Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

18.12.07

South.

Sometimes you forget to look at the scenery.

I was driving south on the Nepean Highway out of Mt Eliza and behind Mt Martha towards Safety Beach. The road bears inland for a short way and then dips down and curves around in a wide arc, so that the view opens up like a curtain in a theatre. And you see the water.

Endless blue stretched away towards the southern peninsula. In the haze, a ship trudged up the horizon towards the city. Here the road turns back towards the bay along a ridge parallel with Martha Cove. This was the old way into Safety Beach and Dromana, before the freeway came; and houses hung on the cliff on both sides of the road enjoying the unchanging view. Now some of the older houses on the lower side are gone, bulldozed for the new development. A few cling on, like elderly aunts who refuse to go into the nursing home.

Two years ago, Martha Cove was just a long scar in the earth of an undeveloped section of the peninsula. Last year it heaved with excavators, and earthmoving trucks trailed in and out, looking like ants from up here on the ridge. Then they built a viaduct connecting the cove to Port Philip Bay and re-routed the coast road underneath, and the water flowed in.

I drove under the viaduct and gazed up at giant spikes, designed to look like sharks' teeth, or the strokes in dollar signs. In the pristine waterways of Martha Cove, brand new boats were tied up outside brand new two-storey houses. Reflected water was dancing in the sun on their walls.

I drove on through Dromana, and around the McCrae escarpment that was once a barrier to entry to the southern peninsula, in the days when the only way to reach Sorrento was by water and the steamboats ran daily from Melbourne. Now it's a ninety minute drive. Except in summer when everyone heads south. They should bring the boats back.

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