Mornington Peninsula National Park
The Mornington Peninsula National Park has long been a favourite for summer holidays. Covering 2,686 hectares, its diverse coastal environments range from the basalt cliffs at Cape Schanck to the native bushland of Greens Bush and the roaring surf of Gunnamatta. 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).
Try the Bushrangers Bay Nature Walk, starting at Cape Schanck, or the Farnsworth Track at Portsea.
Explore Point Nepean's historic fortifications and enjoy fabulous ocean and bay views.
Have a beach picnic.
Walk the ocean beaches or along the Main Creek Track through Greens Bush.
Tour the Cape Schanck Lighthouse (adjacent to the park).
Enjoy the panoramic view from Arthur's Seat.
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.
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.
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.
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 1st and 2nd World Wars. 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 park is home to 32 mammal species, 167 birds, 22 reptiles, 7 amphibians and 2 freshwater fish species.
Greens Bush supports the largest population of Eastern Grey Kangaroos on the Mornington Peninsula. Highfield is a good area for viewing kangaroos.
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 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.
Annual Parks Passes and Multi Day Parks Passes are available for Mornington Peninsula National Park. These can save entry fee costs for regular users, local residents and interstate visitors.
Sorrento Back Beach
Sorrento is the most generally accessible of the ocean beach sites in this park. The rugged coast can be appreciated from a cafeteria and nearby viewing platform. There is a steep descent into the car park from street level, and then again from the car park to the beach. The current beach access ramp is very steep. Near the top of the ramp there is a toilet that satisfies many criteria for accessibility.
Portsea Ocean Beach
The drop off from road level to beach at Portsea Ocean Beach is such that hang gliders are launched from London Bridge around to the west. There are steps down to the beach from the car park. A close viewing of the powerful open ocean is therefore relatively inaccessible, but more extensive views along the coast are available from the car parks above.
The track from the car park leading down to the rock formation known as London Bridge is not generally accessible. It is steep and has many steps. The path to the lookout is better, and is step free. There are designated accessible toilets at this site.
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.
Koonya Ocean Beach
The lookout at Koonya Ocean Beach is directly off the car park, making this site a good point to stop for an ocean view. The toilet block and path to the beach are currently poorly accessible. Sorrento Back Beach is probably better for longer visits and picnics because it has more accessible facilities.
Fingal Picnic Area
A games paddock is a major attraction of Fingal Area Picnic Area - great for children needing to burn off some energy. There is a defined route leading to this open grassy space, but no other paths around the site. The picnic tables among the trees are easily visible. The area is free of major obstacles, but the ground surface is uneven. Designated accessible toilets are not fully compliant.
Cape Schanck and the Lighthouse
The lighthouse has a narrow doorway and narrow spiral stair. The museum also has a narrow doorway, but overall is more accessible. The walk to the Cape incorporates a scenic lookout and a boardwalk. Accessibility is poor because there are many stairs.
>> Arthurs Seat State Park
>> Collins Historic Settlement
>> Coolart Wetlands and Homestead
>> Harold Holt Marine Reserve
Surfing, Swimming, Walking
3. Canoeing / Kayaking
4. Coach/Bus Tours
5. Horse Riding
6. Mountain Bike Riding
7. Sea Kayaking
8. Surfing/Surf Education