Just up the road to the north of Mornington is the small village of Mount Eliza. The beach at Mount Eliza has the distinction of being chosen as a setting for the Gregory Peck and Ava Gardener movie The Beach in the 1950s The coastline around Mount Eliza consists of jagged cliffs featuring scenic walking tracks above stretches of secluded sandy beaches in small bays and coves below. Access to most of the beaches along the coast is via residential streets which offer small car parks at their end points. Those residential streets feature upmarket dream homes and weekend retreats, many of which have spectacular views along the coast. The village has an attractive retail centre with a supermarket specialty shops, cafes and restaurants.
The township of Mornington is located between the exclusive beachside suburbs of Mount Eliza and Mount Martha on the Port Phillip coast. It is a cosmopolitan seaside village that offers more than a kilometre of shopping with more than 370 retail outlets, including many excellent boutiques, homeware and designer stores, sidewalk cafes and restaurants. There always seems to be something happening in this town with its galleries, cafes and restaurants, popular racecourse, markets and food and wine events. The Main Street Wednesday market is Victoria’s longest running midweek regional market.
Mornington has a number of beaches, with many colourful bathing boxes. Sailing is popular and there’s a marina where you can dine overlooking the water or fish off the pier. On the eastern side of Schnapper Point is the sheltered Mothers Beach and Scout Beach, while Shire Hall Beach and Mills Beach are located further east along the coast; all perfect for swimming. Around a kilometre south of Schnapper Point is Fisherman’s Beach which ends at the scenic rocky outcrop of Linley Point where there are boat ramps and scenic viewing spots along the coast.
Just to the south of Mornington is the small village of Mount Martha; an ideal destination for those visitors seeking a scenic and less commercial holiday location where the surrounding bushland meets the coast. The small village offers good shopping with designer stores, boutiques, galleries and tempting little eateries. Safe swimming beaches with wide sandy stretches exist just north and south of the villages and are lined with rows of much photographed colourful bathing boxes.
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.
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.
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. Points of interest along the coast include the Dromana Pier and the rocky cutting at Anthonys Nose where a boat ramp is situated.
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. There is a retail shop and nursery, with garden workshops held regularly.
Dromana and neighbouring Tuerong to the north, are home to a number of vineyards, some with cellar doors open for wine tasting.
McCrae is a small village with a supermarket as well as cafes and restaurants. It 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 Heads and Melbourne. Safe swimming can be had at beaches along its continuous stretch of sandy bay coastline. The coastal strip is known as the foreshore and forms part of the 28km Bay Trail for walkers and cyclists that runs from Safety Beach to Portsea.
Arthurs Seat Road begins at the Mornington Peninsula Freeway overpass, quickly transforming itself into a scenic and windy mountain road as it ascends to the Arthurs Seat peak. Along the way are several spectacular lookouts where travellers can stop and admire the stunning scenery of the Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip and Bass Strait from different angles and elevations.
At the peak of Arthurs Seat are several scenic viewing areas, a lookout, BBQ and picnic facilities, and the Arthurs Hotel which overlooks a vineyard and provides breathtaking views from both its indoor and outdoor dining areas.
A gondola service, known as the Arthurs Seat Eagle, operates up and down the mountain, offering superb coastal and bush views.
The main township of Rosebud sits on the Port Phillip coast among the smaller towns of McCrae to the east, and Capel Sound and Tootgarook towards Rye and Sorrento in the west. Safe swimming can be had at beaches along its continuous stretch of sandy bay coastline.
The coastal strip is known as the foreshore and forms part of the 28km Bay Trail for walkers and cyclists that runs from Safety Beach to Portsea.
The coastal town of Rye is a popular holiday destination nestled between Tootgarook and Blairgowrie.
Rye’s main beach, fronting Port Phillip, offers safe sandy, family friendly beaches, ideal for swimming and boating. There is a jetty, several boat ramps, and attractive foreshore facilities with picnic areas, shelters, playgrounds and walking tracks including part of the 25 kilometre Bay Trail that extends from Sorrento to Dromana. If you enjoy snorkelling, you can hire gear locally and then head for the Octopus’s Garden at Rye Pier. This is 200 metre underwater trail with signage introducing you to the underwater wildlife. Rye’s summer carnival is located beside the pier carpark. The town is extremely popular during vacation periods, and has a varied selection of eating establishments.
