Kevin’s year of verse

Kevin Moran unveiled his annual Willy Dolphin poem at the Willy Dolphins’ annual breakfast on Monday morning, 22 December, at the Rotunda.

Rotunda Cafe, Williamstown

I will share with you the chatter that went on throughout the year; the topics didn’t matter because none of it was clear. Messages by email, floated through cyber space; egos couldn’t be frail, it was about saving face.

Some jibes were insulting, others a slur; some sounded funny, adding a stir. Feathers were ruffled with “chooks on the block”; suggesting that others might be a coft sock. Names were called and challenges invited; it was clear, they were getting excited.

We discovered new poets and writers of prose; all very clever, as far as that goes. Tom was deep, which surprises, quoting wild wind and beautiful sunrises. The Willy Lit Fest sparked even more verse, the situation was getting worse. Lester penned enlightened prose, of the swimmers, whom he knows. He sent “home remedies” and health tips and updated news of his overseas trips.

The Big Bay swim was on the agenda; Tom would swim well if he was not on a bender. Lester was timid, didn’t think he’d survive; out in the sewer, where the jellyfish thrive.

After the swim on Australia Day; having a barbie is our special way, of celebrating a great occasion; to be reminded by the owners, it was an invasion.

Away from the beach we socialize; exchanging rumours that tantalise. One of note is of a flirt; labeled as “grandpa chasing a skirt”. He played Cupid, which may seem nice, but then he had to pay a price. Of the evils, which is lesser – upset a friend; or, lose your hairdresser.

Beach photo

We all lined up for the photo snap, when someone asked, “Who’s that chap?” – The line up on the shore that day, featured more than one odd stray. Mark came up with a scheme, to have T shirts with a theme. Willy Dolphins was selected; they just cost more than expected

Many events occurred in May; one was that the buoy got away. It hadn’t floated out of reach, recovery found it on the beach. Dan took shots when he came down, Vin declaring, “The buoy is back in town”.

Winter came with a blow and it saw absences grow. Kimba was the first we missed, and then Tom went on the list. By July the morning chill, was a test of the will. Pam persevered, so we are told and wore rubber gloves, to beat the cold. Then Search and Rescue one foggy day, stopped Chop heading down the bay. Pam saw a duck, or so she thought; wearing a snorkel, Vin was caught.

The lure of the islands took its toll; as Dolphins were struck from the roll. Dolphins travelled far and near; with regularity they’d disappear. Moonlit lagoons and places exotic saw Lester dress up in something erotic. Dancing around, “what an old tart” romance of the Solomons stole his heart.

His absence was long, and duly noted; his risqué emails often quoted. He added Hawaii to his travel plan, to see daughter Rosie win an ironman. Bali attracted Paul and Pam, while Kevin coffeed in Viet-nam. Chop played in Phuket a while; all returned with a smile. But John’s warm wishes from hot places left us with sad, long faces.

Rice fields in Sapa

Rice fields in Sapa, Vietnam

A pair of comedians in dressing gowns pranced around like a pair of clowns. They weren’t in for long as they felt the pain, you can be sure we won’t see them again.

Pat tipped an ice bucket on his head, accepting the challenge is what he said. He put it to Kev, who did the same, out of fun to play the game. Vin posted a blog to spread about town, saying “one warming up and one cooling down”.


The early dawns are always topical, now palm trees make it look tropical.

With the year now at an end, we wish happiness to you my friend.

Quoting Tom of what he might say, “The sunrise paints the start of another day.”


Williamstown beach


– Kevin Moran, 22 December 2014

Day 365 – not drowning, waving goodbye

Day 365   Saturday 1 June 2013

Exit sign at Williamstown beach

No marching bands. No media mayhem. No merchandise. Not surprising, really.

365 Swims completed its less-than-epic year of dips at 7.30 last Saturday morning, the first day of winter.

Walter and I huffed and puffed through the water and the rain as far as the Forster Street rocks, and then back again, followed by breakfast at the Rotunda, overlooking the water and the rain. (And, appropriately, there was a swimmer out near the buoys.)

