Sunday, 5 February 2006

Make Love Not Forts

We had ourselves quite a productive weekend.
Yesterday we spend most of the day roaming about around Port Melbourne (while eating lots of stuff), met up with friends, and even did some weeding at home (our garden looks like Hiroshima did after that eventful day).
Today we drove up to the Point Nepean National Park again. You may remember we did the same a few weeks ago and it was closed; this time we were lucky (and we also checked that it's open before we left).
Now, for those of you who don't know, Melbourne is located at the top of this bay called Port Phillip Bay. It's quite a big bay: Circling it would take you a good few hours, but what I find most interesting about it is the fact that the entrance to this bay is very narrow - something like 2km. Standing at one of the entrance's tips, you can clearly see people on the other side, but getting to them by land would take you - well, as I just said - a good few hours.
So Point Nepean is the park they have on the eastern side of the bay's entrance.
We got there with the Canyonero, got tickets, and drove on the internal parking lot where we had a small picnic lunch right next to the car because they didn't bother with picnic tables there (forcing you to carry lunch with you, which we couldn't be bothered to do). Still, we enjoyed the lunch in a comical sort of way: It reminded us of all the people we saw picnicking beneath the shadow of their car in England during our recent trip (and we have the accompanying photos).
Then we walked up this road for 3km by foot (you can cycle it, too). It starts as quite a boring road, but pretty quickly you see the sea popping up between the trees. The funny aspect of it is that the sea pops up on both your left (the Tasman Sea) and your right (the inside of Port Phillip Bay). You also pass this beach where the Prime Minister of Australia decided to go for a swim and never came back (it was back during the Vietnam war and you can read more about it in Bill Bryson's lovely book about Australia which sells under different names in different countries despite being the same book; he signed my American copy in Melbourne a year ago).
There are all sorts of fortifications along the way - of the military type. You're used to seeing that type of thing in Israel, but not in Australia. Who's able to go as far as Australia anyway? I found the walls they built along the beach, probably with the intention of preventing foot soldiers from storming the beach, quite fascinating. I wonder how the real thing looks like on France's beaches.
Eventually you get to this fort that they built right at the tip of the bay. Built at around 1880 it was operational during the two world wars with some big guns keeping guard of bay (check out the photos in my photo link). Now a museum, it was quite interesting to wonder about around and inside the fort. Built inside this hill, it has very thick walls and many damp and cold underground tunnels - just like my old army base back in Jerusalem... Certainly a place to make you think twice about army service. Given the fact that no one actually even came close to attacking Melbourne, it also shows you a thing or two about the futility of it all. If only mankind would dedicate half of the effort it wastes on military stuff to things that would do some real good - helping the poor, health, education, alternative energy, better computer games - the world would be so much happier than it is now.
But let's go back to the aching reality. With all the exercise we've been doing lately (read: none - it was too fucking hot), by the time we got home my legs were (and still are) all stiff.


K Williams said...

From memory (and bugger all help it is now...) there's a derelict bus service to take you from the office to the point/museum. In 1997 (gosh I sound like like a grandfather!) we walked one way and hopped on the bus on the way back.

Moshe Reuveni said...

They don't have a bus, but they do have this tractor that pulls these cabins ala train style.
However, if you want to use this makeshift bus you need to pay $14.50 instead of $7.50 per head. You also need to wait for it at the bus stations spread around the park, and like all Victorian public transport frequencies are rather lacking.

While walking the park, Jo has said that her father will probably like the park and the fort - which is, after all, described as the "Giblartar of the south" and he's quite the military buff (might I add that this is probably the case becuase he never really took part in one?). She did add, though, that if her parents do come over and we take them to this park we'll have to take the bus because they'll probably find the walk boring with their short attention spans. I have a bit of a problem with that: Yes, the walk is not the most interesting walk ever, but it's only 3km each way. However, it is most valuable in helping to set things up in context - starting at the parking lot, slowly seeing more of more of the sea, more fortifications, more boats, until you finally get to the fort. Without this preparation, or with a bus quickly taking you along the way, the build up won't be the same and you probably won't enjoy the experience as much; it will be just another "been there, done that" thing.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that like virtually all things in life, the good things require an effort in order to get to them.
Jo and I really enjoyed the walk.