I’m not one to leave things to chance. With 23 hours of flying it seemed simple – reset the clock the second we sat down on the plane, which made it evening in Australia, sleep for the first plane to Singapore then stay awake for the day-time let to Australia.
Easy. No jet lag.
So why, at 3am on our first full day in the country are we both wide awake?
We had arrived in the country at 1715 yesterday, spent an evening out eating Greek food and chasing possums and got to bed at a reasonable time, but still our bodies think 3am is a good time to spring in to life.
Well, sometimes it’s best not to argue with nature!
As with everything, you’ve just got to embrace the positives of the situation. One person’s jet lag, if another’s chance to see the sunrise over one of the greatest cities on earth.
So that’s what we did….
We left the apartment at 0615 and headed out to see the dawn.
This is the route we took, starting at Quest Apartments, before heading down and along the coast before heading up through Williamstown.
We’d been out for a quick walk the night before, but given we’d only arrived in Williamstown after dark, we didn’t get to see much of the town. Despite the lack of sleep, I was pretty excited to get out and see the place we were hoping to call home for the next few years.
We swung a left out of our apartment, past some ugly dockside buildings with a vague plan of getting to what looked like a little nature reserve on the map, that would allow us to look east towards the sunrise.
I love early mornings, but they are eerily quiet, and every rustle of leaves had me checking the shadows for a cold-blooded, venomous surprise that might spring out and make me front page news.
LOCAL HERO SNAKEBITES POM, AWARDED MEDAL
FOR SERVICES TO AUSTRALIA
It is the big worry everyone has about coming to Australia. If it’s deadly, it’s in Australia. The world’s most poisonous….
- Fish (Stonefish)
- Snake (Taipan)
- Spider (Funnel Web)
- Jellyfish (Box Jellyfish)
- Mammal (Duck-Billed Platypus)
- And even (yes you’re reading it right) the world’s most poisonous snail (Cone Snail)
….like to hang out here.
The good news is though, that despite all this, it’s actually pretty safe in Australia. With wide access to anti-venom and most deadly snakes miles away from anyone else out in the bush, there have been less than 40 deaths in the last 20 years, and 20% of those are apparently people who were trying to pick up the snake!
Even so, I wasn’t taken any chances!
Our first view back over the city was simply breathtaking. As we got down to the coast by the Timeball Tower, we looked back to see a container ship coming in, and a narrow strip of deep peach-coloured light slowly rising over the silhouetted skyscrapers. The air was still, and despite it still being well before 7am, it was warm enough to sit without getting cold.
So we did….
Despite it being so early, the ‘too fit for their own good’ Aussies were out in force. There were dog walkers, joggers, cyclists all making the most of the morning. It turns out today was actually Anzac Day, a public holiday celebrated on the 25th April each year remember all those who have served in the military. These commemorations start with dawn services across the country, so I guess it was busier than usual as people got up early to watch or take part in the services. It is odd for us Brits to think of having a public holiday mid-week, but it’s fairly normal in other parts of the world. It also meant that over here there have been three holidays in five days, with Good Friday and Easter Monday in the same week. Many people have taken the time to head away, as they can take 10 days of by only using 3 day’s leave!
We carried on walking, up through Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park, a strip of land by the sea which has been protected to stop development. It was the landing place for the first non-native settlers to Victoria, and was the first seaport. It is now full of life, with black swans, gulls and parrots sounding their morning calls as we came through.
At the end of the coastal park is the Williamstown Seagulls Aussie Rules club. I’d never realised quite how big Aussie Rules pitch were, being played on what looks like a cricket pitch, they take a huge amount of space. Williamstown are a smaller club who play in the state rather than the Australian league, but they’re local, so win my allegiance! Whether they’re good or not, their logo is what can only be described as a steroid-juiced seagull flexing its muscles Mr Universe style. What’s not to like?!
I always thought the words dawn and sunrise meant the same thing, but there is a subtle difference. If you look on any popular weather app, it will tell you the sunrise time for that day, but dawn is actually the transition from night to day that happens before. For a good 3/4 of an hour before we fully saw the sun the light had started, so we’d almost made it to Williamstown Beach by the time the sun had fully risen. I got the photo above from the jetty at the Williamstown Angler’s Club.
I’ve never lived in a town with a beach before – being over 100 miles from the coast probably contributed somewhat – but even as someone who isn’t really drawn to beaches this was something quite special. Ceilinged by patchy cloud tinged with red morning light, the sand seemed to glow. It was already being used, with swimmers from the club located at the far end bravely heading out into the cold waters. A group of cyclists were meeting outside a little coffee and pastry kiosk, feeling themselves ahead of a long ride up the coast.
I’m not a beach fan, but this kind of lifestyle could easily grow on me. The good weather, stunning coastline and good coffee is certainly not a hard sell.
After the beach we headed up through Williamstown, to look have a kerbside peer at a couple of rental properties we wanted to view. The ‘estates’ are amazing to walk through. Wide streets with big footpaths, lined with trees filled with parakeets that make it sound like a jungle.
The houses themselves are a real smorgasbord of different designs. The original wooden cottages stand beautiful with their ornate front porches, but every so often one has been removed and replaced with a tasteful built ultra-modern building. These are not the cookie-cutter style estates we get back in the UK, but a truly unique mix of houses that is different on every street.
One small interesting point was that the schools are all left unlocked to allow local people to use the facilities when the kids aren’t there. The outdoor basketball courts, football pitches and running tracks are all accessible. I can’t imagine this happening in the UK, ours are all locked behind tall slotted metal fences, visible, but out of reach for fear of vandalism.
After a decent walk, we had doubled back on ourselves, and got back to the harbour front. Williamstown has dual aspects, one side with the beach looking south and this side with the harbour looking out east over to Melbourne. Amazingly, this is all one huge bay but you have to zoom out quite a while on Google Maps to realise it.
This side is brilliantly set up for walkers and runners with pathways along the harbourside, that go for kilometres in each direction out to Altona and Newport. Very so often you come across a water fountain or free ‘dog poop bag’ station, all of which are a nod to the outdoor lifestyle here, and are free services provided by the local council. Really handy, especially for someone who’s just got back in to running. Taking a water bottle out on a hot run is really awkward, so it’s really a very useful solution!
Having completed our 10,000 steps before 8am we were back at the apartment, and ready to spend a day desperately fighting off the jet lag!