the painting had been produced by Jessie Evans.


After reading the details and looking at a second sign featuring a painting by George Bell we made our way back along the trail as it led to the beach at Banksia Point. Here we were treated to the sight of some of the local black swans on the water.


The next painting featured on a signboard was one by Charles Conder entitled ‘Sandringham’ which he had painted in 1890. Charles was one of the many painters from the famous Heidelberg School in Melbourne to have visited and painted the people bathing in the area along the beach here.


I’m no painter so a quick photo to show the modern day bathers from a large school group will have to suffice.


As we continued the track rose again.


After fifteen minutes or so it came back down closer to the water and we had a good view across Moyes Bay in Beaumaris towards Mordialloc where we were heading.


Soon after the trail actually became the footpath along the roadside. The view we had seen of Moyes Bay was quite different to the one that Fred McCubbin had painted back in 1887, which we saw on one of the next set of boards.


The other board showed a photograph of the Great Southern Hotel and Keefer’s Boat Hire as seen back in the late 1890s. Sadly the boat hire burnt down so time ago.


Amazingly the great Southern Hotel is currently undergoing a major restoration. Clearly someone has lots of money to spend in returning it to its former glory.


The trail again headed back above the beach. When we saw this tree bent over by the wind over many years we were able to appreciate just how fortunate we were to be walking on such a beautiful day.


The next stretch returned down to sea level almost and was paved.


It didn’t take us long to be tempted to walk along the sand. Here the views spoke for themselves.



Back in Mordialloc we picked up one of our cars and drove back to where we had parked the second car in Blackrock. Here,the many cafes presented a bit of a challenge – which one to choose! But we finally settled down in one to rest our weary legs, enjoying a cool drink and a relaxing lunch.

Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk, Day 4 – Apollo Bay to Marengo

Sadly on the Friday we had to check out of our apartment in Apollo Bay at 10:00 and return home so we didn’t have a lot of time to do a full day’s walk. Due to our afternoon arrival on our first day we had elected not to walk from Marengo to Apollo Bay. So after checking out we parked our cars near the Apollo Bay golf course and made our way to the beach along the side of the golf course. Our plan was to walk the two kilometres along the beach and return via the pathway which wasn’t on the beach but within eyesight.


Once we were on the beach we moved fairly quickly as the weather forecast was for rain later in the morning. It didn’t take us long to come to the point where The Backwater was located. It’s where the Barham River doesn’t quite make it to the sea.


The rock platforms looked like they would be fun for the young and young at heart like us to scramble over but sadly the tide was on the move.


To our right there was a roped off area and not far along we came to this sign informing people that it was a Hooded Plover nesting area. However none were to be seen. We certainly appreciated even more how lucky we had been to see them the day before.


We continued along the beach for over a kilometre. At that stage we could see out in the water the Marengo Reef. It is apparently a great spot for snorkelling and diving.


At the end of the beach we came to the rocky point next to Marengo camping and caravan park and headed through the carpark and back onto the Great Ocean Walk track which would bring us back to Apollo Bay. Sadly about this time it began to drizzle rain so we made use of our coats and umbrellas as we kept walking briskly. We came to another information sign about the hooded plovers.


Not long after we crossed over the Barham River at the entry to the town.


About 500 metres later we were back at the cars. We drove back into town and warmed up with hot drinks. Our last little walk had been just long enough. Any further and the weather gods would have made it unpleasant. Now we have to plan and find another time to do the rest of the wonderful Great Ocean Walk.

Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk, Day 3 – Glenaire to Johanna Beach

The third day of our Great Ocean Walk was Thursday April 28th. Again we did a car shuttle, leaving one car at Johanna Beach and returning to Glenaire to start our walk. We didn’t have to go too far to have our first scenic view.


The gravel trail led us through heavy bushland at first.


We had the occasional view to the coast below.


A low growing form of eucalyptus was quite plentiful. This one certainly had character. The wind had been a huge influence on its growth I suspected.


Some were even in flower – very pretty.


We also noted plenty of grass bushes (Xanthorrhoeas) and even some stunted banksias.


After about an hour the trail headed inland through a gully of bracken and taller eucalypts.


Then we came to a section where we had to brush and wash our shoes due to the risk of fungal infection being spread. The trail became a very narrow boardwalk.


At the end of it was another point for boots to be brushed and washed for walkers going in the other direction. Our walk continued on and finally came to a point where we had a great view down to Johanna Beach, just before we started our descent.


As we reached the beach we came past signage warning walkers of the risks involved due to tidal changes.


From there we began the long trek along the beach with the wind in our faces again at times.


