St Kilda, Williamstown and Yarraville

Williamstown

When we finished the last blog we had arrived in Williamstown, discovered a mystery creature and settled into our temporary home where we would be for a few weeks.

Australian fishing mammal (or marsupial)
Australian fishing mammal (or marsupial)

The mystery creature no longer is a mystery when we discovered this sign in St. Kilda.

Rakali, "Australian Water Rats"
Rakali, “Australian Water Rats”

All of this is explained in more detail later.

Williamstown

Esplanade Private Fishing Harbour
Esplanade Private Fishing Harbour

Williamstown is a suburb of Melbourne. It’s mostly residential. It’s a small promontory surrounded on 3 sides by water and has a few pretty spots. The Esplanade Private Fishing Harbour is one of those spots and it’s only 200 metres from our front door.

The Williamstown Botanic Gardens are small but we found them a relaxing place to visit. I can’t see this picture of them without thinking about Thunderbird 2 launching and expecting the trees to fold back.

Williamstown Botanic Gardens
Williamstown Botanic Gardens
Williamstown Botanic Gardens
Williamstown Botanic Gardens

We found the Steam Packet pub in Williamstown to be a great place. The Guinness is near perfect and the food delicious. If you’re ever in Williamstown, go there and have a pint of Guinness. They do also have a good selection of other craft beers which they are happy to let you sample before choosing.

While out exploring Williamstown we discovered that there’s a Titanic themed restaurant. It looks pretty good.

Titanic Restaurant
Titanic Restaurant

It was shut, we even tried third class but even then we didn’t get in.

Titanic 3rd Class Entrance
Titanic 3rd Class Entrance

St. Kilda.

The iconic St. Kilda Pier
The iconic St. Kilda Pier

We had booked a short break in St. Kilda to break up our stay in Williamstown, and also as another location to base ourselves for more exploring. Jenni used to live there and it’s an iconic place. Being so close we had to visit for a few days, plus we don’t like to stay too long in one place.

You shouldn’t visit St Kilda without taking a walk along the famous pier.

St. Kilda has a pretty good view of the Melbourne skyline which you can see clearly as you promenade along the pier. In the small harbour there were kite surfers zipping speedily up and down. This fella had a gadget on his board that lifted him out of the water and helped him go faster. Looks like fun if it wasn’t so cold.

Speedy Kite Surfer
Speedy Kite Surfer

Some of them were leaping high out of the water.

I can see your luxury penthouse apartment from up here
I can see my luxury penthouse apartment from up here

What we discovered was that if you get to the end of the main part of the pier and keep going you find a penguin and rakali sanctuary. It was here, after seeing the sign  the mystery of the swimming rat from the last blog was resolved. Rakali sound like an alien from the Doctor Who series, up to that point I’d never seen that word before.

The penguins were a surprise though. We were informed by other signs that the tiny fairy penguins that inhabit the end of the pier come out at dawn and return at sunset. An excited local, upon spying my camera, told me the location of a lone penguin hiding in the rocks where I could get some pictures.

Shy fairy penguin
Shy fairy penguin

All the rest of his mates were out foraging. We were too early to see them return, also it was getting busy with tourists so we left. I made a pact with myself to go back before dawn the next day and catch them going out.

I set my alarm and the next morning I got up at 5:30am and walked the cold walk back to the pier. The sun was set to rise at 6:30am. On the way back to the pier I passed Luna Park.

Luna Park at night
Luna Park at night

Luna Park was opened in 1912. It was the first of 5 Luna Parks opened in Australia. Only this one and the Sydney one remain. I always thought the entrance to the Luna Parks were one of the creepiest things I ever saw, and that was during the day.  At night it turns into the stuff of nightmares.

The views of the Melbourne skyline from the pier before dawn were beautiful.

Melbourne from St Kilda Pier before dawn
Melbourne from St Kilda Pier just before dawn
Melbourne from St Kilda Pier before dawn
Melbourne from St Kilda Pier just before dawn

As it turned out, didn’t see any penguins. Either they left before I got there or didn’t come home last night. It was a beautiful morning though. Got some nice pictures of the sunrise over St Kilda.

