Located on the south western edge of the Mornington Peninsula, Flinders marks the point where Western Port Bay meets Bass Strait.
The town gets its name from the famous explorer Matthew Flinders, who visited the place briefly in 1802. Small and tranquil, Flinders is ideal for retirees and those looking to escape the city rush.
The Flinders Golf Club is one of the most picturesque in the state, located on a clifftop overlooking the Bass Strait. The town also has a small yacht club and a long pier, where locals partake in fishing and sailing.
At the Flinders Hotel, visitors salivate over the many delectable culinary delights on offer. Others like to spend the day browsing the antique stores on Cook Street or looking through the Flinders Fine Art Gallery.
There are two options for swimming: Western Port Bay, with its calm waters and family-friendly conditions, or the southern side of West Head, the ocean breaks over the basalt rocks of Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary at Flinders ocean beach.
Mushroom Reef hosts one of Victoria's best intertidal and subtidal rock platform reefs, popular for beachcombing, recreational diving, snorkelling and surfing.
Those who enjoy walking will find that the 100km Mornington Peninsula Walk sets off in the area, while the shorter Two Bays and Coastal walking tracks weave through native bushland and sleepy inlets.
The town was named by George Bass after his friend, the explorer and British naval officer Matthew Flinders. Settlement commenced in 1854 and many pioneers and settlers are buried at the Flinders cemetery.
Flinders Post Office opened on 7 March 1863 as the population grew.
Flinders was the original home of Flinders Bread, available throughout Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.
The company's operations are now based in Dandenong, but the bread is still available locally.
The Royal Australian Navy operate a weapons training facility and gunnery on West Head, with public access to this area being restricted.
Time for a sea change and want to keep your café lifestyle? well Mornington has enough to keep you occupied and many way to meet a wonderful community with its urban bayside charm.
Only under an hour from the city, Mornington is a large, effervescent seaside community, brimming with that feel-good healthy vibe that comes from amazing sea views, award-winning restaurants and a gentle, family-friendly way of life. Our agents believe Mornington’s got all the amenities you need without having to go shoulder-to-shoulder with the peak hour crowds. With its gentle pace and room to move, Mornington is perfect for families with kids edging towards independence. The leisurely lifestyle also makes it an attractive place for older people who don’t need to race off to work anymore.
A bright sea breeze sets the tone of the Mornington lifestyle, making it an incredibly popular destination for summer tourists, but day to day, the locals love it as they walk their dogs on the beach, peruse the Main Street market every Wednesday, relax over wine and antipasto at DOC restaurant or scurry into the industrial backstreet for filter coffee at Commonfolk Café.
Schools are plentiful in the area, and the area is well serviced by buses and excellent council facilities for older residents. There’s a cosy cinema, good local theatre and outdoor concerts held at local wineries and the Mornington Racecourse.
Mornington’s quaint heritage can still be found in some of the streets behind Main Street, the major thoroughfare through Mornington, and impressive double-story homes sit pretty along the Esplanade with the sea view of life.
Roomier, more modern homes and some very contemporary new units and estates are increasingly more common, along with smart new apartments for that city-by-the-bay lifestyle.
Mornington has a relaxed lifestyle, a sense of community and charm to burn. It’s perfect for families, well equipped for older locals, and a treasure trove for cafe lovers. With a good bus network, plenty of schools and a sea view that just won’t quit, this town is a hard act to follow.
The Post Office opened on 21 May 1856 as Schnapper Point and was renamed Mornington in 1864.An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale struck the town on 2 September 1932 associated with the nearby Selwyn fault. No injuries or major damage was reported.
A beautiful suburb on the Mornington Peninsula, Dromana is located just minutes past Mount Martha.
Its beaches are a lot calmer than the back beaches because they face Port Phillip Bay, and as a result they are inundated with families in the summer months.
Along the coastal boulevard of Point Nepean Road you will find Dromana's main commercial centre, with Arthurs Seat and its surrounding bushland providing a scenic backdrop to the shops and cafes along this route.
Along this strip there are lively cafes and restaurants that are interspersed with shops and a supermarket and there is also the historic Dromana Hotel, which is regularly crowded with both locals and visitors. Dromana's foreshore reserve lines the coast and consists of grassy picnic areas, shelters, walking tracks and designated camping areas.
The calm, sandy beaches provide safe swimming and boating opportunities for the whole family. Points of interest along the coast include the Dromana Pier and the rocky cutting at Anthonys Nose where a boat ramp is situated.
