At the tip of the Mornington Peninsula, about 100km (approximately two hour’s drive) south of Melbourne via the Peninsula Freeway and Point Nepean Road. You can also take a suburban train to Frankston, then bus to Portsea. The Queenscliff to Sorrento vehicular ferry allows you to make a trip around Port Phillip Bay. The park covers 560ha.
Overnight stays in the park are not available but there are plans for roofed accommodation and campsites at the Quarantine Station. Hotel, motel, guest house and B&B accommodation is available in Portsea, Sorrento and other towns.
About the Park
The Boon Wurrung/Bunurong people hunted and gathered food throughout the Mornington Peninsula. Like other Aboriginal people they suffered the impacts of European settlement by sealers, whalers and early settlers. From the 1840s, settlers burnt the local limestone to make mortar for Melbourne buildings and felled sheoak trees for fuel.
The small cemetery at Point Nepean has graves illustrating the various themes of the area’s history. There are graves of seamen lost in the wreck of the Cheviot, one of many ships wrecked at or near Port Phillip Heads. A headstone marks the family grave of people who died from typhoid in the first year of the Quarantine Station. In addition, there is a soldier’s grave representing the area’s military history, and the graves of some early settlers.
A temporary Quarantine Station was set up in the early 1850s so that people arriving from Britain, Europe and elsewhere could be checked for disease. Later, permanent hospitals and other buildings were established. The station’s busiest period was at the end of World War I, when thousands of returning soldiers stayed there during the influenza epidemic. It was in use at a reduced scale until the 1970s, and is well worth exploring.
Much of the station area was taken over as an Officer Cadet School in 1951, operating until 1985.
Point Nepean began to be fortified in the 1880s as part of the overall fortifications protecting Port Phillip Bay and Melbourne from enemy invasion. They were in operation until 1948, and by strange coincidence the very first shots of both world wars were fired from Point Nepean. You can find out the whole story at Fort Nepean near the tip of the point.
Point Nepean became part of Mornington Peninsula National Park in 1988, when the Commonwealth Government, which had held the land since Federation, handed it back to Victoria. Later, it became a national park in its own right.
We have had a long-standing interest in and involvement with Point Nepean, working with local people and groups to ensure it remains a place owned by the public and open to everyone, not just a few wealthy visitors.
Point Nepean was originally an open, grassy woodland with sheoaks, banksias, moonahs and other trees and shrubs. An early British visitor described it as being ‘like an English gentleman’s park’. Today, tea tree covers much of Point Nepean and there are many weed species, such as the purple-flowered polygala, but weed removal and planting of indigenous species are ongoing.
It’s a good place to see land and sea birds, and there are kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and possums.
Nepean Conservation Group
Email: [email protected]