Lazy Luddite Log

8.1.12

Summer Holidays

I spent a week between Boxing Day and the start of 2012 in tents with friends at a camping and caravan park in Stony Point. This is an annual practice (at different locales) that I have participated in a number of times now and it is more becoming a part of my life. The setting in 2010-2011 even inspired some short fiction.

I started in 2006-2007 by only visiting for an afternoon and then somehow staying till the next day. Bit-by-bit I have allocated more of my holiday time to the event. Eventually it just becomes difficult to depart once I am there. Some of what follows is descriptive of what we did and some is an exploration of why such vacations may be significant to humans.

The Setting

Stony Point is a very different location from a Balnarring Beach or a Rosebud. It is a natural and legal cul-de-sac wedged between mangroves and military land and accessed by just one road and the last train station on a line. It is dominated by fishing and this diminishes the attractiveness of the beach itself. However the caravan park as a temporary home and the setting overall is very nice and relaxing and has a convenient old milkbar.

For me as an avid walker this felt a bit limiting till I discovered that there was a kind of bush track parallel with the railway line and that I could wander some distance into the mangroves. There I discovered a spot to stand around Dawn that was so very tranquil and centring for me. Tiny waves coursing with sunlight would gently lap in over my feet and I looked and listened and smelt beyond my own person. Lovely. More lovely still however was our slowly growing tent village back at camp.

The Pasttimes

Friends and friends of friends gathering and having a lazy old time in tents and camping furniture - this was the default activity of the week. Chatting. Eating. Drinking. Reading. Sketching. For a few days the group did nothing much more than this. Eventually however we started to take drives to assorted activities in groups of a few to several.

Wandering in supermarkets in Hastings seemed to be a key activity and it is a strangely fun thing to do with friends. Possibly friends make anything worthwhile. More vital however was submersion in water which I did in three distinct ways. One was the Peninsula Hot Springs which are cleverly constructed in such a way that every element - wood... stone... water... is calculated to make one feel mellow. There are pools of varying temperature and even a grotto in which we enjoy finding the resonant frequency and humming. Another site of watery joy was an ocean beach past Flinders in which I went looking at underwater habitats (eschewing the snorkling attire I had been offered for my trusty goggles). And the best of all was Somers Beach.

Somers was a location I went to many times as a child during extended family gatherings in hired holiday houses. It is a lovely beach that is neither too wild nor too tame and perfect for group play. It also pinged a memory for me with startling precision. The path from the carpark to the beach was once a winding bit of sand and now it is nicely constructed steps. Nonetheless at a particular bend in the path I suddenly remembered that that was the spot on which I had once been bitten by a bull ant. Wow. Luckily that experience never quashed my fondness for ants.

Eternal Summer

Why do modern-day lovers of convenience and security deliberately give some of that away (temporarily) on a regular basis? I was pondering this in some moments in Stony Point and have a few notions. There is always the old "getting back to nature" explanation and that is part of it. I also feel however there is a more specific aspect of nature at work. As our group got bigger the vibe changed from small intimate gathering that could sit in one big tent to a larger but still familiar "community" that would play catch with the resident toddler of the group.

The desire I think we are satisfying in such voluntary shanty towns across the Mornington Peninsula is a primal preference for community. There was a camaraderie and a sense of interdependence. The norm was to serve others as much as oneself - to help and be helped. This was well illustrated by collaborative tent constructions that felt like barn-raisings.

A group is always composed of distinct persons however and so I will end with a few personal thanks for enhancing my experience at Stony Point: To Varia for some sketching tips... Eleanor & Daniel for offering me gourmet home-cooked fare... Helen and Kat for shopping and philosophy... Belinda and Katrina for snorkling and a Southern Fiddler Ray... Stretch & Gaby for transport and Tintin... and Evil Sarah for facilitating the fun that we all then made for ourselves.

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