Retirees and holidaymakers are particularly drawn to the scenery and solitude of the area, and like many surrounding coastal towns, Dromana's housing prices are on the way up.
Heronswood is a historic property situated on an elevated 2 hectare allotment on Latrobe Parade, overlooking the bay. The house and surrounding gardens date back to 1871 and are open for visitors to explore and enjoy. The property includes a cafe which serves organic produce from the gardens and fresh food from local growers where possible.
Dromana also has an increasing reputation for producing good wines, and many of its wineries operate cellar door tastings. More than 22 separate vintners operate within Dromana, as well as several vineyards. The Dromana Drive-in cinema is a popular entertainment spot for locals and holidaymakers alike which still shows new release movies today. For families, Dromana Primary School and Dromana Secondary College cater to students in the greater Peninsula region.
It is believed that the name Dromana is of Irish origin and that it came about from the influx of gold prospectors in the late 1830s. There is a Dromana on the tidal section of the Blackwater River, near Cappoquin, County Waterford in Ireland, and this is the most likely origin of the name. The first subdivision of Crown lands in Dromana occurred in 1854. Dromana Post Office opened on 12 April 1858. The completion of its pier took place in 1872, allowing the shipping of produce to the city markets. In 1881, Dromana was well established as a seaside resort.
A travel brochure of the time describes it as follows: "Sheltered from the untempered violence of the elements by the lofty ranges by which it is encircled, Dromana presents an air of homely comfort, singularly foreign to the majority of watering places." Dromana was proclaimed a town in February 1861.
A major contributor to the development of Dromana was Spencer Jackson. One of his greatest achievements was the facilitation of the construction of a road to the summit of Arthurs Seat in 1929. Dromana's pier was much longer in those days and Dromana shared with Sorrento the ability to accommodate the bay steamers which did much to promote Dromana as a tourist destination.
One of the oldest buildings that remains is the Dromana Hotel but it was a much more beautiful building before Lou Carrigg remodeled it in 1927. There was a racecourse behind the hotel for years, as well as one near the site of the Dromana Secondary College. The Arthurs Seat Hotel, which stood between Permien and Foote St was destroyed by a fire that swept down the mountainside in 1898.
Much of the early work in the area involved cutting, sawing and dressing timber from Arthurs Seat for the construction of piers around the bay and at Flinders. Farmers were involved with this livelihood and were carting the wood on Bullock drays to Captain Peter Pidoto's Little Angelina to Sheepwash Creek.
Mount Eliza is the perfect entry to the Mornington Peninsula, with a gorgeous green landscape hiding a picturesque village and an equally gorgeous sea view.
Driving along the bush-lined Nepean Hwy, you’ll see the sign to Mount Eliza. Hidden by lush greenery, you delve in to find a bustling village unveil itself, with excellent shopping, French restaurants and laid back cafes. Delve a little further and prestigious homes and sparkling sea views become apparent.
With its excellent schools, Mount Eliza is primarily home to many families who have kids hitting the books, while the relaxed pace and bay views are a major drawcard for older couples looking for an easier way of life.
Situated at the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula, Mount Eliza Way has luxury bayside charm in spades. Mount Eliza Way, the main shopping area, is a breezy enclave of good supermarkets, pretty gift stores and excellent restaurants like Bistro Maison or the hidden Japanese gem called Oyama 24. You can walk by the beach or through the bush, or stop in at Eden Gardens for afternoon tea amongst the nursery plants.
There’s no shortage of education institutions here, from the famous Toorak College girls school to the Mt Eliza Business School. Public transport is mainly buses, with Frankston being the closest train station.
Mount Eliza is dense and leafy, segueing down towards the bay, where you’ll find magnificent, modern, state-of-the-art homes with equally impressive views. Within Mount Eliza, there are a large number of luxury homes with in-ground pools as well as some older homes with established garden surrounds. While you won’t find many apartments, there are a number of new, modern units catering to couples looking to downsize.
‘Whether you want trees or seas, a modern luxury pad or a neat new unit, you’ll find something to suit in Mount Eliza”. It’s less than an hour from the city but a whole world away. With a relaxing shopping village and multiple schools serviced by buses, this is the perfect spot for families and leisure-loving couples.
