Friday, 2 May 2014

From cabins to castles... fun with sand!

MONDAY MARCH 31st To Sandringham

 We found out that 'bona fide' travellers (rather than being just anyone within Port Phillip Bay or indeed Victoria) get 48 hours free and then $35 per day thereafter in the Sandringham Yacht Club, so that was our destination for 3 days.  Upon investigation, the club was in the right spot for a couple of interesting places that we could get to by train and bike, so even better and, being Sandringham, we expected some swish facilities that's for sure.

It was a fabulous sail, with the breeze pushing us fairly speedily all the way and the water smooth and calm, which made the fact that it was only for a couple of hours a little annoying. Why can't it be like that on really long trips?

As we approached Sandringham we sailed past Middle Brighton Beach, which I'll go into a little more down the page. This was one of the places that cemented my choice of berths. There were some terribly swish houses along the beachfront. Cha-ching!

 Having previously rung about the berth, we were told where to temporarily tie up whilst we made all the arrangements. Problem one, someone was already tied up where we were supposed to be and problem two, we couldn't hurriedly see anywhere else that was suitable and so a snap decision was made to tie up to the fuel dock. "No, we don't need fuel, thank you all the same... No, we won't be there for long."  Mind you, a familiar scene unfolded when the first person to see the boat just had to have a long chat about her and once again we relished the praise on our choice of vessel.

We organised the berth, took the boat over and tied up then wandered over to the club to check it out and pick up the gate key. On the way we passed the large, long dead skeleton of a submarine that had been scuttled many years  before and was now used as a reef in the marina. It was both creepy and fascinating as I watch fish and other sea life moving about the rusted spines of the beast.

While we were standing about waiting for the key in the opulent reception area of the $12.75m SYC Clubhouse, we noticed that Prince Phillip (yes the Queen's hubby) became SYC's Commodore in Chief on the 25th January 1980and had been named Marina of the Year 2013 - 2014. Ooooooooh.... la de daaaaa!

After we got the key we went up the wide, sweeping staircase to the bar. I asked for a Cruiser, but apparently they don't keep anything so common. Instead the barmaid (who was snooty as buggery) asked if I wanted a mixer. I opted for straight Coke instead.  We sat out on the huge balconied area, sipping our drinks and quietly having a dig at the 'beautiful people' who seemed to frequent the club, then slipped down the outside staircase to go back to the boat.

On the way I decided to visit the ablutions facilities, expecting opulence all the way. Well.... my expectations and reality couldn't have been further apart. The 'public' showers and toilets were pretty daggy to say the least. The ladies loos looked as though they had been out of action for night time use for quite a long time as the faded, sagging and torn hand written "electrical fault - lights not working" sign on the door indicated.  Painted concrete walls, mould, cobwebs, dripping taps and running toilets. It really changed my ideas about the place in a split second. I doubted that any of the upper crust ever saw this part of it. It was a real disappointment but then again, we weren't paying much. Just as well really or I may have had grounds for complaint.  As it is, I ended up having to use the equally daggy single disabled facilities for my shower but the water was hot, and that's all that mattered really.

The morning started with my sudden plan to get a puppy for the boat, or maybe even two so that they could keep each other company, so I assaulted Dave with the idea. To say he was uneasy about the idea was an understatement as I explained the pros of having a dog on board and my plans to visit animal shelters, names I had chosen, the type of dog I felt would work in such a small space etc, etc. I could almost see the sweat popping out on his brow as he began to fidget and tried to talk me out of it. I kept him going for a good while and then decided to remind him of the date by pointing out that he names I'd chosen were April and Fool. If relief was palpable, I'd have seen it come out of every single pore! Nyuck, nyuck!

Today the bikes came out as we planned to see what Sandringham had to offer. Turns out that Sandringham itself is about as boring as bat guano (unless bat guano happens to be your thing. Then, of course, I imagine it's possibly somewhat interesting.) We stopped at a local bakery and unwittingly bought one of the most expensive pasties in history ... $34 for a a can of coke and a coffee, a pastie for Dave and a small quiche for me with a 'salad' consisting of a tiny shred of lettuce, a couple of cherry tomatoes and a sliver of cucumber. That makes the 'meals' around $13 - $14 each... and not even any chips. Ripoff!!

We made sure we licked up every single costly crumb off of the plate in order to get our money's worth and then donned the helmets once more to take a ride along the esplanade. The weather was warm (31 degrees) and so the plan was to just go a little way and then come back.

Fire boat spraying water off Middle Brighton Beach
View of the Breakwaters towards Middle Brighton

The problem is that at Middle Brighton Beach (told you I'd get there), about 4km away, is the rare sight of beach boxes that were built over a century ago and it's one of the places I wanted to see. But it's hot, but I want to see them, but it's reeeeeally hot and they're 4km away, but I still want to see them.... what to do???

Biker Nan waiting in the shade

An interesting sculpture on the way back

So we rode the 4km, looked at the boxes, took piccies, came back and collapsed. A shower and a Nana nap were never so welcome.

Our trip today was in a different direction, on mixed transport, as we took the bikes onto the train for the first time. We were heading for Frankston and the annual Sand Sculpture display. So, a train from Sandringham station to South Yarra and, with bikes in tow, change trains at South Yarra to get to Frankston. Even by train, it was a reasonably long trip (over an hour) but luckily they were running on time and none of the carriages were full. We were fairly lucky with the weather because even though it rained on and off for most of the day, we managed to avoid it for the most part.

When we arrived we went across the curved footbridge and into a small park that had some wonderful little sculptures in it. They were so cute,

The footbridge

The sand sculptures themselves were AWESOME. It's certainly a lot different from your normal sand castles but I can imagine that that's where many of these sand artists started. It really made me want to go to a beach and build something. The Sand Sculpture display features different themes each year and began its life at Glenelg in SA before it moved to Frankston. 3,500 tonnes of sand is carved  by a bunch of talented Aussie artists and during the season there are other displays and demos plus hands on stuff to do. It's worth a visit. This year's theme was STORYLAND.

And yet more!


Photo: The best for last.

Seaford Wetlands and birds

We watched the water-birds that were paddling and feeding nearby and then decided to ride around the wetlands and do a bit of exploration. However, as we rode we discovered that there really wasn't a lot to see and it was mostly fenced off and the rain had started again and the decision to abort the mission was sudden and mutual. Bugger riding in the rain. We ended up back at the shelter until the rain stopped and then returned to the station only slightly bedraggled.

For some reason it was decided to get off the train early, at Highett station and cycle the 4km back to Sandringham. It was another really long day but so worth it.

Location: Hampton VIC 3188, Australia
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