What’s special

Point Nepean National Park’s rich Indigenous and European heritage, plus its wonderful views of Port Phillip Bay and the ocean, make this a very special part of Victoria. Most of the area was out of bounds to the public for more than 100 years, creating a place with a strong mystique and highly significant natural and cultural values.

Best time to visit

Spring, summer and autumn are ideal for walking, bike riding and exploring Point Nepean’s history. Winter can bring wild winds and seas that are spectacular as long as you have appropriate clothing. Point Nepean is an exposed area with limited shelter and few facilities except at the Information Centre at the Portsea park entrance, and the Quarantine Station.

What to do

Explore Point Nepean on the park shuttle bus (private cars are not permitted beyond the Quarantine Station), by bike or on foot. There are great beach walks and panoramic views. Explore the historic fortifications and the Quarantine Station. Swimming anywhere at Point Nepean is dangerous and not permitted.

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Where

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.

Accommodation

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.

Natural History

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.

Friends groups

Nepean Conservation Group
Email: [email protected]