It was so cold and windy that morning. Maybe the penguins wanted a lie in. This was the beach they were supposed to walk along. Guess they didn’t read the signs and understand that’s what they were supposed to do.

Sunrise over St Kilda from the end of the Pier
Sunrise over St Kilda from the end of the Pier

Just as I was leaving the sun rose over the town and caught the cafe at the end of the pier in a golden light. The storm clouds behind gave the scene a dramatic backdrop..

Cafe at the end of the pier at sunrise
Cafe at the end of the pier at sunrise

The next day after we worked for a couple of hours starting early we went for a drive along the coast to see what we could see.

Sandy Beach Kiosk

Randomly we stopped for 2nd breakfast at the Sandy Beach Kiosk. It was random and unplanned as usual, we just drove to a nice looking spot and stopped and checked out what was around.

Sandy Beach Kiosk
Sandy Beach Kiosk

Australia seems to always deliver. This beach hut is just over 100 years old. It is a very popular place with locals and visitors alike. It was a weekday when we visited at about 11:00am and it was busy.

Inside the current owner has curated many old pictures of the history of the place.

Downstairs at the Kiosk.
Downstairs at the Kiosk

There were plenty of people with dogs in the downstairs section so we sat upstairs which was quieter and no dogs allowed.

Only humans allowed upstairs, but we managed to sneak in
Only humans allowed upstairs, but we managed to sneak in

There were more pictures of the history of the place upstairs too.

Sandy Beach Kiosk Picture Gallery
Sandy Beach Kiosk Picture Gallery

I know I have to keep mentioning this but Jenni and I are working while we travel. We have laptops and wifi internet hotspots we carry with us. We ordered some food and coffees and spent some delightful hours in this cafe catching up with work.

Our working spot for the morning
Our working spot for the morning

If you’re ever in the area pop in. It’s an interesting place. You’ll find it here.

Brighton Beach Huts

Queen Victoria was a prude, apparently. Didn’t like the sight of bare flesh. That created a challenge and an opportunity for those ladies who liked to take the “waters” as bathing was called in those days. They built wooden huts on the beaches for the rich folk to hide in when changing into their bathing costumes so they didn’t offend onlookers. Interestingly they changed into costumes that covered the whole of their bodies. Then they walked from the beach huts into the waters between two walls of canvas just in case anyone caught a glimpse of their swimming garments. This all happened in England of course, but transferred to Australia in the 1860’s.

All that palaver has disappeared but the beach huts remain. They are now a tourist draw and an institution.

Brighton Beach Huts
Brighton Beach Huts

This is the back of them, the front of them was deluged by tourists and visitors like us.

Tourist central at Brighton Beach Huts
Tourist central at Brighton Beach Huts

Of course we did the tourist thing ourselves.

Back in Williamstown

Choices

Life is full of choices. One of the choices you can make every day is whether to use something once and throw it away or refuse that option and reduce the pollution and detritus in our streets and on our beaches.

That evening after returning home we went for a sunset stroll. Every time, not almost every time, every feckin time we go for a stroll there’s rubbish someone has discarded.

Ditch single use plastic.
Ditch single use plastic.

We pick it up and put it in the bins that are always near. As Jenni says you aren’t throwing it away, there is no “away” to throw it. It will be there for years.

Ancient Plastic Cup Relic
Ancient Plastic Cup Relic

Fact: you don’t ever need a drinking straw, if you buy coffee take your own coffee cup and wash it afterwards, bring your own bag to the supermarket, use your own water bottle and fill it up for free out of the tap. It’s not inconvenient, its easy and it makes a difference. Do it. Our countryside and our planet will be better for it.

On the way back this evening the sunset gave us a real show, it looked like a fire in the sky.

Sunset in Williamstown Beach
Sunset in Williamstown Beach

The fisher folk were out and the kayaker was having a ball. We’ve seen some colours in the sunsets here we’ve not seen anywhere before.

Have you ever seen boys and girls toilets marked by these symbols? This is how they are in the toilet and shower block at Williamstown Beach.

Our explorations around Williamstown uncovered some delightful sights. This is Williamstown centre.