The cliffs above us were quite impressive. Equally so was the ability of some of the plants to cling to life on the rocky surface.


After about half an hour we came upon some of the rare, threatened hooded plovers bathing in a billabong of sea water. Given there are only about 600 in existence we were fortunate to see any.


The long beach walk continued around another rocky outcrop.


Finally we came to where the path came off the beach. We had a somewhat hazy view back along Johanna Beach to where we had come from about an hour earlier. This section from Glenaire to Johanna Beach had certainly been the most interesting walk of the three we had done.


However we had come off the wrong part of the beach and ended up walking along the road to the carpark where we had left one of our cars.


From there we could look further west to the part of the Great Ocean Walk we had yet to do. It is suggested you need eight days to complete the whole walk. Perhaps another time.


Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk, Day 2 – Cape Otway to Glenaire

The second day of our walk was Wednesday April 27th. We drove two cars to Glenaire along the inland part of the windy Great Ocean Road and parked one car. Drove back in the other car and down to Cape Otway along an even narrower and windier road. Parked at the shop there and the four of us set off.


After about a hundred metres we had a view down to the lighthouse.


Not long after we passed a small cemetery. The early part of the trail was inland and through medium height shrubs. It was quite up and down in places but as it was a bit inland we didn’t have views of the ocean very often which was a bit different to the previous day.


When we could we stopped and took a few photos.


DSCN7113The wind was quite strong and combined with the loose sandy path made it slow going. Occasionally sand blew in our faces. At one point a group of three very heavily laden young guys passed us but not long after we passed them again as they took a rest. Our walk continued along the top of the cliffs.


After what seemed ages, probably two and a half hours, we came to the Aire river escarpment.


We had an interesting view of the Aire river, which had stopped to form a billabong just ten or so metres from meeting the sea. Inland it wound its way to a bridge which seemed quite close.


However as we walked through arched shrubs blown together by strong winds over time it became quite evident that the two kilometres indicated on the map was pretty accurate.


On reaching the bridge we discovered that it was quite a recent addition. One section for vehicles and the side for pedestrians.


We crossed over just as a 4wd came the other way.


A school group was camped by the side of the river. We stopped for a lunch in the visitors section under a canopy which didn’t give us much respite from the ever present wind. After lunch the track was a steep steady climb, sadly through loose sand at times. Either side of the track was heavy shrubs. At times we were afforded excellent views to the rocky points below us.


Eventually we began to descend quite sharply. The trail became a boardwalk.


Finally it flattened out somewhat but we were still above Station beach.


At one point it looked like we would be on the beach but the trail moved parallel and above it steadily rising again.


A lot of the time we couldn’t even see the beach but above us there were some spectacular rock formations.


We finally made it to Glenaire carpark, where we had left one car, about 15:15, just over the five and a quarter hours since we had started the 16.6km walk. Our reward was another view of spectacular coastal scenery caused by the ever present crashing of the waves on the land.


We were foot weary but pleased to have finished.


After driving back to Cape Otway carpark to collect the second car we drove back towards Apollo Bay. We stopped at Mait’s Rest, a lovely fern gully with an 800m circuit walk.


Sadly due to the lack of recent rain many of the ferns were dropping dead fronds, totally different to the last time we had visited back in 2013. Back then it had been a day of drizzly rain and the gully was a vibrant green. After completing the circuit we continued our drive, arriving back at our apartment just in time for a cup of tea or a beer, depending on our preference!

Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk, Day 1 – Shelley Beach to Marengo

For some time Karen and I have been keen to do some, or all, of the Great Ocean Walk on the south west coast here in our state of Victoria. So when our friends Brendan and Pauline said they would be interested too we set our plans in motion. The end result was we had four spare days to do most of the first half of the walk by basing ourselves in an apartment we booked in Apollo Bay for the four days and using our cars to run our own shuttle service.

So on Tuesday April 26 we drove down the Great Ocean Road.


Along the way we stopped to check out the damage from bushfires that ravaged the area during the summer. Already some new growth on the eucalypts was evident.


We reached Apollo Bay by lunchtime and checked into our apartment. After lunch we drove to Marengo and left one car. In the other car we continued on to park at the Shelley beach carpark. Even though the walk is usually done from east to west it suited us better to go west to east on this section.

As we parked and left our car at the Shelley Beach carpark we had to avoid some very pesky European wasps. Most annoying. We moved quickly and we soon passed through a shady vale of eucalypts 


as we descended to Shelley beach, a beautiful, secluded spot.


From there we backtracked 100 metres and walked west to Three Creeks beach along a boardwalk.


