The beach house is at the pointy end of the peninsula with a tame bay on one side and a wild ocean on the other.
Further up the peninsula, at the fat end, on the ocean side, there's another bay. To get there, you drive up into the hills of the peninsula past houses hanging off the sides of steep slopes like trinkets on a Christmas tree. After a while you reach the top and the slow descent to the other side begins. The road picks its way through rises and valleys laced with vineyards here, orchards there. Occasionally a massive stand of ancient pine trees; windbreaks planted by early farmers. Crest a hill and you'll get a sudden thrill of blue - the crystal clear sea beyond the broken coast. Bass Strait, one of the most violent stretches of water in the world. Looks calm today.
At last everything flattens out and a couple of seaside towns disappear in the rear vision mirror and then you're in the quietest village on the whole peninsula, because you don't go through it to get to anywhere else. It's my family's favourite summer haunt.
1959 memory #1: the holiday house had no bath so my mother bathed me in the stream, lowering me backwards. I didn't feel so much frightened as kind of awkward, like rolling backwards downhill in a car that you think has no brakes. I must have been two.
1959 memory #2: on the beach. My mother was all glamourous '50s sunglasses and bikini, reclining like a starlet on a striped beach towel under a tasselled beach umbrella with a jar of sun lotion, a drink and some book or other. Suddenly my sister's head disappeared under the water - just like that - and I shouted. The book flew one way and my mother flew into the water and her sunglasses flew another way and she grabbed my sister and got her up on the beach and first she hugged her and cried and said thank god your brother shouted then she smacked her and scolded her for going too far out in the water. I love the way mothers have mood swings like that. The event lives on in family history as The Day Mum Lost Her Sunglasses in the Sea and Saved My Sister (in that order!).
And now it's what, 47 years later and once again we're on that same beach - my mother, my sister, me. Along with my niece and her daughter and T. and William, all taking a long slow stroll on a long slow afternoon.
My sister has taken the house for a fortnight. You can see an arc of bay through the big picture window. It's as hot a day as you could have without the sun showing - the kind of sultry, humid weather that has everyone sitting around and dripping and looking out the window for signs of an offshore breeze. Nothing. The gum trees are shimmering in the heat and that's it. So after lunch - salmon and cheese sandwiches, a simple salad, fruit, nutloaf, coffee, tea - we take a stroll along the beach, a wild refuge of seaweed and driftwood and rockpools. You can see all the way to Cape Schanck and the villages in between are little smudges on the coast, just as they always were.
Later, we said goodbye and waved and pointed the car back through the wine country and the orchards and the pines. Then we reached the top of the peninsula overlooking Port Phillip Bay. In the grey haze, a ship was labouring down the bay towards the heads. It seemed to be going slower than they usually do, as if it were trying to cut its way through the humidity as well as the water.