Williamstown
Williamstown

Williamstown Harbour with HMAS Castlemaine, a WWII warship.

HMAS Castlemaine
HMAS Castlemaine

We Turned Right

Up to this point we’d always walked down the road to the beach then turn left towards the town centre and the beach. 10kms to the right is Altona. The path to Altona is along the coast but as it passes an oil refinery we assumed it wouldn’t be great but we made the choice one weekend to walk the 10km as our exercise for the day.

Jawbone Reserve

Jawbone Arboretum
Jawbone Arboretum

Not far along the Jawbone Reserve looked like a lovely place to inspect. It was a reclamation and replantation project to showcase indigenous plants.

It’s a sweet little reserve, quite picturesque.

Jawbone Reserve
Jawbone Reserve

Remember the picture of the buried plastic, well it was here in this beautiful reserve.

Jenni returns the beach to it's former pristine beauty
Jenni returns the beach to its former pristine beauty

Needless to say we picked the cup up. You can see Jenni carrying it in this picture. Along the waterline of the rocks new coral was growing. I’d never seen new young coral before.

New Coral
New Coral

Here’s a close up.

New Coral
New Coral

Around the corner we were visited by this little cutie, the properly named Superb Fairy Wren.

Superb Fairy Wren
Superb Fairy Wren

He’s a beautiful little fella. The males are all colourful and the females a drab brown.

Onwards towards Altona we walked. It’s not often you see a guard goat patrolling a yard but we did.

Billy the Guard goat
Billy the Guard goat

The landscape was less than appealing but an artist thought there was something worth trying to capture in paint.

Painter in the River
Painter in the River

The entire walkway was framed on one side by this delightful scene.

Mobil Oil Refinery, Altona
Mobil Oil Refinery, Altona

Granted the bit the artist was painting was shielded from this view but this oil refinery was visible for most of the journey.

Altona was so interesting I have no pictures of it. I have a lot of pictures of the Oil Refinery and a goat behind a fence but none of Altona. Instead of walking back to Williamstown from Altona after lunch, which was delicious in case you were wondering, we got an Uber.

Yarraville

20 minutes drive from Williamstown is a very small place called Yarraville and we stopped there one day. We were looking for a Farmers Market that had been advertised but we got the dates wrong, or it was cancelled, or moved or something. Anyway we didn’t find it but we had lunch, explored and bit and went home with the thought of returning later as it looked interesting.

Sun Theatre Yarraville
Sun Theatre Yarraville

The Sun Theatre in Yarraville has an interesting history. Built in 1938 and the most luxurious in the area this 1050 seat cinema thrived. That was until TV took over in the 50’s and 60’s when the audience dwindled and it was closed by the Council for unsanitary carpets.

After over 30 years of dereliction in 1995 it was purchased and revitalised and restored back to its former glory. It is a beautiful building I must say.

Trugo

Still in Yarraville I saw this mural, it depicts a sport unique to Melbourne called Trugo

Trugo mural Yarraville
Trugo mural Yarraville

From Wikipedia, “The objective of the game is to score goals by striking a “wheel” (a compressed rubber ring one inch thick and thirteen inches circumference) with a mallet from a rubber mat at one end of the rink and between a pair of short goal posts at the other end.”

Interestingly, to me anyway, the day after I took this picture I saw the same picture in an article in the BBC news web site.

A couple of nights later we returned for a meal in The Vault pub across the road from the Sun Theatre.

Sun Theatre at night
Sun Theatre at night

The Vault Pub food was pretty good, the service was appalling. Won’t be back.

The Vault, Yarraville
The Vault, Yarraville

Inside the pub, this is the “vault” the pub was named after.

The vault in The Vault
The vault in The Vault

The Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles are both reported to be an experience you have to do once in your life. We were close enough to do them so one weekend we took off along the Great Ocean Road. If anything, the reports of the experiences you were going to get were understated.

The Great Ocean Road

Memorial Arch over the Great Ocean Road
Memorial Arch over the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road and our journey along it is worth a blog on its own. That will be the content of our next one.

Till then, have fun folks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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