Places in the heart: Jean Kittson

Sunbakers by the sea ... a teenage Jean Kittson (L) with friends Sue and Jill at Sorrento.
Sunbakers by the sea ... a teenage Jean Kittson (L) with friends Sue and Jill at Sorrento. Photo: Jean Kitson

Comedian Jean Kittson's family went to Sorrento for a holiday and stayed. Here's why a ''spit of land'' on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula is a magnet for generations of the Kittson clan.

THE FIRST TIME my family went to Sorrento, I was 10. My dad had a cousin who lent us his holiday house. It was a simple little cottage on a windy, sandy road with beautiful, twisted tea trees everywhere.

The great thing about Sorrento is the freedom. It's on a spit of land with a bay on one side and pounding, magnificent surf on the back beaches. My younger brothers and sister and I would spend all day exploring the foreshore bushland, sand hills and cliffs. Children always say, "Why do we have to go home, why can't we just live here?" Well, my parents decided we would.

They sold our house in Victoria's Lilydale, Dad got a job at the local service station, we started at the local schools and just never went home. It was the most wonderful place to grow up because all the things that happen on holidays happened for us year round – paddling on old, long fibreglass surfboards, fishing on the piers, getting rescued from Portsea back beach. I lived there until I was 18.

Later on, my husband and I bought a holiday house in Sorrento next to Mum and Dad's and we'd take our children there every holiday. But my parents ended up selling, and so did we.

I took my 12-year-old daughter to Sorrento two years ago and she couldn't believe how beautiful it was. We walked through the sand hills, I showed her rock pools full of seaweed and fish and shells, and the labyrinth of rocky outcrops near Diamond Bay that seem like gargoyles or something from the Anatolia area of Turkey. If ever I had to live somewhere else, I'd go straight back to Sorrento.

This series of articles produced with support from Tourism Australia.

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