The weather’s been a bit wacky recently, even by Melbourne standards, swinging between mid thirties to low twenties, winds all over the place. The forecast doesn’t play out as predicted. Still, at 9.00 am on a Monday morning at Fisherman’s Beach, Mornington, all’s good. Light winds mostly coming from somewhere north, sunny and warm. The plan is to paddle to Mt Martha Beach for a snorkel on an outgoing tide.
Haven’t been to Fisherman’s Beach for a very long time. In fact, I’ve never swum here in spite of growing up on the Peninsula and coming over to Mornington for Sunday School picnics, a change of scenery during school holidays, birthday parties on the beach, or simply to escape the brisk southerlies of Westernport. That’s mainly because in years gone by, Fishermans Beach was well-known for the stench of rotting fish guts and sewerage. Although I’m told by one of the real locals that this was only down one end of the beach and were really no big deal. Thus, I suspect that my early impressions of Fishermans Beach are more about Westernport snobbery than reality. Either way, these days it’s all in a name and the bay as a whole is a lot more civilised now that sewerage is directed elsewhere and tossing fish remains around is forbidden.
Doesn’t take long to paddle to Mt Martha’s brick-red bluffs at the end of the beach. I remember clambering down these with friends to swim, snorkel and collect abalone off the reef in the late 1970s and early 80s and it’s tempting to abandon the kayak and jump in the water here.
Tamsin paddles on around the base of the bluffs embedded with limestone through opalescent water. For a moment we wonder if we’ve somehow landed in the Whitsundays.
Not knowing what the wind will do, we decide to turn around and leave the kayaks on the southern end of Mt Martha beach while we snorkel around the rocks.
Ceamy corraline alage, clouds of filamentous green algae, bunches of sea lettuce and golden balls of brown seaweed cover the rocks. Occasionally a grass whiting darts past.
Surfacing occasionally, to keep track of where we are, the reflected textures of the cliffs and bright blue sky merge in the water. It’s all a little surreal.
On the paddle back to Mornington, the tide has gone out enough to expose tiny islands offshore. Seabirds quickly occupy the rocks, which one by one emerge from the sea, until the tide reverses and they sink beneath the surface.
Back at Fishermans Beach, I’m keen to practice some bracing and have a go at rolling. After swapping my kayak for Tamsin’s Nadgee Solo, and with a bit of tough love, I get it. Three times. Wahoo!
About 15km all up.