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My Secret Pelican Beach

Home > Melbourne > Animals and Wildlife | Beaches | Free | Outdoor | Places of Interest
by Julia Hebaiter (aka Julia Svoice) (subscribe)
Highly qualified, established food & lifestyle writer, former restaurateur, founder professional writing business, Articul8. Long, diverse writing history, passion for food culture, the land & inspired food language.
Published January 30th 2021
And a manna ray for good measure
Where? Fijian tropical island? The lakes of New Zealand? Outback Australian billabong? While all possible, my secret pelican beach tucks away in suburban Melbourne, some seven, eight or more large, elegant birds gathering on the shore, swanning across water or, if I'm really lucky, soaring, wing-span sensational, long pink bills poking blue summer skies.

I write not of the magical Mornington Peninsula (technically Melbourne) but a local stomping ground, hidden away just west of a pier - easily accessible via a short stroll behind the yacht club, a few easy rocks scaled (hardly a metre) to land on a little alcove hugged by cliffs and a blue bay of water.

They're not about every day, these miracles of nature - natural things running their own way - but on a lucky day, if you round the rocks towards the pier (just 5 or so metres), and look for a white pipe that runs from the yacht club to the water, you might even see them gathered round the spout (and who wouldn't?) quibbling over the fish guts and heads sailing down the tube while local fishermen clean fish at the other end. Ingenious.

On a really great day, if dangling your feet in the water, look out - a huge manna ray possibly sailing by for a bite, ideally not of your toes - and only if the pelicans let him. It's really quite a spectacle, he, or she, not sure why we assume, sailing past on a four or five-minute cycle, scoring an eyeball or intestine if lucky. When I say huge, she's maybe two metres in diametre, dark grey, mysterious and elegant.

So, where? Like I said, it's a secret, so I can't just blurt it, so you'll have to dig a little deeper to the details below - but, whatever you do, don't tell anyone.
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Why? For bills that gulp fish like cannibals.
When: Daytime
Where: Beaumaris Yacht Club
Cost: An hour of your time
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