Defining the meaning of a specific place is difficult. Blairgowrie is a peaceful and naturally protected beach haven on the Nepean Peninsula on the tip of the Mornington Peninsula, in Victoria, Australia. When a major development is perceived as threatening the quality of place, it is perhaps already too late to begin to name its characteristics or particular attributes. The evocative and poetic qualities of Blairgowrie do not reveal themselves immediately. Only over a period of time, and by visiting at various times of the day in all seasons, can one begin to fathom its moods, its soul, its many colours; and to touch its memories. Here sea and sky can meet, or divide, totally unobstructed, depending on climatic conditions, seasonal weather patterns and diurnal changes. It is still possible to get a sense of scale and wide-angle limitless vision. When a Safe Boat Harbour was proposed for Blairgowrie, residents came out in force to voice their objections or their support. A tribunal hearing was put in place. In light of the dismissal of qualitative data, of reflective experiential material, of community opinion, of values of the 'other' in planning tribunal hearings, this paper attempts to build a case for putting into words 'the meaning of place'. The Safe Boat Harbour proposal was the catalyst for this exploration of 'meaning of place', and is not itself primarily the subject of this paper. This very personal paper begins to examine the meaning of this place. Through images, perceptions, and representations; through time; history, topography; flora and fauna: it attempts to find a way of coming to terms with this extraordinary land/seascape. In the long term this project aims to produce relevant, authoritative, and defensible research that provides the context and rationale for the selection and assessment of places of outstanding heritage significance. Further, it will provide a case study in support of new planning regulations for 'place' zones (Mant, 2001) rather than the generic land use zones, which are current in Victoria.
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