Karen (the swimmer of darkness) and her son Jack arrived just as we were leaving, Karen mentioning she is counting the days to the winter solstice, after which  the mornings will, incrementally, begin to lighten.

I’ll keep going for a daily  dip but the 365 Swims blog has run its course. Time  to concentrate on music, sport and life in general.

Thanks to everyone for your company, comments, and  contributions.  They have been very much appreciated.

It’s been fun. I wish you all the best.

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Week 51 – a second snorkeller

Week 51 – Saturday 18 May to Friday 24 May 2013

rocks and snorkelling gear

Jawbone Reserve last summer.

On Thursday 23 May (day 356 of the 365 Swims) I opted for a midday spot of swimmng-with-the-snorkel. Lo and behold, there was another midday snorkeller at Williamstown, keeping the head down and gliding across to Sirens. And back. The second snorkeller had flippers and a wetsuit, so was in the cold water for quite a while. We didn’t quite cross paths but it was reassuring to know someone else dons the snorkel for their swimming. Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on. Maybe there’ll be snorkelling categories at the next Olympics. Maybe not.

Meanwhile there will apparently be a king tide in Williamstown on Sunday 26 May. 4.15pm  Could be worth a look, even a dip in the deep. More details at Green Cross Australia.

Scoreboard: 357 swims down, 8 to go.


Week 42 – Sirens

Week 42    Saturday 16 March to Friday 22 March

Sirens restaurant in Williamstown

Williamstown beach

The Sirens restaurant is at the eastern end of the Williamstown beach. I’ve got a hunch – based on no evidence whatsoever – that it might be more popular with visitors than locals.  It was a dilapidated, abandoned, vandalised building – change rooms, I guess –  for many years. About 20 years ago it was the location for a ghost-story in the children’s series Around The Twist.

Toilet signs at Sirens

Scrubby bush at beach

About 100 years ago this part of the beach featured private hot sea baths, until a sizable storm in 1922 huffed and puffed and blew everything down.

I’ve been snorkelling a little off Sirens lately. Just mooching around, not expecting to find anything.

This week’s dips:
Saturday 16/3. 7.30am. Chicken Channel, supposedly reserved strictly for old blokes -especially skinny old blokes wearing a snorkel – is invaded by rubber-men, triathletes churning up the water. Busier than Bourke St.
Sunday 17/3. 7.30am. High tide. Big southerly winds. Beach all to myself. Where are you rubber-men now? Where are your wetsuits and your watches and your caps and your perfect techniques?
Monday 18/3. 12.50pm. Low tide. Fairly clear.
Tuesday 19/3. 6pm. A little choppy.
Wednesday 20/3. 4.30pm. Low tide. Clear. Mooching about near Sirens.
Thursday 21/3. 4.30pm. A howling cool northerly. Serious wind. But the water is relatively calm. Almost flat. Rain spatters the water. Get happily soaked riding home.
Friday 22/3. 4.30pm. Calm. Pottering around off Sirens.

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Week 41 – missed swim in Singapore

Week 41   Saturday 9 March to Friday 15 March 2013

Pool at Singapore Airport

Singapore Airport. A missed opportunity.

After a farewell dip on Saturday morning  9 March at our very own Hanoi Hilton, I headed back to Williamstown via Singapore. A friend had mentioned there was a pool at the Singapore Airport and while I had packed togs and a little towel into my hand-luggage when I was heading to Vietnam, I didn’t for the return journey. Not sure why.  Which left me with five hours to ponder the lost opportunity. The pool is at Terminal 1 of the airport and charges $13.91 (Singapore dollars.) Five hours between flights, and my togs were probably already on their way to Melbourne. Five hours and I was too cheap to buy another pair. Imagine how many laps I could have done in five hours. (Not many if you’ve seen what a poor swimmer I am. I’m a five-minute dipper, if that.) Five hours of night-time swimming. Ah, well, there’s always next time. (Do other airports offer such swimming facilities? Let me know.)

