A Wintery Flinders Sunday Afternoon…the Fondest of Childhood Memories

By Bree Carlton:

After a frantic Sunday morning spring cleaning and gardening, we decide to venture out with Isaac and Oskar down to Flinders Beach. It’s a wintery, devilishly freezing day but the weather is changeable. On our drive down the coast we move from fits of drizzle to bursts of sunshine. The sky is yellowy golden and dramatic; the big billowy white and purple clouds scattered and interspersed with deep patches of blue and dramatic rainbow arcs.

Flinders is located on the tip of the Australian state of Victoria where Western Port Bay flows into the Bass Strait. It is well known for its picturesque national parklands and wildlife, crisp air blown fresh off the Antarctic, and its beautiful safety and ocean beaches. But for me Flinders holds the richness of fond childhood memories. Mum and Dad used to take my brother and me there when we were kids. Years ago Dad made our livelihood as a ceramic artist. On weekends he used to deliver his wares -crockery; vases; tea and dinner sets- to various art galleries and craft outlets up and down the Peninsula coast. Bittern, Red Hill, Balnarring and Flinders were just some of the places we visited on listless Sunday afternoon drives.

As a child I never liked the sweltering summers and crowded beaches. My fondest memories were of family winter beach trips. We listened to dad and mum’s old folk music tapes while scaling the scenic roads down the Peninsula coast. I loved the cold, abandoned seaside townships and felt at home on the isolate, stark beachfronts. After the deliveries were made we’d go exploring on Flinders beach which always held so much promise.

My brother and I spent hours together, our hands rendered purple and blue by the cold icy air, pilfering and fossicking in and around the rock pools, finding little crabs, shells and star fish. We’d play chase with the waves and when we were finally exhausted Dad would buy fish and chips and we would all huddle in the warm car eating, sharing and joking before making the journey home.

On this Sunday, a generation later, we make our way down late in the day, taking in the lush green farms, parklands, and dramatic coastal views. We stop at the safety beach to walk on the pier. The boys are hungry so we’ve brought hot chips to eat before we walk. We huddle on the beachside table. The air is rich with the scent of rotting kelp and fish but it is still so fresh and invigorating. After they eat the boys run ahead jumping across the mounds of seaweed and shouting to us and each other.

We stand on the shore and look across the bay to Phillip Island. Located just out of Western Port, the Island is a popular family coastal holiday destination known for its beaches and wildlife – namely the famous Fairy Penguin Parade. I reminisce about the childhood Easter holidays we spent on the Island. I feel completely at peace in this moment taking in the dramatic sky scapes, the water resemblimg a perfect sheet of glass and the gentle scatter of fishing boats around the bay. I feel at home with my memories while watching Isaac and Oskar make their own. We meander slowly to the pier, as we go collecting shells and sticks. Phillip Island looks pale yellow orange, radiating the faded winter sun. The air is so cold, the beach is eerie. The few people around are beginning to leave for home.

By the time we finally reach the pier the sky is darkening, evening is setting in and the boys are tired. We turn back to the car, keen to avoid rain and to warm our chilly bones.  We’re back just in time. The journey home is peaceful; even with the rapid decline in daylight we relish the scenic ocean, forest landscapes through rain spattered windows.

Words & Pictures: Bree Carlton

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