Thursday, 26 July 2007

In love with the island

I have fallen in love with Phillip Island this week. It’s one of the most beautiful places on this earth. (Or maybe I just needed a holiday!) In the middle of July, the middle of our winter, it’s peaceful, wild, breathtakingly beautiful.

Kitty Miller Bay is a small bay on the south coast of the island. On Tuesday it was deserted, save for a small family of three muddling about in the sand. I took a small track along the ‘cliff’ top to the next bay across, where stands the rusted wreck of the SS Speke, a barque that ran around here in 1906. The track ends here, but I battled bravely on along through the tufted grasses and pricklebushes and made my way down onto the sand. Before backtracking to examine the Speke, I kept going, not another soul in sight, and trekked across the base of the dunes into the next bay, across the silver stretch of sand to the base of Helens Head. The top revealed a wonderful view of the rugged island coast and Bass Strait.

Down on the beach below, a single set of footprints marked my progress along the beach.

There is something special about a deserted beach. Remarkably, it’s just a ‘hop-skip-jump’ away from the tourist-packed Summerland Bay, where the Little Penguins waddle in every dusk to much touristy fanfare. Obviously the locals know about this secluded stretch of coast, because their farms roll down right to the edge of the dunes. Lucky cattle! Lucky sheep!

I am still exploring the other parts of the island, but already I know that the south coast and the SS Speke will be a place I return to. The beach below the head will afford an amazing 360-degree view of the night sky, and next time there’s a comet or planet or meteor shower to see, I know where I’m going!

As an added bonus, the coastal landscape is remarkably similar to one of the settings in my novel, so as I contemplate my rewrite it’s handy to feel so inspired by said location!

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