We got back to a warm Williamstown about midday on Sunday 10 March. I headed down to Jawbone Marine Sanctuary about 3pm. The water was fairly clear and absolutely gorgeous the next day. To my surprise Jawbone on Tuesday was very ordinary, despite the weather conditions seeming to be very good. The week concluded with short dips at the Williamstown beach.


Murky waters in Williamstown. Illustration by Andrew Baird, from the January 2003 edition of The Mariner


Next week: triathletes clogging up Chicken Channel!


Week 36 – Fleming’s pool, Altona

Week 36   Saturday 2 February to Friday 8 February 2013

Fleming pool at Altona

Fleming’s pool is not a pool at all, but that’s okay. This little wading/dipping/snorkelling spot is at the eastern end of Altona beach, pretty much at the end of Millers Road. A 20 minute ride from Williamstown beach.

The historical marker tells us that the Fleming family came to Altona 99 years ago and lived in Blyth St, about 200 yards from the water. The Altona population back then was all of 20. (Plenty of space for a dip, though in those Victorian  days there were rather strict rules about bathing in public.)

The Flemings were quite community minded and judging by the size of the family probably rather bolstered the population.

Fleming family photo

The historical marker suggests the Fleming family home might have been the closest residence to the water.

I went snorkelling at (in?) Fleming’s pool back in mid-January on a 37 degree day. The water was clear and shallow (the water is always shallow at Altona)  but the fish must have been having a nap. As I peeled off my wetsuit and assorted snorkelling paraphernalia a woman in black shorts and pink singlet waded into the water with a German shepherd. Then, as I was packing away my gear another woman in black shorts and pink singlet was walking her German shepherd along the footpath. Is there some Altona by-law about dress-code and owning German shepherds?

Looking east from Fleming's pool

Looking east from Fleming’s pool

Sign about Fleming's pool

Meanwhile, the past week’s swims have all been in Williamstown, as far as I can recall. Dawn, mid-morning, afternoon. And the numbers are now 251 dips, 114 to go. As for the serious swimmers at Willi, they’re getting ready for the Port Melbourne to Williamstown 3.2k swim on Sunday 24 February. I reckon I’d collapse after about the .2 part of the 3.2 kilometres.

Next week: Melbourne’s answer to the Gold Coast.



Week 27 – the other side

Week 27 – Saturday 1 December 2012 to Friday 7 December 2012

Photo from beach pavilion

The Willy Dolphins, and other year-round swimmers, nearly always swim from the life-saving club side of the Williamstown beach. There are good reasons for this: you’re close to car-parking, close to the water, and  the rising sun shines on you as you dry and dress.

But there is another side to the Williamstown beach. You could call it the Sirens side,  home of the Sirens restaurant and Rotunda cafe. Or the fishing club side. Or the picnic pavilion side. (The photo above is taken from the picnic pavilion, with just a glimpse of Sirens on the right and, way over on the left-hand corner,  the life-saving club.)

Beach and small rocks

Another reason for nearly always swimming from the life-saving side of the beach is that there are rocks over on the other side: okay for snorkelling at high tide but no good for wading and swimming, especially at low tide.

ripples and water

I’ve had a few dips the past week from the other side: partly for a bit of variety, partly because lately – with the onset of summer – it’s been getting pretty crowded over by the life-saving club. As well as the regulars, there are now all sorts of johnny-come-latelys, especially  triathlon groups zipping up each other’s wetsuits and then swinging their arms round and round, and boot-campers lugging not just their bodies and souls but  tyres and ropes and poles. They are all welcome, of course. I have the privilege of being able to come down here each and every day.

Swimming target: 365 successive dips
So far:                     189 successive dips
Still to come:         176 successive dips.