Mount Eliza was named in 1836 by Captain William Hobson after Elizabeth Callaghan, the wife of John Batman. Prior to large scale subdivision, Mount Eliza was mainly a location for holiday homes, Mount Eliza Post Office opening on 15 November 1920. This began to change in the early half of the 20th century when many old estates were subdivided. One such subdivision was Ranelagh Estate, designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin in 1924 in tandem with the surveyors Tuxen and Miller.
Daveys Bay was named after James Davey who constructed a jetty in the 1840s to ship his produce to Melbourne. In 1909 the Daveys Bay Yacht Club was established, and winds its way to a walking track overlooking Mt Eliza Beach on the shores of Canadian Bay, which was named after three Canadians who owned a sawmill in the area in the 1950s.
In 1928, the exclusive girls school Toorak College was built and is one of the oldest independent girls schools in Victoria. By the 1950s the shopping precinct began to develop and by the 1960s was a well established shopping village. Hollywood glamour came to Mt Eliza in 1959 when movie stars Fred Astaire, Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner arrived to shoot the Stanley Kramer film, On The Beach, based on the novel of the same name by British novelist Nevil Shute who had lived at nearby Langwarrin.
Adjacent to Sunnyside beach sits a historical property Morning Star Estate. Morning Star Estate is a distinctive example of a Victorian era mansion built as a rural or holiday retreat on the Mornington Peninsula, it incorporates a variety of picturesque styles including Tudor and Gothic revival. Sunnyside estate (now Morning Star Estate) was originally purchased by Londoner Francis Alfred Gillett in 1865 a short time after he arrived in the colony in 1853. Gillett designed the Sunnyside mansion sometime around 1867-1870. In 1932 the property was purchased, with funds from a bequest, by the Catholic Church and became known as Morning Star Boys' Home. The boys’ home was developed into a countrytraining centre for delinquent boys, giving them exposure to the benefits of rural life. The boys later became involved in an extensive building program, which lead to further developments of the property. Despite this, the mansion remained the dominant architectural feature of the property.
Renovations and extensions were undertaken by the Franciscans in 1944-1946. Some effort to follow the lead of the mansion was made in the external Tudor/Gothic detailing of the large chapel. A number of courtyards were formed by the new buildings, including a large courtyard which was used for sports and was later enclosed. The remains of a football field lie to the south of the building complex, and a tall angular concrete pillar near the Nepean Highway originally carried a statue of the Virgin Mary sculpted by one of the brothers. Morning Star Estate has been in a number of films due to its picturesque location and historical buildings, including a three-month location shoot around the mansion for the movie Partisan, starring French actor Vincent Cassell occurred in 2014 and in 2013. The mansion was the location for the Kath & Kim movie spin-off Kath & Kimderella. Morning Star estate is also home to possibly the largest rose garden in Victoria, The extensive gardens surrounding the main mansion are now home to more than 700 varieties of ornamental roses.
Red Hill is very much a rural area, with the landscape consisting of scenic hills and native bushland.
Scattered throughout the area is a proliferation of vineyards, orchards and berry farms. Many of the vineyards are boutique wineries, offering visitors the opportunity to experience fine dining, wine tasting and the purchase of local produce of the region.
Most of the wineries also feature attractive gardens, free for visitors to wander through or have a picnic within.
One of the most scenic wineries is the Red Hill Estate, perched on the side of a hill, with the vines giving way to a stunning backdrop of the waters of Western Port.
The commercial centre of Red Hill is spread along four distinct spots on Arthurs Seat Road, Flinders Road and Shoreham Road, featuring a variety of eateries and services. Tucked away along roads and shady laneways around Red Hill, visitors will also find several galleries and cafes.
Red Hill is a major centre on the Mornington Peninsula for entertainment events, including the popular Red Hill Show, a monthly community market held from September through to May and the peninsula's premier art show - Art Red Hill.
Its name derives from the rich, red clay that has made the area predominantly agricultural from its first European settlement in the mid-nineteenth century.
The area now known as Red Hill contains land in three parishes: Kangerong, Wannaeue (only 626 acres) and Balnarring. Kangerong is north of Arthurs Seat Rd and west of Red Hill Rd.
Wannaeue is west of Mornington-Flinders Rd. The rest of Red Hill and Red hill South are in Balnarring parish.
Since the 1970s, wineries have been established around Red Hill to take advantage of the microclimates that suits cool climate grapes, and especially pinot noir
The beach-front community of Safety Beach is nestled between Mount Martha and Dromana on Melbourne's beautiful Mornington Peninsula.
