24 April 2020
LITTLE FOOTPRINTS - THUNDERPOINT TO SHELLY BEACHby LEAH TATTI
My husband and I keep mentioning to one another that never have we noticed so many people, couples and families out walking, riding their bikes, just out and about exercising or simply enjoying the fresh air. Granted it’s probably because they’re usually at work or school but they’re probably also out and about because there is only so much literal ‘staying home’ one can do before it starts to feel like the walls are closing in on you. The government has listed exercise as a necessary reason to leave your home and it seems people are taking full advantage of that, as we all should be. Never before has exercise fallen more smack bang in the self care category than right now and never has it been better for our mental health to be outdoors, drinking in fresh air and moving our bodies. And let’s spare a thought for our little people. Never before have our children felt more restriction on their innate need and desire to roam free and explore, as they are currently deprived of most of their usual outlets. Our young adventurers, unable to understand why their world has suddenly shrunk, still need their physical activity just as much as we do, still need connection to nature to ground them, still need to satisfy their thirst for adventure in some way.
So today, we packed up our 3 year old and 8 month old, loaded up with snacks and headed to Thunder Point. We popped our littlest lady in our MACPAC baby carrier and our biggest explorer had his running shoes on, literally, he was so excited to be going somewhere other than around the block that he ran the majority of the way to Shelly Beach. The path is plenty wide most of the way, gravel underfoot and with just one or two small inclines. Along the way there is the occasional seat if weary little legs need a rest stop. After a short walk in, veering to the left, is a lookout spot marked by 2 white timber posts leaning against each other in an A-Frame. For some, this shorter distance may be far enough to stretch the legs, admire the scenery and get your exercise fix, especially for those with very young children who are insistent on walking. For those who continue on, Shelly Beach isn’t too far away. During the walk, at times you’re surrounded by the coastal shrubs with only the sound of the ocean hinting that it’s over your shoulder. At other times you’re looking out on breathtaking coastline, rolling, breaking waves and a horizon that reminds you how small we really are. Closer towards the beach the path does narrow, a pram or bike trailer would likely struggle or be unable to cruise through these sections. However, anyone with a bike with a child seat attached would be able to enjoy the ride all the way to Shelly Beach.
Our little Forest Gump had slowed up on arrival at the beach (yes, we were already wondering if he was going to make the return leg or if we’d be carrying an extra 15kgs!) and our tiny lady was happy to have some time out of the backpack. What is the first thing one does upon arrival on sandy shores? Removes socks and shoes of course. Whilst the initial landing area is more of a rocky ledge than a sandy shore, there are enough little spaces that will provide sensory experiences for eager little hands and feet. Families with older children had made their way down to the shore littered with tiny shells, exploring closer to the waters edge.
We snacked, we watched the waves break from all directions, listened to the seabirds, sifted through the sand and took some deep breaths, we appreciated the heck out of this change of scenery. As we headed back home we counted our blessings that this incredible coastline is our backyard in Warrnambool. It’s a backyard without boundaries, open for all to explore and enjoy; just bring your camera, walking shoes and gratitude to mother nature, always.