Gunammatta surf beach looking east towards Cape Schank lighthouse
Mornington Peninsula is the peninsula south east of Melbourne (south of Frankston in reality) and forms the eastern coastline of Port Phillip Bay and the western coastline of Westernport Bay which includes remote French Island and popular tourist region of Phillip Island with its fairy penguins.
the Peninsula is mainly popular for:
safe bayside family beaches and fishing
surf beaches on its southern aspect facing Bass Strait
Portsea, Sorrento and Rye back beaches
Portsea back beach is notable for Australia's PM Harold Holt who went swimming there in Dec 1967 and was never seen again, presumed drowned.
Gunnamatta surf beach - horse trail rides
golf courses built on the sand belt coastal soils
15 clubs with 19 courses within 20 minute drive from Rosebud
its many wineries centered around Red Hill region
coastal and hinterland bushwalks
historic Point Nepean military fort
pretentious cafe scene in Summer in Sorrento
hot mineral springs near Rye - Peninsula Hot Springs
The Briars historic park - Mt Martha, restaurant, wetlands, woodlands, and vineyard
Tyabb Packing House antiques - open 10am-5pm Thurs-Sun + public holidays
Boneo Maze and wetlands - hedge mazes, garden chess, lawn games, 2km boardwalks amongst 15 acres of wetlands; Fingal.
Ashcombe Maze - hedge mazes, gardens, cafe; Shoreham
Arthurs Seat lookout, trail rides and State Park
Arthurs Seat Auto Museum
Cape Schanck lighthouse
be warned though, many of the galleries, shops, wineries and restaurants are seasonal and are often closed Mon-Wed especially in Winter.
note, not all attractions are listed here as they are far too numerable
Melbourne to Frankston;
Frankston to Stony Point;
passenger ferries to French Island and Phillip Island from Stony Point which can be reached by car or train from Frankston.
2 to 5 trips per day, check timetables.
Stony Point to French Island takes 15min then a further 15min to Phillip Island
eg. usually 8am and 5pm, sometimes midday from Phillip Island
adults $20 return, bicycles $8 return (2008)
new major roads:
Mornington Peninsula Freeway
Eastlink toll road opened July 2008 connecting Eastern, South-Eastern and Mornington Peninsula freeways
see also www.peninsulawine.com.au
Woodman Estate - lakeside dining, open Thurs-Sun for lunch & dinner, plus spa retreat open daily 10am-6pm
Stillwater at Crittenden - lakeside dining Fri & Sat evenings. Cellar door open 7 days.
Willow Creek Vineyard and Salix Restaurant - cellar door open 10-5 everyday, restaurant open lunch everyday + dinner Fri/Sat.
Morning Star Estate - restaurant open daily for lunch, and dinner Fri/Sat.
Montalto - open every day
Other notable restaurants:
Portsea Hotel - open fires in Winter; views across the bay; accommodation;
La Petanque - southern French cuisine; 1208 Mornington Flinders Rd, Main Ridge ph: 5931 0155
The Rocks - seafood restaurant, Mornington
McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park - 16 hectare park in Langwarrin
Mornington Peninsula Regional Art Gallery - a major regional gallery supported by Arts Victoria.
Jenny Pihan Fine Art - Frankston & Sorrento
Hugh Gallery Flinders
Gordon Studio Glassblowers Red Hill
A little history:
James Sandle Ford, a pardoned convict, settles and names Portsea after his home town in England in 1840.
John Farnsworth built some notable Sorrento & Portsea houses, the Sorrento Hotel and the Nepean Hotel, Portsea. He married James Ford's daughter Anna. Their son, John Nepean Farnsworth farmed the area between Campbell's Rd & Portsea Golf Course, and operated an extensive transport business. John James Farnsworth (1902-1984) established a bus service linking Sorrento and Portsea via Mt Levy and in 1953, initiated the Sorrento-Portsea-Queenscliff ferry service on which he actively worked until 1979.
McCrae Homestead of Scottish migrants built 1844
Briars Park with its 1840's homestead featuring a famous collection of Napoleonic memorabilia & imposing Mulberry Hill, later became home to artist Sir Daryl Lindsay and his wife Joan Lindsay who wrote "Picnic at Hanging Rock".
one of the earliest farms in the area, it was 1st settled in 1846 by Alexander Balcombe who was born on St Helena in 1811. His father, William Balcombe (born 1777 in Rottingdean, England), was a Naval Captain then an officer with the East India Company. in 1805, he settled in St Helena, which was part of his trade route, living in an homestead called "The Briars". In October 1815, Emperor Napoleon was exiled to St Helena by the British and, horrified at the poor condition of his allocated house, took up the Balcombe's offer to stay with them for almost two months while the house was renovated. Napoleon became friends of the family, including 14 year old daughter Betsy and in return gave the family some momentos of him which were brought to Australia.
William was appointed 1st Colonial Treasurer of NSW in compensation by Gov. Lowe's suspicions of him aiding and abetting Napoleon. William and his family arrived in Sydney in 1824 and was given land grants near Goulburn, NSW and purchased 4000 acres near present day Queanbeyan. William died in 1829 and his eldest son, William jnr was given a 1,250 acre land grant near his father's purchased land by Gov. Darling as compensation. He called this farm "The Briars" as well before selling it to a neighbour in 1842. Alexander went to Port Phillip in 1839 and in 1846 took over the "Tichingorouk" run in Mornington that Capt Reid had established in 1840, renaming it "The Briars".
Alexander's grand-daughter, Dame Mabel Brookes, spent her life expanding the Napoleonic memorabilia which she bequeathed to the National Gallery of Vic. and even purchased the St Helena property to gift to the French govt in the 1950's.
in 1976, descendants of Alexander, the A'beckett family gifted some of the property to National Trust and the Shire and sold the rest to the Shire.
Jack's Beach - still has remnants of original bark tanning stones established by the Jack Brothers in the 1840's.
limeburners were the first permanent European settlers of Rye, arriving in the 1840's and establishing 14 lime kilns and eventually the pier was built in 1860 to transport the lime to Melbourne where it was used in the building industry as masonary mortar.
Portsea holiday mansions were built by the rich and famous from the 1860's but especially so from the 1920's with a renewed revival in the 1990's.
Portsea Quarantine Station established in 1852
Portsea Hotel was built in 1927
Point Nepean which guards the entrance to Port Phillip Bay was developed into a fort with a labyrinth of tunnels and fortifications built in the 1880's.
Cape Schank lighthouse built in 1859 & its buildings are an excellent example of the architecture of the day.
Merrick's General Store built in 1924
many hinterland vineyards are established or expand in the 1970's
development of protected areas:
The Briars near Mt Martha
Coppin's Track - initially nurtured by George Coppin in 1870, rotunda erected in 1870's, in 1890 onwards, a steam tram ran from Sorrento Pier to Sullivan's Kiosk (removed in 1920s).
Fingal Beach area was saved from property developers and purchased by govt in 1974-1977
Bushrangers Bay coastal region purchased by Vic Govt 1977
Greens Bush, 900 hectares originally purchased by the Green gamily in 1926 becomes part of Mornington Peninsula National Park after the State Govt purchased 500 hectares in 1975 and after public appeals, the rest in 1986.
the 26km Two Bays Walking Track was first proposed in 1984
1.5km Farnsworth Track at Portsea Back Beach completed in 1987
Cape Schanck region becomes part of Mornington Peninsula National Park in 1988
Point Nepean National Park was opened to the public in 1988 for the 1st time in more than 100yrs and later saved from property developers
Point Nepean fortifications and tunnels
see also photos-Victoria for larger versions
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