Sunday 23 May 2021. It was a lovely sunny Sunday and time once again to visit Point Cook Coastal Park. We set off along Geelong Road and were soon pulling into the carpark in front of the old Point Cook Homestead. Today we intended walking to the Tower, a viewing platform located on the southern boundary of the Ramsar-listed Cheetham Wetlands. This Point Cook Coastal Park landmark offers spectacular, panoramic views over the lagoons and saltmarshes of Cheetham Wetlands, and across Port Phillip Bay to the skyscrapers of central Melbourne. The Tower was commissioned in 1995 and opened in 1997 as a monument to migration and aspirations. It symbolises and celebrates equally the migration of peoples and the migration of the scores of species of shorebirds that fly to and from Cheetham Wetlands each year. It has been recognised internationally “for its messages on migratory birds, migration and reconciliation” (Point Cook Coastal Park and Cheetham Wetlands Future Directions, June 2005).
From the carpark we passed through a gate to the start of the gravel track that would take us to the Tower, a walk of one-and-a-half kilometres. Almost immediately we came upon a pair of keen hobby photographers (or pros for all I know) bedecked in two enormous cameras and an industrial pair of binoculars. They were busy shooting a Brown Falcon sitting obligingly atop a dead tree. Excruciatingly photogenic. I felt less than adequate with my antiquated Fujifilm S1800 (it might as well have been a Box Brownie) but snapped away regardless. Sadly the outcome was unpublishable. Leaving the photographers behind, we followed the gravel track around to the left, while a smaller path continued straight. Had we taken this one we would have arrived at the beach, part of the Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary (yes, with an ‘e’).
Heading north now, we continued along the gravel track, wide open vistas on either side. To the west (our left), the coastal park stretched away into the distance. To the east (our right), the view was at first obscured by coastal scrub, but soon opened out onto Port Phillip Bay and across to the Melbourne skyline.
Running off the gravel track was a smaller path leading to a gate. We entered and followed the path through sub–Cheetham Wetlands habitat to the Tower.
A boardwalk protects sections of the habitat.
A series of plaques lines the final approach to the Tower. The plaques draw parallels between the migratory movements of peoples and those of birds.
We reached the Tower and climbed the winding steps that lead to a small upper platform. The views were fabulous.
We could see over Cheetham Wetlands and beyond, to the city skyline across Port Phillip Bay in the northeast, and, due east, to Melbourne’s eastern bayside suburbs. With top-notch binoculars and camera (such as our Brown Falcon photographers had) one could perhaps photograph the bathing boxes of Brighton.
The wetland landscape’s many shades of red, brown, yellow and green were quite beautiful. Sadly they are very inadequately captured here…
We began our walk back to the carpark. We took the path heading west, which met the main gravel track at a point north of the turnoff to the gate, thus completing a small circuit. Back on the gravel track we ambled slowly to the carpark. In the late afternoon sun the landscape looked even lovelier.
For a moment I looked back at the Tower. There were our two photographers, no doubt scouting for picture opportunities. After a moment of envy I turned away and joined the others.