Gayle’s Story

I was born in 1956 and spent many of my formative years living in Razorback Road Flinders. I came to love the southern Mornington Peninsula and Westernport became my spiritual home and my refuge.

I was a competitive swimmer from a young age. My father would drive me to Rosebud at 4.30 am. I also used to swim in the pool at Cerberus Naval Base. When we lived in Murrumbeena in the 90’s I would rise and swim at Harold Holt Pool at 5 am every morning. 26 years ago, just for the fun of it, I entered the veterans swim comp at the Olympic Pool. I won the hundred metre freestyle! I also swam Pier to Pub and the Lorne race a few times. I loved my swimming.

25 years ago, I founded a business. I created a skin care range using indigenous flora. It became a range for the growing Day Spa industry. The product was entirely organic, and I operated on the mantra of ‘tread lightly ‘. I was privileged to be introduced to First Nation Elders who introduced me to healing plants and ancient healing practices. The business was successful and innovative. There was, however, something missing in my life.

I had 4 children and a business that gave me little free time.

Many who grow up, or spend formative years, around Westernport are drawn back. We were. We moved to Flinders in 2003. I yearned to rekindle my love of horses. My yearnings proliferated and we needed to move to Red Hill to accommodate more, and then more horses. Our property backed on to the Merricks Riding Trail. We loved to ride our horses and walk our beloved Labradors on the trail. We would regularly walk with our Labradors from Shoreham to Flinders. How wonderful that was. Westernport Bay has the marvellous talent of being different every day.

On the Queen’s Birthday weekend in 2008, my fractious mare misbehaved, reared and jammed me into a very large old pine tree. I spent two and a half hours lying face down in mud, semi-conscious and in great pain. I had broken numerous bones and shattered my pelvis. The ambulance officer later said they should have called in a helicopter; hindsight of course. I was in hospital for weeks and then rehab to learn to walk again. As soon as I was out of a wheelchair, I was back in the bay at Merricks Beach swimming.

Swimming in the bay was my therapy.

In early 2009, April in fact, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was still using a walking stick. Very shortly after it was The Freemasons for major and urgent surgery. Various tumours, one nearly the size of a house brick, were removed. As soon as I could, I was back in the Bay. It was my therapy, my comfort and my time to come to terms with a voracious and wicked enemy.

Over the next 4 years I endured 6 more torrid and invasive surgeries. I had numerous horrible courses of powerful chemotherapy. I lost numerous organs over this time. What kept me focused and on course was swimming at Merricks Beach. We would also walk every morning with our wonderful Labradors, sometimes more slowly than others.

Westernport Bay is precious and delicate. We have a responsibility to protect it. It is our duty to our First Nation peoples. Westernport has been their land for tens of thousands of generations. I have 4 children and 5 grandchildren, and we are obligated to protect it for them.

We have an earth given responsibility. Neither AGL, their partners, or anyone else has a right to assume control for their tainted profit driven purposes.

On Good Friday 2013 I at 12.50pm, I passed away peacefully at home in Myers Road. I spent my last weeks at home with a view of my horses, with family and our Labradors. Out my window I could see the beautiful Westernport and the Nobbies. I now rest in Flinders Cemetery, a stone’s throw from Westernport with both of my parents and my parents in law. Westernport is not far away, and it remains in my heart and soul.

We have an earth given responsibility, AGL has the same…….to stay away.