Bikes and lighthouses

Back to Queenscliff today and straight to the Big4 Beacon Resort to collect our hire bikes. Three mountain bikes. Across the road to the beach, where we ride the path along the esplanade, sea to our left, sandhills to our right.

The air is hazy with smoke and smells like a blend of smoke and the scent of seaweed that I always associate with this region. It is a flat path, easy to cycle past joggers, families and pedestrians walking their dogs.

The path goes all the way to Point Lonsdale, that village at the head of Port Phillip Bay. Kids and adults sunbaking or splashing in the waves.

We turn back and return the way we came. At our starting point we cross the road and cycle in the opposite direction, parallel with the heritage railway track, the same way we went on our first ride here back in 2016.

I just glimpse a diesel hauled passenger train heading out to Drysdale, which is a pity because it would have been so nice to see it pass up close a bit further on against the marshy backdrop of Swan Bay. I watch it recede, one the elements of this town that I love so much.

Hot, faced with a hill and, in my case, with a sore bottom from the uncomfortable seat, we turn back and return our bikes to the resort. Then we drive further to Queenscliff’s town centre for another meal of fish and chips from Trident.

They used to be my favourite fish and chips until last trip, when I discovered that they’d dropped the crumbed fish that I adored. Today’s meal is pretty good though and the potato cakes are first rate.

It’s so lovely to replicate our old tradition of eating the in the park across the road, lying on a picnic blanket, throwing balls to Alex.

After we tire of the heat we head back up to get an ice cream and a milkshake for Alex. Then off to Point Lonsdale, this time on four wheels.

I must visit my lighthouse at the tip of the town. Once Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff protected Port Phillip Bay and Melbourne from the Russian threat of the Crimean War, so far away. I used to play in the old concrete gun bunkers overlooking the entrance to the bay. Except it turns out a couple of them housed searchlights instead of canons. One has been restored, my ruins plastered over.

Fortunately, a bit further along past the semaphore station is another bunker, this one probably once housing weapons, that is fenced off but still in an almost original state.

Behind and below the lighthouse is the wooden Point Lonsdale jetty. Last time we were here was in winter on a bitterly cold and windy day, spray crashing over the top of the jetty.

The weather is much milder today. Teenagers jump off the edge of the jetty into the water. I’m not game to go into the water, finding it cold even as a kid on holiday all those years ago.

The air is hot and we retreat to the car for our return to Belmont, where the adults all sleep for the rest of the afternoon. It is so wonderfully relaxing.

In the evening we drive to Barwon Heads to treat ourselves to a nice dinner at At The Heads, the restaurant on the jetty. Alex has spicy crab linguine, B seared yellowfin tuna with mussels and wilted greens that include native pig face, a common beachside plant. I save some money with a chicken burger and let them steal my chips. I prefer the root vegetables in the caper and finger lime sauce anyway.

It is very nice and filling, but the star is the view across the river, towards the bridge, the Spiegeltent and the setting smoky red sun.

Once we finish dinner we take another walk over the bridge and out across the sand to the edge of the sea. I scan the view for my beacons, those lights that mean something to sailors and something altogether different to me. They’ve changed over the years and I cannot see the beam of the Point Lonsdale lighthouse. But there are some others, flashing red, green, white.

Out here I feel so relaxed. The lights, the breeze, the feel of sand under my feet, the scent of seaweed in the air and the overlay of childhood memories. I don’t want to leave, for this holiday to end. I just want to stay in one of those beach huts and do… Do nothing.

Sadly tomorrow we must begin our journey home.