The steam train and the lighthouse

At last a warm and sunny day! I write that as our cabin sounds with the white noise of heavy showers, but it was true when we awoke, clocks turned forward by an hour with the arrival of daylight saving.

We hired Alex a “go kart”, a two seat tricycle, that we pedalled around the caravan park. Then it was time to head into Queenscliff proper to catch a ride on the Bellarine Railway.

I have ridden this historic tourist train line many times over the year and it’s one of my favourites, especially the start which sees you running just above the waterline of Swan Bay, alongside, weedy brine swamps.

Our two wooden passenger cars plus guards van were hauled by a little tank engine steam locomotive that puffed along rarely exceeding 20 kilometres per hour. Past the bay, the into the rolling hills of the countryside, sheep, horses, cattle, olive trees and even a flower farm.

It was a slow ride, but a relaxing one. Alex slept for about half of the 45 minute ride.

Sadly the narrow gauge line stops at the town of Drysdale rather than connecting with the main network at Geelong. We paused long enough for the locomotive to use the passing loop to switch ends and take on more water. Then we reversed back to Queenscliff. When we return to Sydney I’ll post the video.

Once back, it was time for a lunch of fish and chips from the Trident Fish Bar. Sadly they no longer serve their crumbed fish and the meal, though very good, was not quite up the previous night’s standard. It’s a pity because they used to be my all time favourite and I’ve been going there as long as they have existed.

It was a struggle trying to keep our paper wrapped meal from flying off in the strong winds that shook the trees of the park. Alex kept the seagulls entertained.

Next stop to take advantage of the sun was Point Lonsdale. On the way out we passed Fort Queenscliff where the first Allied shots were ordered in both world wars. It is still a military facility, though no longer as a coastal defence.

The tide was in at Point Lonsdale and the sea waves were crashing over the stone path by the beach. Alex squealed with delight as he dodged the spray.

We walked the path up towards the lighthouse under the low twisting shrubs, as I have done since those childhood holidays so long ago. Then down to the long pier jutting into the bay. Gales winds made it a struggle to walk straight was we felt droplets of spray from the white caps blast our skin.

The sea churned as the wind driven waves from Port Philip Bay fought those of Bass Strait, culminating in the white of The Rip.

When we walked up to the base of the white and green lighthouse we watched a bulk freighter fighting it’s way across The Rip, an orange pilot vessel guiding it.

We had seen the red and green beacons of the lighthouse from Barwon Heads the night before. To me it is the symbol of the Bellarine Peninsula. Surrounding it are disused concrete gun emplacements where we used to play as kids. They are all fenced off now.

Down near the bottom of the lighthouse, its entrance still caged, is William Buckley’s cave, where the escaped convict may once have stayed, though that is now considered unlikely.

We played on the rocks by the beach for a while, but a mass of grey approached and it was time to head back.

Fortunately there was still time to stop by the Scandinavian Ice Cream shop back in Queenscliff for some much needed refreshment. Jaffa and licorice ice cream for me if you must know.

It was spitting by the time we returned to the caravan park. After an afternoon rest Alex decided he wanted to get wet, so we walked out into the rain to take a swim in the indoor pool and the much warmer spa. Then back for a home cooked meal of sausages, none of us wanting to go out in the worsening weather.

I still find this area magical. It’s my favourite stretch of the Australian coastline. I just hope the weather is good enough to allow some wandering tomorrow.