What’s special

This spectacular 2680ha park takes in almost all the wild ocean beaches of the Mornington Peninsula between Portsea and Flinders – a 40km stretch of coast – and also the largest area of bushland left on the peninsula. It protects coastal plants and animals, some threatened or endangered like the beach-nesting hooded plover, and a rich Aboriginal and European heritage.

Best time to visit

Summer and autumn are ideal for water-based activities and there are great opportunities for walking, bike riding and exploring heritage in all seasons. Winter walks along the ocean beaches can be wild and invigorating.

What to do

Enjoy beach and coastal walks, like those at Cape Schanck, Bushrangers Bay and Baldrys Crossing, plus the Two Bays Walking Track and Coppins Track near Sorrento. Explore rockpools with the help of the excellent pocket guidebook Life on the Rocky Shores. Go for a scenic drive and picnic, look for birds and other wildlife, or try fishing, diving, surfing and swimming. Note that many of the ocean beaches are unpatrolled and can be very dangerous for inexperienced swimmers. Look for patrolled beaches like those at Portsea and Sorrento. Dogs are no longer allowed in the Mornington Peninsular National Park.

A small but beautiful area is Pebble Cove at Mount Martha. When you walk it ensure you wear strong boots. And visit at low tide.

Fred Tropp-Asher
2 years ago

Where

Take the M3/Eastern Freeway, then Eastlink, then the M11/Mornington Peninsula Freeway. You can take the suburban train to Frankston, then a bus to Flinders, Dromana, Sorrento, Portsea or other town centres. You can also complete a round trip of Port Phillip Bay by taking the vehicle and passenger ferry between Sorrento and Queenscliff. The park is suitable for day visits from Melbourne.

Accommodation

Camping is not permitted in the park, but you can camp in the Rosebud, Rye and Sorrento foreshore reserves and a few other places. Hotel, motel, guest house, B&B, hostel and other accommodation is available in all the towns adjoining the park – see Visit Mornington Peninsular or phone (03) 5950 1579.

About the park

The Boon Wurrung/Bunurong people hunted and gathered food throughout the peninsula. Like other Aboriginal people they suffered the impacts of early European settlement, from sealers and whalers and from the first official (and short-lived) British settlement in what’s now Victoria, set up in 1803 near present-day Sorrento. Convict William Buckley has a fascinating story. He escaped from this settlement and lived with Indigenous people on the western side of Port Phillip Bay for more than 30 years before returning to European society in the new town of Melbourne.

From the early 1840s, some settlers burnt the local limestone to make mortar for Melbourne’s buildings and others felled sheoak trees for fuel. Later in the 19th century tourists began to arrive, often travelling from Melbourne by paddle steamer. Entrepreneur George Coppin built walking paths, rotundas and other facilities in and around Sorrento. Meanwhile, a Quarantine Station and fortifications were developed at Point Nepean, and other townships grew.

Natural history

The Mornington Peninsula was originally covered with open grassy woodland with drooping sheoak, coast banksia, moonah and other trees and shrubs. In Greens Bush there are still tall forests of messmate and other eucalypts with a shrubby understorey and tree ferns in moist gullies. Mammals include kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, wombats and possums, and there are many land and sea birds.

Friends groups

More than 70 Friends, Landcare and other conservation groups are active on the peninsula. Visit Southern Peninsula Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association for a list and details. SPIFFA is the Southern Peninsula Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association.