Safety Beach takes its name from the calm and shallow waters of Dromana Bay, which makes it an ideal spot for children. There is a small jetty on the coast, while the coastal road of Marina Drive separates housing and commercial areas from the foreshore and the beach. Safety Beach is a particularly scenic spot, with views to the peak of Mount Martha in the north and to Arthurs Seat in the south.
Safety Beach Sailing Club Formed in 1967. Safety Beach Sailing Club has hosted many State and National titles and SBSC sailors are recognized by the sailing community for their excellence in sailing with success at regattas and at State, National and International level.
Currently under construction in Safety Beach is the Martha Cove Development. Up-market residential properties, commercial outlets and a 600 berth marina are being built around the large network of man-made inland channels. One of the striking features of the marina development is the tunnelling of the coastal road of Marine Parade under the canal linking the marina with Port Phillip, in order to allow yachts and water craft of any height to enter the development.
The Safety Beach Country Club is a resort-style golf course that surrounds a residential estate in the east. Landscaped to a tropical theme, the 18 hole course features a restaurant, tennis courts, palm trees and several lakes.
Safety Beach was originally named 'Shark Bay', but underwent a name change to attract tourist trade to the peninsula. In 1841, Hugh Jamieson purchased 5,120 acres, of land from the Crown for $1 an acre under the terms of the short-lived Special Survey regulations. The purchase included all of the present suburb of Safety Beach. The area is known as Jamieson's Special Survey in cadastral surveys. The survey extended east as far as Bulldog Creek Rd.
Henry Dunn had leased the Survey from 1846 until 1851 and was succeeded by tenants such as the Griffith, Eaton, Peatey, McLear, Clydesdale, Wilson, Cottier and Gibson families, which were involved with the History of Dromana. Edward Louis Tassell leased the northern 1,000 acres for some time near the creek that is named after him.
Big Clarke later owned the survey, and sold the northern 1000 or so acres to John Vans Agnew Bruce. Maria Stenniken, who married Godfrey Burdett Wilson, used to work at Bruce's house as a servant during the summer. At the eastern end of the Survey, many of the pioneers worked at goldmining for Bernard Eaton.
Rosebud is wedged between the lower slopes of Arthurs Seat, the shores of Port Phillip and the plains of Boneo.
Rosebud is a highly popular spot during the summer months, and vacationers flock to its clear waters and pristine sandy beaches.
There are also a number of weekend markets including craft and vintage markets, and these are popular with tourists and locals alike.
They are largely craft and vintage focused, but many farmers sell their fresh produce as well.
For those who want to be more proactive with their food foraging, the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm allows visitors to pick their own selection of fruit right off the farm.
Or visit one of the many farm gates for fresh produce directly from the farmer. The foreshore area of Rosebud is one of the largest camping areas on the peninsula. During the summer months the populations of Rosebud and Dromana can double is size - making a very touristy feel.
Rosebud has its own primary and secondary schools including Padua College, a Catholic secondary school, with the Rosebud campus accommodating years 7-10, while years 11 and 12 students attend the Mornington Campus.
Originally known as Banksia Point, Rosebud began life as a fishing community in the early 1850s. On 2 June 1855, the cargo vessel Rosebud, owned by one of the colony's best known pastoralists Edward Hobson, was washed over the large sandbars and onto the beach. The burgeoning community made off with the cargo of damask and household goods, but the wreck remained for many years as the locals slowly stripped its hull to use in the construction of houses. It became commonplace to call the area "The Rosebud" in reference to the ship, which was shortened to "Rosebud" as the last vestiges of the ship disappeared.
A school began operating in 1884 and moved into purpose-built premises three years later. The first store wasn't opened until Welshman Jackie Jones began selling goods from an upturned boat in the late 1880s. Rosebud suffered from a lack of direct access to Melbourne. When a pier was finally built in 1888, it failed to extend into the deep water, so ferries and passenger ships from the metropolis had to dock at Dromana. A road was formed by clearing a path at Anthony's Nose, the point where Arthurs Seat meets the sea. This, at last, gave Rosebud a road connection to surrounding towns and Melbourne. The Post Office then opened on 27 March 1889.
