A coastal retreat in Second Life

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022 – click any image for full size

I first came across the work of Kaja Ashland and Marcus Bremser when, in 2014 I visited the AERO Golf Club and, whilst not a fan of golf in the physical world, found myself enjoying the game. This led to several returns over the next few years and prompted me to write about the club again in 2017, after it had undergone an extensive redesign.

Since then, both Kaja and Marcus have launched individual projects, and in 2020 and again in 2021, I visited and wrote about Kaja’s Noweeta Homestead region. As such, a write-up of Marcus’ latest project, Moruya, is long overdue.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

At the time of my visit, this roughly 12,000 sq m parcel of land sitting on the east coast of Sansara’s Islandia North, lay presented as Moruya Sanctum, which Marcus describes as a tropical beach fronting high cliffs, the landscape transitioning to something more temperate in nature as visitors climb up to its high table top.

I’ve no idea if Marcus has drawn on the name Moruya from Australia’s New South Wales and the Moruya River (the name drawn from an Aboriginal word, mherroyah, said to mean “home of the black swan”). Given his Profile states he spends “extended periods abroad”, it’s tempting to think so even if his Profile also states his current time zone is only 12 hours ahead of SLT, rather than the 19 one might expect for far New South Wales. Not that there is any similarity between Moruya Sanctum and the Aussie river of which I’m aware (other than having its own stream flowing eastwards to reach the sea, doing so via a high waterfall rather than a broad estuary); it’s just an idle direction my little imagination wandered off towards during my visits.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

The landing point for Moruya Sanctum is presented as a little dinghy tied up to a small, T-shaped wooden dock reaching out a short distance from the beach. Bracketed to the north and south by shoulders of rock extending from the main cliffs, the beach is split by the aforementioned falls and the water which flows out from them in a short, shallow channel. The south part of the beach, on the far side of the water from the dock, offers a little place to enjoy the Sun, complete with palm tress for a degree of shade.

The path up to the highlands switchbacks up the cliff above the north side of the beach as a mix of sloping rock, steps and ladders. Getting up this path takes a little care (I noted several people have some issues, mainly because they were trying to take shortcuts up very tall rocks – just follow the obvious steps and take care at the narrow pass at the top of the ladders, and you’ll be fine.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

A stone arch greets visitors at the top of the climb, a final climb of steps running up to the main path between the head of the waterfalls and a stone-built gazebo. The arch and a stone wall bridging the waters of the stream offer the first suggestion that these highlands may have once been home to a structure constructed of cut stone blocks, some of the stone from which may have been used to create the tile-roofed gazebo.

The gravel path immediately offers a choice of routes. To one side, it curves neatly around the gazebo to reach a grassy little faerie round for sitting in the shade of trees, nicely secluded from the rest of the plateau. The second route takes you across a wooden bridge over the stream to a further fork in the path, both of which again hint to a structure of great age having once stood here, thanks to the presence of moss-covered stone steps along both arms of the path.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

To the left, curved steps rise to a small grassy meadow cut through by the continuing arc of the footpath as it passes between mature pine trees to reach further steps leading up to more extensive ruins overlooking the upper reaches of the stream and the waterfalls feeding it from the cliffs at the western end of the setting. Meanwhile, the second arm of the path reaches back over the water via a great slab of rock to where steps lead up to another secluded seating area set out in the grass and facing the ruins from across the channel of the steam.

But these aren’t the only routes across this upper reach of land; at the base of the curved steps pointing the way to the ruins is a ribbon of grass in seed. Take this and you’ll find yourself with a choice of natural trails reaching to pools of water isolated from the stream and offering their own outlooks and places to sit. Travel onwards along the upper of these trails as it runs through the grass and under the shade of more mature trees, and you’ll find a nicely hidden camp site, complete with its own back route up to the ruins above the stream.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

Secluded seating and sitting spots aren’t the only secrets awaiting discovery here, however. Tucked away within Moruya Sanctum is a gently winding throat of a cave, its sandy tongue reaching deep under the high cliffs to lap at an emerald pool of water.

You’ll have to find the entrance for yourself – part of the fun of exploring Second Life is finding such hidden spaces, so I’m not going to give everything away here (not that the cave entrance is that hard to find). Suffice it to say, find your way into the cave and you’ll find bats, places to sit, cats, and the opportunity to bathe in the waters of the pool. All of this is overlooked by two figures, one carved in stone, the other cast in bronze, and one of which, together with the banners hanging from the rock walls, offers a hint of Arthurian legend.

Moruya Sanctum, December 2022

Cosy yet with a rich sense of space, easy on the eye (and the viewer), with plenty of opportunities to relax and / or take photographs, Moruya Sanctum makes for a highly engaging and picturesque visit.

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