Rye also has an impressive ocean beach, where you can experience an exhilarating horse ride. There are magnificent walks along the clifftops that form part of the 25 kilometre Coastal Walk. The multi award winning Peninsula Hot Springs is nearby, and is Victoria’s only geo-thermal hot springs.
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.
Sorrento and Portsea
The villages of Sorrento and Portsea are nestled west of Blairgowrie on the tip of the Mornington Peninsula and face the calm waters of Port Phillip in the north and the rough ocean of Bass Strait in the south.
Sorrento is a beautiful village which has retained much of its heritage in the form of the historic limestone buildings that line the main street. The village offers shopping that is stylish and sophisticated, with more than 60 retail outlets including boutiques, interior design stores, galleries and antique outlets. Naturally, the cafes, restaurants, local produce stores and designer ice-cream are superb. The crescent-shaped Sorrento front beach offers a white sand beach and shallow waters making it ideal for swimming and other water activities.
The Sorrento Pier is the departure point for the ferry to Queenscliff, as well as fishing trips, seal and dolphin watching excursions, sight-seeing cruises, yacht charters and diving trips. The Sorrento Ocean beach has a popular rock pool but also offers surfing – care must be taken when swimming as deep rips operate along this coastline.
There is a lot of history in the area and the Sorrento-Portsea Artists Trail covers a wide range of sites around the area and offers an insight into renowned Australian artists’ works showing views as they were painted in situ. Portsea has one of Australia’s most expensive postcodes with clifftop mansions that exude luxury and style on a very grand scale.
Flinders is one of the Mornington Peninsula’s most charming villages, with an historic streetscape shaded by broad verandahs, excellent eateries, gourmet produce stores, boutique shops, galleries, antique outlets, a famous golf course and coastal walks. This pretty seaside village was first settled in 1854, and is named after the explorer Captain Matthew Flinders.
Red Hill is a small rural community, located in the hinterland of the Mornington Peninsula, with the landscape consisting of scenic hills, rolling vistas of farmland and native bushland. This is serious food, wine and indulgence country.
Flourishing olive groves, orchards, vineyards, cafes, restaurants, gourmet produce stores, local markets, galleries and roadside signs for farm gates and pick-your-own produce gardens are found along many roads in the region.As you travel along the main roads of Arthurs Seat Road, Flinders Road and Shoreham Road, you will discover a variety of interesting eateries, boutique shops and services. 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. Tucked away along roads and shady laneways around Red Hill, visitors will also find several galleries and cafes.
Balnarring and Merricks
Balnarring’s is a small village nestled between Hastings and Merricks. Balnarring shopping village is located 2 kilometres inland and includes a supermarket and a good selection of speciality shops. The shopping village is built around a large central car park which is surrounded by trees and gardens. The Balbirooroo Community Wetlands border the commercial centre, and include a lagoon and walking trails.
A large selection of wineries are located in the rural inland section of Balnarring and neighbouring community of Merricks. Just to the east of Balnarring on the coast in neighbouring Somers are the Coolart Wetlands. This nature reserve surrounds the historical Coolart Homestead which was built in 1895, and includes a lagoon where thousands of Australian white ibis nest every year, plus attractive picnic and BBQ areas.
Somers possesses a safe and pleasant swimming beach. The area is noted for its koala population, its foreshore walks and for the Coolart mansion and estate.
The coastline of Somers is home to 3 distinguishable beaches, South Beach, Somers Beach and the tidal flats of Merricks Creek Inlet. Somers is also home to The Somers Yacht Club which houses the WSC Marine Rescue Facility, who contribute greatly to the safety of Western Port Bay through the use of crash boats sent out to help capsized skippers and crew, or those in other forms of trouble.
All information correct at time of printing. Suburb profile information courtesy of visitmorningtonpeninusla and visitvictoria.com.au