25 Things // Mushroom Reef

I turned 26 while struggling to stay awake in an airport (How fitting.) two months ago, and I have a confession. I never finished my list of “25 Things to Do Before I Turn 26.” By the end there I was having a hard time and needed one less thing to think about. I did finish 18 things from the list, however, and I’ll continue blogging them. So here I go. This and other adventures from the list will be labeled with the 25 Things category.

One of my favorite accomplishments from the list of 25 Things took place on January 26, Australia Day, the same day I had a near run-in with a snake that is apparently deadly. Oops. Luckily there were no snakes at Mushroom Reef (West Head Beach) on Mornington Peninsula. The peninsula has a reputation for hot springs, and I’d been once with friends to see an art exhibit. My impression of the area was “organized/whipped into shape,” and that didn’t urge me to visit again. I like wild. Fortunately for me, I was browsing the Parks Victoria website, as you do, and realized that Mornington Peninsula has heaps of trails. There’s a whole national park! That’s when I found Mushroom Reef.

The name attracted me, of course. When I got there myself, the pictures I’d seen barely do any sort of justice to it. I really wanted to explore from both Ocean Beach and the beach at West Head, but I’d already dealt with a wallaby crashing through the bush right in front of me (OK, I loved that.) on Baldry Crossing, soon followed by narrowly avoiding a poisonous snake and the consequent running away from it that led to my getting lost. (It is really not a complicated trail.). The pumping adrenaline tired me out. Only West Head Beach was to be.

One important note: to get to the reef you must use a set of very steep stairs that seems to go on forever. I truly hate sharp inclines/declines. In fact, one of my other activities from the list has shifted to the “never do it again” category because of that. In this case, though, I’d do it many more times to get up close and personal with Mushroom Reef again. Scroll on to find out why.

Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

 

Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

 

The majority of other visitors stayed above the beach at the lookout. I’m guessing most people didn’t want to traverse the steep stairs. The small crowd you see in some of the pictures is one vivacious, boisterous Italian family. They were the smart ones, picnicking on a beach all to themselves on a national holiday. The only thing I questioned was their decision to let a 10 year old play by himself in frighteningly strong waves…but he made it out so all good. 

Anemones the size of American quarters/Australian 20-cent pieces. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

Anemones the size of American quarters/Australian 20-cent pieces. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

 

More tiny anemones; one in hiding, one saying hello. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

More tiny anemones; one in hiding, one saying hello. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

 

I loved this streak of...minerals?...under my feet. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

I loved this streak of…minerals?…under my feet. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

Actually, the water was so powerful and came to my ankles so quickly that I was glad that Italian family was there.

“At least someone will witness my death and give a complete police report,” I thought. And at least I’d had the chance to wander across a mushroom shaped rock formation and into heady waves that seemed to go on forever, spotting tiny creatures in the nooks and crannies beneath my feet. At least I’d picked up colorful, whimsical seashells from the hot sand; brushed my fingers over rough and smooth rock formations.

Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

 

Australia Day 032

Rocks at my feet, Italian family in the distance. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

 

I climbed all over these rocks until waves swept in with the speed of an angry cheetah. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

I climbed on these rocks until waves swept in with the speed of an angry cheetah. Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

 

See what I mean? Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

See what I mean? Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

 

Fortunately the Italian family wasn’t bothered with having to witness my demise. I made it safely to and from the reef! Just look at this. New favorite view. I can’t wait for summer to arrive in the southern hemisphere so I can go back.

Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

Mushroom Reef at West Head Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Australia.

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