In the early twentieth century, developers attempted to market Rosebud as an English-style seaside resort with the creation of the Clacton-on-Sea estate (today known as the "Avenues"). Vacant land was offered at just two pounds per block in an effort to stimulate investment in the area. Take up was slow; society wasn't affluent enough to allow many of the middle class to own holiday homes so far from the city. This slow growth continued in the inter-war years; the township consisted of about ten shops and a Presbyterian church, built of wood on a single day in 1923. The first pub (the Rosebud Hotel) wasn't built until 1939-40 and was built in the prevailing art deco style. It remains the only pub in the town to this day.
Local businessmen had noticed a slowly growing phenomenon in the late 1930s and 1940s - the popularity of camping on the Rosebud foreshore; a cheap and interesting alternative to staying at guesthouses or hotels. After World War II, aided by the explosion in the number of people owning a car, camping at Rosebud over the Christmas-New Year holidays became a tradition for many Melbourne families.
The Rosebud Foreshore Committee was set up to administer the area and take bookings, which are now made twelve months in advance. By the 21st century, camping on the foreshore has taken on a cultural dimension and there are families who are fourth and even fifth generation visitors. Many Melburnians can reminisce about summer holidays at Rosebud.
By the 1960s, Rosebud had emerged as the largest town on the southern Peninsula, complete with a shopping centre and extensive sporting facilities. In time it became home to an increasing number of permanent residents, including 'sea change' retirees. New housing estates have developed in the last five years, including the Peninsula Sands Estate in Rosebud South, which is home to many young families.
McCrae is located on the Mornington Peninsula, between Rosebud and Arthur's Seat and the area is largely dominated by holiday homes.
Residents enjoy a quiet lifestyle during off-peak periods with beautiful beaches and coastal walking tracks. The Mornington Peninsula Freeway runs through the heart of town, offering travellers an easy route to Melbourne and other coastal towns scattered along the Peninsula.
McCrae is known for the McCrae Lighthouse. No longer an operating lighthouse, it marked the turning point for shipping in the main navigational channels between Port Phillip and Melbourne. The iconic Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Victoria and this historic structure overlooks sandy McCrae Beach, where beachgoers enjoy perfect conditions come summer.
Across Point Nepean Road, McCrae Pavilion features a sophisticated restaurant and alfresco dining. The patio is particularly popular for its relaxing daybeds, where patrons can watch the waves gently rolling along the foreshore.
Schools such as Rosebud Primary School and childcare centres such as Waterfall Gully Pre-School Centre are within walking distance in Rosebud. Supermarkets, cafes and a small collection of retail stores are located in McCrae Plaza. It regularly acts as the host of the Victorian Catamaran Championship.
The area was named after the McCrae family who were the first Europeans to settle the area. The homestead that they built, McCrae Homestead is a National Trust Property that is open to the public.
Sailing is an incredibly popular pastime for residents of all ages, and many hold memberships with the McCrae Yacht Club. In March 2011, McCrae Yacht Club hosted the Victorian Championship regattas for the A-Class Catamarans
It is a favoured holiday destination during the summer. People flock to the area for its beaches, where they enjoy swimming, kite flying, surfing and fishing. They also enjoy some stunning natural scenery along the coastline.
The Rye Jetty is located at the main beach on Port Phillip Bay and has a fantastic playground for children. From here, residents and holidaymakers enjoy fishing and boating. For a month after Christmas, a spectacular summer carnival dominates the foreshore. Point Nepean Road features most of the town's main restaurants and retail shops. The Rye Hotel features alfresco dining overlooking the beach, a beer garden and a play area for the kids.
For families, there is one school, Rye Primary School, though secondary colleges and other primary schools can be found in neighbouring towns such as Rosebud and Sorrento.
Rye was proclaimed a town on 26 February 1861. Lime could be quarried throughout the area west of Boneo Road. Many golf courses and the Peninsula Hot Springs are on the sites of Limeburners' properties between Browns and Limestone Roads. An excellent reproduction of a lime kiln can be seen on the foreshore just east of White Cliff. They were built into the side of a hill so that firewood and napped limestone could be loaded from above.
Demand for Rye lime slackened in 1879 because of the opening of the Lilydale quarry but the Sullivans continued production, later managed by Antonio Albress, and Blair's big kiln still operated on the Fire Station site. Ben Stenniken and James Sullivan became the leaders in a new industry, firewood. Ti tree had spread inland from the foreshore as the she-oaks had almost completely disappeared, having fired the kilns for decades. Cut into 2 foot 6 inch sections, the ti tree was shipped in former limecraft to heat bakers' ovens in Melbourne.
