What was Matthew Flinders thinking?
He stands on top of a mountain overlooking the bay and peers through his spy glass toward the Bellarine Peninsula.
“Why, it looks like a human head!” he shouts to his companions. “Only, it’s sort of flat there as though it has been impacted by a cannon ball or thumping fist. I shall call it Indented Head.”
Dark, Flinders. Dark.
I’m only half making that up. It’s based on a true story.
Skip to the future and it’s a sunshiny day. We intend to go on a picnic to the Borough of Queenscliffe, but when we skim the map, we find an absurdly named neighbour. How can we not laugh and wonder what’s there? Because Indented Head.
Despite the ominous title, it’s actually a beautiful, quiet, family beach. It’s unaffected by the angry city hordes who fight for towel space on the sand.
It’s a simple pleasure and it’s hard to believe it still exists in the greater Melbourne area.
When we get there, I can’t believe that I can park anywhere on the grassy roadside. I look around for the catch. Where’s the signage? Where are the rules? It’s a bit sad, really. I’ve become so urban that I’m anxious about residential only, time limited, fine-your-arse-if-you’re-late parking zones and there’s no such thing. Not here.
It’s a lovely, seaside town set up in every way for picnickers, campers and holidaymakers.
Yes, this place still exists in the world and no, it’s not the sleepy, idyllic setting of a dark horror film. At least, I don’t think so, despite Flinders’ naming efforts.
With its painted stairs, yellow beaches, white sails, picturesque wreckage, jetty and rockpools, it feels like we’re stepping into the sunny beach of our vaguely remembered childhoods. It feels like we’re stepping onto the beach sold to people during the drab, grey, darkness of winter.
We’re in a postcard now, except there’s ants on the beach trying to get into our cheese.
We spend the afternoon lazing on the blanket in the cool shadow of the bluff. A couple of kids try to jump down to the beach near us and the first one cries out when he lands on rock, not sand. They laugh at him because his feet hurt. He trots off after them. He’s fine, even if his ego is bruised.
The sun is low, so we pack up our picnic and take a wander along the beach toward the jetty. The tide is out, exposing rocks and seaweed. The birds are loving it.
It’s magical. There’s even a fairytale moon rising above the sunset hue.
We don’t really want to leave, but it’s an hour and forty minutes’ drive back to the city where we have to be adults again and there are things like rules and parking fines.