After a short descent we were walking steadily along the beach. Waves cyclically crashed over the platform rocks.


Looking at the rocks you could see their volcanic origins.


At the end of the beach the path resumed. Sadly it was steeply uphill on a grassy path. An opportunistic seat was placed about two thirds of the way up. By the time we reached the top we had the chance to take some great photos.


The walk continued on along the cliff top with the path surface changing from a scramble over rocks


to gravel


to grass and even a short section of boardwalk as we went.


On reaching Marengo we passed through the caravan park to our car. Our next move was to drive back to pick up the other car. We returned to Apollo Bay for a relaxing drink, well pleased with our introduction to the Great Ocean Walk.

Captain Cook’s Cottage

Captain Cook’s Cottage can be found in an established section of the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. Captain James Cook was a sailor/navigator who made three extensive journeys of discovery for the British government in the late 1700’s. He was the first to map the eastern coast of Australia and in those days of colonialisation claimed Australia for the British in 1770.

Portrait of Captain James Cook and model of ship.

The cottage, built in 1755, was certainly the home of his parents, in Great Ayton in Yorkshire, but at best he probably only stayed in it when on leave from the navy. However in 1933 the cottage came on the market in England and after some negotiations was purchased by businessman, Russell Grimwade (later Sir) and disassembled and transported to Melbourne where it was re-assembled in the Fitzroy Gardens. Ivy cuttings from the site in England were also re-planted and grow across the brickwork. The cottage is a two storey building with one large room at each level and several smaller rooms leading off them. Furnishings are of the period but only one item, a small box is probably Captain Cook’s.

Main downstairs room
Main downstairs room

We were glad we live nowadays when we saw the small rooms and the beds.


Over the years the cottage has been a popular tourist attraction. In 1978 it underwent some restoration work. Today it is popular not only with Melbournians, Australians and British but increasing numbers of tourists from Asia.

View of cottage from the garden.

A friend of ours, whose surname is coincidentally Cook, works as a volunteer each week and every second week dresses in period costume and acts as a guide. Visitors can also dress in period costume whilst visiting, and many do so, making sure they have a photo with the statue of Cook found within the grounds of the cottage. The herb and vegetable garden is typical of the late 1700’s but it is doubtful the Cooks would have had as extensive an array as is on display now.

Photo time with our guide.
Photo time with our guide.

The small room at the back has a wide ranging display, detailed maps and a TV with DVD about Captain Cook running but we felt it was a bonus to receive specific information from an official guide and felt particularly special that we knew her. It is certainly worth a visit if you are in Melbourne.

Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens

Quite often called the ‘lungs’ of Melbourne are the many beautiful gardens surrounding the city. Probably the most impressive are the Royal Botanic Gardens but the closest to the city are Flagstaff Gardens, Treasury Gardens, Carlton Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens. Fortunately the weather has been a little bit better this week so we took the opportunity to go to Melbourne and spent some time enjoying the Fitzroy Gardens. Even though it’s winter the Fitzroy Gardens are still a peaceful, beautiful place to go walking.


There’s many sealed pathways between the garden beds, lots of fountains, a couple of cafes, even a miniature Tudor Village and the famous fairy tree.


The best house in Melbourne can also be found here in the midst of this serenity. I believe the caretaker is the fortunate one to call it home.


Another great spot is the Conservatory. In winter it’s a really lovely place to go, not least of all being the fact that it’s the warmest place. The plantings are well set out and you even get classical music as you walk through.


We met another friend at one of the cafes for lunch and then set off to the ever popular Captain Cook’s Cottage, certainly a feature of the Fitzroy Gardens.


Here we hoped to see another friend who volunteers at Captain Cook’s Cottage as a guide.

(More about that in my next post.)

Sensational summer sunset memories

Living so close to the beach is a real blessing. Even on cold wintry days it’s still interesting to go for a walk along the beach, whether to watch a passing cargo ship, a lucky sailor out in their yacht or just to watch the calm of the sea or waves being whipped up by the icy wind. Recently we had a great sunset view up the bay to the city of Melbourne. It reminded me of better weather earlier in the year and the sunsets summer provided.


On summer evenings we more often go down to the beach and walk along the Dromana pier, along the foreshore trail or just on the beach itself.


One hot evening back in summer we had a walk along the pier. The water was so calm and the fading light was highlighting the beach boxes back on the shore.


As we walked back the setting sun silhouetted the side of Anthony’s Nose beautifully.


However things became even better as the sun continued to descend. It lined up as if sitting on top of McCrae lighthouse.


From there it moved behind the end of Anthony’s Nose and started to disappear. We had been fortunate to witness another sensational sunset.