Coasting down the Mornington Peninsula is Mount Martha, a suburb with a mix of bushland boardwalks, beaches, cafes and coastal homes.
Mount Martha is a good-looking and varied little pocket of the Peninsula. Its small batch of shops has a warm, village feel, with cafes and gift stores, while the local landscape swings from houses on bush-lined streets inland down to birdfilled wetlands and colourful beach boxes by the sea.
Peninsula Estate Agents believe that Mount Martha’s cosy beachside location provides a lovely backdrop to this family-friendly area. You’ll find many loyal local families who have raised their kids in the area, as well as more mature couples enjoying a stress-free lifestyle filled with both beach walks and bush walks.
Mount Martha does get the summer tourists but its compact size means that it sees fewer than neighbouring towns, leaving it to get on with its laidback lifestyle of a refreshing swim in the morning or a bracing walk along the Balcombe Creek boardwalk. Mount Martha’s neat shopping pocket includes some lovely cafes like Via Battisti, as well as vintage stores in small arcades, a good supermarket and a quaint, old-school post office. Away from the water, you’ll find lush lunches at vineyards and places like The Briars. Being a family-friendly area means access to a number of schools, as well as a decent network of buses going in either direction. While the streets inland are home to neat units and ideal family homes with rambling gardens and green-lined streets uninterrupted by footpaths, Mount Martha also boasts an enviable share of some of the most exclusive houses on the Peninsula.
Mount Martha is a small, relaxed and family-friendly place to call home, full of natural beauty, both green and blue. In fact, nothing seems more natural than to settle into a cosy home on a tree-lined street or a luxury pad with a sparkling sea view. And with nearby towns perfect for a weekend drive, you’ll feel like you’re on permanent vacation.
Mount Martha has its roots dating back to the 1840s when the township's major role was that of farming. The Briars Homestead in the town's east was constructed from 1848 to 1851 and was used by Alexander Balcombe until 1876 as he farmed the land surrounding it and tended to 100 acres of vineyards. The homestead was named after the lodging of the same name in Saint Helena. Dame Mabel Brookes collected Napoleonic memorabilia which was also donated to the Mornington Peninsula shire; some is on display at the house.
In 1891, the Martha Hotel, designed by architects Tappin, Gilbert and Dennehy was constructed in a Federation Queen Anne style. Today, the building now known as Mt. Martha House serves as a community centre and is Victorian Heritage listed. As the population grew, Mount Martha Post Office opened around 1902.
During the Second World War, Mount Martha's Balcombe Creek camp hosted the United States Marine Corp's 1st Marine Division in late 1942 following their involvement in the Battle of Guadalcanal. After the conclusion of the war, it was progressively relocated or demolished until 1999. The area is now known as Balcombe Estuary and has barbecue facilities as well as a children's play area in the west, and residential allocations were made in the east. Also during the Second World War, Mount Martha House had extensive use by the military and functioned as a Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) barracks up until 1978.
Blairgowrie is located on a thin strip of the Mornington Peninsula, facing Port Phillip in the north and Bass Strait in the south.
A compact commercial centre is situated opposite the bay beach, featuring a supermarket, speciality shops and cafes.
Calm and safe sandy beaches front onto Port Phillip which are popular with swimmers and sunbakers. Also fronting Port Phillip is the extensive Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron boat harbour which is a hive of water craft activity. Spectacular walks and scenery can be enjoyed in the Mornington Peninsula National Park which runs along the rugged Bass Strait coastline. There are numerous walking tracks along cliff tops, through sand dunes and down to the beaches below. Koonya Ocean Beach, at the end of Hughes Road, is the most easily accessible, with a lookout at the car park providing views down to the rocky outcrop of Pelly Point and inland across Blairgowrie towards the bay beach. Other places of interest along this scenic coastline include Bridgewater Bay at the end of St Johns Wood Road, Pearses Beach and Dimmicks Beach.
Portsea is a popular holiday spot, located near the end of the Mornington Peninsula between the calm waters of Port Phillip and the wild surf of Bass Strait.
Shelley Beach and the Foreshore are spectacular places to swim with the family, particularly because they face the bay and their waters are calmer. Portsea Back Beach is a big attraction due to its great surfing conditions and long stretch of sand. Portsea Surf Life Saving Club patrols the popular surf beach, as patrols are always needed during the summer period given the large waves and strong tides that are often present. All of Portsea's beaches tend to be inundated with visitors during the summer months.
