Point Nepean National Park
Point Nepean is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historic features, outstanding coastal scenery and panoramic views of Bass Strait, the Rip and Port Phillip Bay. Point Nepean has a long history of use by indigenous people and contains a wide number of aboriginal archaeological sites. The density of sites is amongst the highest in Victoria. Historic Point Nepean has old fortifications interpreted by displays and soundscapes, and spectacular views of the Port Phillip Heads.
Things to Do
>>Swim or surf at the ocean beaches (for safety swim at patrolled beaches or in rockpools).
>>Explore Point Nepean's historic fortifications and enjoy fabulous ocean and bay views.
>>Cycling at Point Nepean
Visitors can enjoy cycling through the park on any day of the year. You can bring your own bicycle or hire one from the Visitor Centre. Cycling is permitted on roads, which are available for public vehicles, including the sealed roadway from the Point Nepean Visitor Centre to Fort Pearce. After purchasing a ticket from the Visitor Centre, cyclists may continue along the scenic five kilometres to Fort Pearce, which is located one kilometre from Fort Nepean. Cycling is not permitted beyond Fort Pearce as the roadway is not suitable for bicycles. All bicycles must be left at the cycle rack provided. It is only a short walk to Fort Nepean.
The five kilometre roadway is shared with different road users including management vehicles, the park transporter and by park visitors driving to Gunners carpark or the former Quarantine Station. Please prepare your bicycle before visiting and carry a suitable repair kit and a bicycle lock. To allow adequate time to fully explore the fortifications, cyclists must commence their ride two hours prior to closure of Point Nepean. All bicycle and road regulations apply within Point Nepean. Please wear your helmet and remain on the left-hand side of the road at all times. Cycling is only permitted on Defence Road as all interpretative trails and tracks are not suited for bicycles. When either being approached or passed by the transporter, please stop and wait for it to pass. Do not overtake the transporter unless it is stationary. Point Nepean is not suitable for inexperienced or learner cyclists due to several hills, sharp bends and management vehicles using the roadway. All young cyclists must be over five years old and escorted by an experienced adult cyclist. Please check with the Visitor Centre for up-to-date opening times, entrance fees and road conditions.
>>A wide range of hotels, motels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts and camping and caravan parks are available in and around the townships of >>Dromana, Rosebud, Rye, Sorrento, Portsea, and Flinders.
>>You can also stay in the lighthouse keeper's quarters at the Cape Schanck Lighthouse.
>>Camping is not permitted in the park.
>>A transporter service operates daily from the Point Nepean Visitor Centre to Point Nepean with three stops along the way. The park closes at 5pm except during January when it is open until dusk.
Aboriginal people gathered shellfish and other foods along this coastline for many thousands of years. Extensive shell middens are reminders of their presence. Most sites are in remote places and are protected by the Archaeological and Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act 1972.
An early Ocean Beach Reserve was established at Sorrento last century and walking tracks and shelters were built. Cape Schanck Coastal Park was established in 1975; it became Point Nepean National Park in 1988, when part of the historic Point Nepean area, previously closed to the public for more than 100 years, was transferred from the Commonwealth to the State. The park was renamed Mornington Peninsula National Park in 1995 and the historic section of Point Nepean, Point Nepean National Park in 2005.
Over these years, including the last 40,000 years during Aboriginal occupation, the area known as Point Nepean has become enriched with environmental and cultural history. The Quarantine Station was established on the shores of Port Phillip Bay in 1852. It was used to protect the colony of Melbourne from ship borne diseases.
The Point Nepean Cemetery contains burials from the 1850's and are historically linked to early European settlement, quarantine, shipwrecks and defence.
Fort Nepean contains an extensive system of fortifications built from the 1880's through to the World War 1 and World War 2. Interpretive displays and audiovisuals are located in several areas and tell the story of defence.
The Australian Heritage Commission has listed the historic values on Point Nepean on the Register of National Estate. The area is also classified by the National Trust for its landscape values, including the western extremity of the Nepean Peninsula.
The remnant flora and fauna of the Point Nepean area is of a very high significance. It contains some of the last remaining examples of species which now have been lost to surrounding urban encroachment.
A remote and protected location, Point Nepean is a home to animals including bandicoots and the New Holland Mouse, and its intertidal zone is a habitat for a wide variety of shellfish and marine invertebrates.
Regionally important species include the White-footed Dunnart, Long-nosed Bandicoot, Black Wallaby, Singing Honeyeater, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Blue-winged Parrot and Hooded Plover.
Mornington Peninsula National Park, Pont Nepean National Park and Arthur's Seat State Park contain the largest and most important areas of native vegetation remaining on the Mornington Peninsula.
Native vegetation communities include coastal dune scrub and grassy forests, banksia woodlands, coastal heathlands, heathy woodlands, riparian forests, and swamps.
A number of vegetation communities, particularly coastal grassy forests, banksia woodlands and sand heathlands, have been greatly depleted since European settlement and are of particular conservation significance.
Looking After the Park
>>To protect soils and vegetation, please keep to walking tracks.
>>Firearms, and dogs and other pets, are not permitted, except for dogs at limited times on some ocean beaches.
>>No motorised cycles are permitted. A bicycle lock is recommended when leaving your bicycle for a walk. Parks Victoria and the Licensed Operator take no responsibility for loss, theft or damage to bicycles.
>>Fires and camping are not permitted.
>>Please take all rubbish away with you for recycling or disposal.
>>Don't disturb or remove any plants or animals.
>>Some cliffs are unstable. Observe warning signs.
>>Ocean beaches can have dangerous undertows and unexpected large waves. Swim only at patrolled beaches.
>>There may still be unexploded ordnance in the Point Nepean area. Keep to roads and tracks and observe signs.
How to Get There
The 90 km drive from Melbourne via the Nepean Highway and Peninsula Freeway takes about two hours. Alternatively, go by train from Melbourne to Frankston, then by bus to Portsea. Ferry services operating between Queenscliff and Sorrento cater for car, bicycle and personal transport. Melway maps 166, 253 and 254 give additional detail.
Special Needs Access
Specific information about site conditions so you can judge a site's accessiblity according to your own needs.
Point Nepean Section
Walter Pisterman Heritage Walk from Gunners Cottage to the Bay is promoted as being an accessible feature of this site. It is generally accessible, but lacks hand rails and is steep in parts. The most accessible route near the historic fort building leads from the shuttle-bus stop to the Old Barracks site via a tunnel, and back again via Gun Emplacement No.1. Other paths in this area have isolated obstacles such as steps and uneven surfaces limiting their accessibility.
>>Arthurs Seat State Park
>>Collins Historic Settlement Site
>>Coolart Wetlands and Homestead
>>Mornington Peninsula National Park
>>Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary
>>Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Parks Victoria