Wednesday Wander – Arthur’s Seat, Australia

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Arthur’s Seat is the promontory to the right of the picture. The car ferry in the foreground runs between Sorrento and Queenscliffe, a journey of about forty-five minutes across the Heads, or several hours if you were to drive around the bay.

Urf, it’s another hot night in the UK. Thunderstorms are on their way and I for one cannot wait. There’s nothing like the refreshing change, the ozone in the air, the fury of the elements – at least while I’m indoors ;-). When the weather is humid like this it reminds me of Australia, of several days in a row where the air would lie hot and heavy, the temperature above 30 degrees before 9am. Then the cool change would come, sometimes with thunder, sometimes just a fresh breeze, the temperature dropping literally in minutes.

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Looking back along the bay towards Melbourne. You can just glimpse the towers of Melbourne at the extreme left of the horizon, giving you an idea of the vastness of the bay.

Before we came to the UK (or returned, in my case), we lived on the Mornington Peninsula, just outside Melbourne. It was a beautiful place to live – we were there for seven years, and I just loved it. There are several tall promontories overlooking Port Phillip Bay – Mt Martha, Mt Eliza and Arthur’s Seat, named for the original in Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is the highest of the three and the views from the top are spectacular.

Looking towards the entrance to the bay.

Looking towards the entrance to the bay.

In the photo above you can see the small towns strung along the curve of the bay – Dromana, Tootgarook, Rosebud, Rye, Blairgowrie, Sorrento, and the millionaires playground of Portsea. We lived in St Andrews Beach, on the ocean side of the Peninsula, where the land starts to curve towards the head. We were only a few minutes walk from the beach, waves pounding just beyond the dunes – I still miss hearing them at night.

From the top of Arthur’s Seat, the land stretches back in a ridge, the rich soil home to farms and vineyards, lush eucalypt forests and small towns. It is glorious.In fact, I think I’ll be wandering to this part of the world again, both in real life and on this blog. It’s a wonderful place to be.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time ๐Ÿ™‚

Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 12 – Games

IMG_0592Well, I snuck in at the last minute with this one! This is a Snakes and Ladders game at the Enchanted Maze, near to where I used to live in Australia. I thought it a really cool idea which is why I took the photo – I think I had some dream of one day having a garden big enough to host my own Snakes and Ladders game ๐Ÿ˜€ We last visited the maze several years ago, just before we left Australia, and here is Miss Five about to jump down a ladder.

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The Enchanted Maze is hidden high in the hills above the bay, and comprises lovely formal gardens, a large hedge maze, a native bush trail with games and more mazes, and, in the summer, inner-tube sledding in the big field, which is hilarious fun. There’s also a big sweet shop and a lovely restaurant overlooking the gardens, which are open to weddings and birthday parties (we had the gorgeous girl’s second birthday there, a big picnic for family and friends).

IMG_0578This probably doesn’t look like the sort of garden you’d expect to see in Australia – however the lush soil and rolling hills of the Mornington Peninsula are home to some of the best wineries in Australia, as well as other formal gardens and parks. There’s plenty of bush, of course – gum trees and moonah and ti-tree abound, possums and spiders and kookaburrahs part of life ‘down the coast’. I loved living there, and feel very fortunate to have done so.

This is for Hugh’s Photo Challenge Week 12, and the subject is Games. The deadline is today, so if you’d like to add your own, be quick! And thanks for reading.

Five Photos Five Stories Challenge – Day 2 – Sorrento Car Ferry

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This photo was taken where I used to live, on one of the curving arms of land that form Port Phillip Bay, way down south at the bottom of Australia. If you look at a map of Port Phillip Bay, you’ll see the narrow entrance – in the old days, mariners referred to navigating the treacherous reefs there as ‘threading the needle’, and even now channel markers are required for the large container ships that brave the bay, heading for the great ports of nearby Melbourne.

It was a hot day and a group of us had decided to take our kids to the beach en masse to let them run around, enjoying the salt air and fresh waves and fun. I was taking photos of the children playing, then snapped this one of the car ferry that runs every hour between Sorrento on the east side to Queenscliffe on the west. From Sorrento, Queenscliffe seems so close you can see individual buildings, yet it takes several hours in the car to get there if you decide to drive around the bay. The ferry only takes about forty minutes and, if you’re lucky, you’ll see dolphins dancing in the foaming wake, small grey barrel shaped escorts recently found to be their own distinct species. The high promontory to the right is Arthur’s Seat, named for the original in Edinburgh and boasting spectacular views of the bay and along to Melbourne. Heading up the Seat leads you into a land of gum trees and wineries, kangaroos in the fields and small cottages tucked away, a world apart from the blue sea and sandy beaches below.

I lived on the Mornington Peninsula for seven years. It was a wonderful place to bring up a child, among the beaches and gum-tree lined hills. When my daughter was very small, I would take her with me to the grocery store and, when I’d get her out of the car, she would tug on my hand, trying to pull me to the beach she knew was across the road. But we always got the groceries first, storing them in cool bags and boxes before I’d take her to the beach, sitting on a blanket while she toddled and splashed in the gentle bay waters, looking for shells and stones.

Now I have this image as a photo canvas, a bright reminder of my time living by the bay.

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Iโ€™ve been nominated by Ali Isaac to take part in the Five Photos Five Stories Challenge โ€“ I havenโ€™t chosen a nominee as yet ๐Ÿ™‚

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. Itโ€™s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!