by Chris Burns, Hop To It Tours
Most people know the Mornington Peninsula as the Melbourne summer getaway and come here for the beaches or the wineries. What isn’t well known is how beautiful it is and that there are two national parks to explore with great day hiking options.
Here’s a brief rundown of some of the best half day hikes you can do here.
Point Nepean National Park sits on a spit of land at the bottom of Port Phillip Bay. Being at the entrance to the bay it has been used as both a fort during the World Wars as well as a quarantine station for early immigrants. As such there are still relics from this bygone era to explore. Ignoring that, it is also one of the best places to spot echidnas and also a beautiful place unto itself being the spot where the ocean meets the bay.
The Point Nepean National Park’s main hike is from the quarantine station to Fort Nepean and is around 11km return. You can also hire bikes or take the shuttle that goes every half an hour to shorten your stay.
The Mornington Peninsula National Park main area sits on the ocean side of the Mornington Peninsula between Port Phillip Bay (Portsea area) and Western Port Bay (Flinders area). There are many walks to do here and can all be combined to make a long day hike of over 30km. We are just going to look at a few of the shorter options.
London Bridge is an area in Portsea that you can drive or walk in from Point Nepean. Just down from the Portsea Life Saving Club it is a beautiful place to visit in low tide as the rock pools glisten and make for some beautiful photos. It is recommended to include here as part of a beach trip to Portsea or an add on when visiting Point Nepean.
If you continue walking along the back beach from Portsea to Sorrento a path will lead up from the beach to a track known affectionately as ‘The Artists Trail’. About a 5km walk, it is known as this as there are many beautiful coves to look down on, giving the artist many a spot to stop and pick up their paintbrush (or camera as it is these days).
Cape Schanck is 30km from Portsea so either requires strong legs to walk to or a car to get there if including it in with the other walks above. It is a beautiful spot where the lighthouse sits protecting ships planning on entering either Port Phillip or Western Port bays. The boardwalk here will take you down to the sea to explore the rock beaches below.
Another great place to visit in the Mornington Peninsula National Park is Bushrangers Bay. There are two tracks to it, both about 2km long. The first leaves from the Cape Schanck lighthouse. The second leaves from a car park on Boneo Rd. Both tracks are fairly easy walking but Cape Schanck dies provide the better car park.
Bushrangers Bay is a beautiful beach that has a spectacular section of rock pools that you can swim in at low tide. Go at the right time and you’ll be rewarded with the views below!