Portsea is considered by many to be the hub of Melbourne's recreational scuba diving activities. Dive boats travel to sites both inside Port Phillip and outside Port Phillip Heads, also known as The Rip and the Portsea Pier is the home to the spectacular weedy sea dragon, as well as many other fish species, including numerous pufferfish.
The Portsea Hotel, a highly popular restaurant and pub, marks the middle of town. Along Point Nepean Road specialty stores and cafes look out at the Portsea Pier, which is popular with fishermen and visitors soaking up the scenery.
The Point Nepean National Park lines the edge of the town, and it is filled with old army barracks established to prevent invasion back in the 1880s. Many walks through the area explore these historic remnants.
In the 1920s, Portsea was established as a home to Victoria's elite. Many of the original clifftop mansions remain there today. The suburb is still known as the most affluent postcode in Australia, outperforming other upper class Victorian suburbs, including Toorak and Hawthorn, and many of Melbourne's wealthiest residents are beginning to retire there. As recently as last year several properties in Portsea have broken the Victorian price record.
Portsea is named after Portsea Island which is an island incorporated by Portsmouth England. Portsmouth is where the first settlers to Australia set sail from.
Portsea Post Office opened on 10 February 1877 and closed in 1987.
The Officer Cadet School, Portsea (sometimes referred to as OCS Portsea) was an officer training establishment of the Australian Army located just outside the town.
Established in Portsea in 1951 to provide training to officer cadets prior to commissioning, for many years OCS provided the Australian Regular Army with the bulk of its junior officers.
However, following a review of military training establishments in Australia in the mid-1980s, the school was eventually closed in 1985, as the Royal Military College, Duntroon, assumed sole responsibility for training Army officers.
The historic reserve became famous when Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt disappeared while swimming inside the facility at Cheviot Beach on 17 December 1967 and was officially presumed dead two days later, although a formal inquest into his death did not take place until 2005.
Sorrento is a largely upper-class, seaside resort area, but is also a quiet seaside township in the off-peak months of the year. It was named by the Italian founders after the southern Italian Town.
While many of Melbourne's elite own homes in the town, Sorrento has a more laid-back atmosphere than its affluent neighbours.
Ocean Beach Road is the place to go for shopping and dining. The strip includes major brand ladies clothing stores, the Athenaeum Cinema and the ever-popular Shell's cafe. For some nightlife spots the Continental Hotel and the Sorrento Hotel are always popular. The Portsea Pub is another option just up the road.
Sorrento can get quite busy during the summer season, when tourists and visitors from Melbourne flock to the area to soak up the sun. Offering the best of both worlds, Sorrento has beaches facing the calm of Port Phillip Bay, and a back beach off Bass Strait for great surf. Those who prefer their entertainment indoors venture further inland to Mornington Peninsula's impressive wine region, where many cellar doors are open for tastings. Travel to the Bellarine Peninsula also couldn't be easier; the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry carries both passengers and vehicles across Port Phillip Bay.
In 1803, 30 years before the founding of Melbourne, Sullivan Bay in Sorrento became the site of Victoria's first mainland European settlement. Due to a lack of fresh water the settlement was short lived and subsequently moved to Hobart in Tasmania.
Victoria's first magistrate’s court, public hospital postal service and government printing office were established in Sorrento. The first Victorian wedding, christening and funeral services were held at Sullivan Bay and the first settlement site overlooking Sullivan Bay includes graves believed to be of first settlers.
Sorrento Post Office opened on 10 January 1871. A horse and steam powered tram which ran between the foreshore and the back beach opened in 1890 and closed in 1920.
The town has a number of grand historic homes and hotels which date back to the 1860s, almost all of which have been constructed with local limestone.
Mechanics' Institute, Sorrento was built in 1877 using local limestone and the building, which is now classified by the National Trust of Australia, houses the Nepean Historical Society's museum. Other notable limestone buildings still standing include: Sorrento Hotel (1872), Anglican Church (1875 nave, 1889 transept), Athenaeum Theatre (1894), Continental Hotel (1875), and Whitehall Guest House (1904).
The Sorrento Park, established in 1870, contains a variety of trees, including an Aleppo Pine grown from the seed of the Lone Pine of Gallipoli.