We have just had a few splendid few days on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne. Our aim was to just get away for a few nice days and be away from home where we have spent so much time because of our Covid lockdowns. We decided that a stay at the RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria) Resort at Cape Schanck would be just the place.
Coincidentally our daughter Cathy, and her two girls, Audrey and Violet, had booked a stay at a B&B in nearby Rosebud for a getaway during the school holidays. We enjoyed catching up with them while we were away.
On Wednesday, we ambled down to the Peninsula, finding a cafe in the town of Flinders for a light lunch. While the northern side of the Peninsula fronts on to Port Phillip Bay with its calm family-friendly beaches, the Southern side is on the more rugged ocean coastline of Bass Straight. Along the length of the coast, there are numerous small bays and surf beaches to explore. I had not been to some of these before.
It was Audrey’s birthday on Wednesday and we felt very privileged that she wanted us to join her for a wonderful dinner at Alatonero Greek Restaurant in McRae. It was a 25 minute drive across from our resort past some farms and market gardens. We had quite a feast of assorted Greek entrees and shared plates of lamb shoulder, chicken and seafood for our main courses. It was a wonderful night and an excellent birthday celebration.
It was very dark when we returned to the resort and we had our eyes open for kangaroos that might have encroached onto the road. The accommodation at the resort was completed in 2018. It sits on some ancient sand dunes and is surrounded by an excellent 18-hole golf course that looks more like a park than anything else. The architect was very successful in designing a building that would entice a diverse range of RACV members and non-RACV members to a world-class 120 room hotel, gym, luxury day spa, restaurants, golf club, and golf course.
On Thursday morning, we again met up with our girls to ride ‘The Eagle’, This is a gondola ride operated from its base station in Dromana to the summit of Arthurs Seat. It replaced the old Arthurs Seat Chairlift which was closed in 2006 after a number of safety issues. We had a leisurely coffee and cake together in the cafe at the top and then returned back down to the base station. It’s a pity that the trees and shrubs along the route of The Eagle have grown so much since it was constructed. They block a good deal the views along much of the nearby Peninsula.
I really enjoyed having this time with our grand daughters. After saying goodbye to them, we headed back to see more of the ocean beaches to see what we could find and to do some more photography along this scenic coast.
Late in the afternoon, we were at Cape Schanck, the most southern headland on Mornington Peninsula. This location was named in 1800 after Captain John Schank, R.N. by Lieutenant James Grant while sailing on his ship, the Lady Nelson. Schank had designed the raised keel (or centreboard) on the Lady Nelson. The current spelling of the locality as ‘Schanck’ (two c’s) is a misspelling of Shank’s name. You reach the outermost point of the Cape on an 800 metre boardwalk with its many steps.
The most recognisable symbol of Cape Schanck is its Lighthouse. It was built in 1859 and was only the second lighthouse be built in Victoria. The 21 metres (69 ft) tall tower was built from local limestone. The light’s focal plane is situated 100 metres above sea level and has a range of 26 nmi (48 km). It was originally manned by a team of lighthouse keepers who lived in the cottages near the base of the tower. Some decades ago, the light was converted to automatic operation, as have nearly all the lights along Australia’s coast
The rugged nature of the coastline around Cape Schanck with its cliff faces and rocky outcrops means there are few areas of traditional sandy beach. A prominent rock outcrop is Pulpit Rock that stands out at the very tip of the Cape.
We are now in the middle of winter, and the last few days have been cool and sunny – around 13C. The mornings have been cold. In Melbourne, minimum temperatures over the last few days gave been as low as 0C, but down here by the coast it has been a little warmer in the mornings at 4C. I managed to capture a good shot of the glow of first light on one crisp morning during our stay.
Today, before returning home, we pottered around some more of the coast before meeting up with our friends, Gill and Rob for lunch at the Merricks General Store. We met Gill and Rob many years ago on a European River cruise and have enjoyed their company on many occasions since.
The Merricks General Store was built in 1922. In the early years the building was a post office, store and meeting place for the local rural community. Over the years it has also been a favourite with day-trippers and surfers who dropped in for pies, chips, hot chocolate and milkshakes. For a brief time in 1997, the store operated as a restaurant and gourmet food pantry but by the early 2000’s it had become rundown. In 2008, the well known Myer and Baillieu families bought the store and improved it. In Spring of 2008, it reopened as a brand new providore, bistro, and cellar door. It is a wonderful place for lunch!