My day started at the Sticky Institute, fulfilling another of my new years resolutions to buy a few new zines per pay.

I had planned to peruse them on the train, but I just sat and stared as the city gave way to the suburbs, and the suburbs spread into factories, bushland and coastal scrub. The glimpses of turquoise water all rather exciting as the train made its way down the Mornington Peninsula.

Frankston had certainly been busy in the two decades since I’d last been there. It had a big shiny mall for one, where were the spittin and swearin youths? The cool second hand record store, the king of Savers stores? Nowhere to be seen – just paving and chain stores everywhere. It was a bit disorientating, as the whole focus of the place now seems to be the Bayside Shopping Centre, as opposed to the water.

But I soon found the water front, and quite soon after that found the Water Front Festival. There were carnies, rides, and the ubiquitous twisted potato on a stick tent – which seemingly has left Gozleme for dead as far as food choice people want to shove in their face whilst walking around fairgrounds goes.

There was a small stage to the side with ‘youth’ bands (that’s where they went!) another even smaller stage with even smaller performers – those ChildStar types – that dress and gesture and sing lyrics about adult life, but still get dropped off and picked up from primary school.

Then there was the particularly baffling ‘Swim With the Mermaids’ attraction, which had these two women of indeterminable age and unrealistic tails just sort of lying around and lolling about in about 15cm of water beside the pier, encouraging small children to get their photos with them.

Another lap of the festival and a lap of Frangers (as the locals call it) and I was about done, but found a bus going out to the Mornington Regional Gallery, so jumped aboard. The exhibition was On the Beach, and really terrific actually. Some really iconic photos (Max Dupain and Rennie Ellis) as well as some commentary and more challenging works regarding the place of the beach in Australian culture, particularly in light of the Cronulla Riots.

It inspired me to want to go to a beach at the very least. Got back to Frankston and was pondering a dip at Chelsea, but new years, new suburbs! gave Carrum a go instead. There’s not much doing as far as the strip of shops on the highway, just Thai and a fancyish cafe, but the beach itself is a little bottler. Big multi-coloured umbrellas give the entrance a jolly tropical resort vibe, the water is clear as if it came from a tap, the view sweeps out round the sand in each direction; the sun was on the last of its downwards descent over the bay, giving that crushed diamond sparkle to the water, and there was a wedding going on.

The water didn’t get past my knees deep until about 50 metres from shore and the waves just sort of gently swelled a bit and pushed forward, rather than breaking, so it was great swimming. Though the translucence of the water actually made me a bit more paranoid about what may be lurking within it, as you could see every little thing in there. Sometimes it’s just better not to know.

After a jolly great paddle, I ventured into Carrum proper. It was just a short strip of shops, but it felt communal, and all useful. I settled for the art deco-looking fish n chips and wandered along down to the park overlooking Pattersons Lakes for some alfresco dining. It felt nice walking around. There’s something about beachside areas, their houses seem to be outward looking, big windows, verandas, and outdoor furniture suggesting that having to actually be inside is an inconvenience rather than a choice.

A bit further along the park was the sports district, tennis courts and a beaut footy/cricket oval, which a movie has given me some apt vocabulary to describe – ‘A Field of Dreams’. There’s a pavilion bustling with mingling cricketers, former opponents now all together in the temporary brotherhood of post-game beers. Almost half the perimeter of the ground s filled with ads for local businesses ‘proudly’ sponsoring their local team, a lovely pine-tree backdrop down one end and gracefully aged old stands and scoreboards at the other.

Doing a bit of research and it was quite the dream. The area had a local footy team in some form since 1902, eight decades of playing in the local leagues netted them seven flags, but it all came to an end in 1996.A couple of likely local lads put some feelers out and 20 blokes showed up for kick-to-kick that Sunday, and it grew from there, 45 showed up for pre-season training and the Lions were reborn.

I had just enough time to squeeze in a pot at The Wishing Well, a homely local pub. It had two taps (VB and Carlton) a motley crowd of regulars, darts, a pool table, faded sporting memorabilia, one of those ‘Pick A Number’ machines and no doubt the echoes of decades of yarns and laughs told over the well propped up bar.


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