Mornington Peninsula National Park (Cape Schanck - Portsea)
The Mornington Peninsula National Park has long been a favourite for summer holidays. 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
Things to Do
Swim or surf at the ocean beaches (for safety swim at patrolled beaches or in rockpools).
Try the 2.6km Bushrangers Bay Nature Walk, starting at Cape Schanck.
Take the wooden staircase and boardwalk which descends to the beach and rock platform at Cape Schanck.
Have a beach picnic.
Walk the ocean beaches or along the Main Creek Track through Greens Bush.
Admire the Blowhole at the end of Elephant Rock
View the famous landform London Bridge which is composed of sandstone and has been formed through weathering action of thousands of years of wind, rain and waves.
Horse riding between Boag Rocks and the beach access track at Paradise Drive, St. Andrews-Rye
Tour the Cape Schanck Lighthouse (adjacent to the park).
Enjoy the panoramic view from Arthur's Seat.
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.
Walking tracks have been built along most of the coastline from London Bridge to Bushrangers Bay, and through Greens Bush. Arrow markers outline walking tracks. Orange markers indicate longer through tracks and blue markers indicate circuit walks.
The most popular walks are: The Mornington Peninsula Walk
Experience the diversity of the Southern Peninsula from bay to bush, cape to point. Taking in many areas of Mornington Peninsula National Park this walk can be completed in sections or approximately 100km continuous walk linking the Two Bays Walking Track, Coastal Walk, Point Nepean Walks and Bay Trail.
Ocean beach walks Coppins Track
This walk starts at Sorrento Ocean Beach and winds 4 km along the clifftop to Diamond Bay. Take a walk through time, and discover some of the changes that have happened in the area during the last 100 years.
The Farnsworth Track links Portsea Ocean Beach with London Bridge along the cliff tops. The track is 1.5 km long and takes 30-45 minutes to walk one way. Start at either London Bridge or Portsea Ocean Beach and walk one or both ways along the track. Alternatively, complete a round trip by walking along the track and the beach.
This 11km track was constructed in the 1890s to provide better access to the coast after two devastating shipwrecks. A number of lookouts provide breathtaking views down the coast, with good vantage points at the Bay of Islands, St Paul’s, Koonya Ocean Beach and No 16 (the 16th lifesaving point). Detours to Diamond Bay, Jubilee Point and St Paul’s are well worth the trip.
The Coastal Walk
For those feeling more energetic, consider the 26km Coastal Walk which extends from Cape Schanck to London Bridge. See spectacular ocean views, hidden coves, rugged cliffs, tidal rock pools and dense coastal scrub. Arrow markers indicate the walking track, where orange markers indicate longer ‘through tracks’ and blue markers indicate circuit tracks to intersecting locations. Look out for the Hooded Plover symbol which identifies that you are on the Coastal Walk. Check tides before setting off.
Cape Schanck to Bushrangers Bay
Follow the Bushrangers Bay track from the eastern carpark at Cape Schank to see some of the best coastal scenery near Melbourne. The track finishes at Bushrangers Bay, a sandy beach formed by Main Creek and surrounded by basalt cliffs. The return walk takes about 2 hours.
An extension to the track is part of the Two Bays Walking Track and leads to Rosebud Flinders Road (3km). This track provides fine views and passes through shady banksia groves before continuing northwards across the road and through stands of eucalypt and banksia towards Greens Bush (10km).
From Fingal Picnic Area, the 3km track leads through dense ti-tree to lookouts over Bass Strait.
Greens Bush walks
Situated between Arthurs Seat and Cape Schanck, Greens Bush is the largest remnant of bushland on the Mornington Peninsula. The area contains a variety of vegetation communities and is a wildlife haven, making it an excellent place for nature walking.
Baldrys Short Circuit, 1.6km
A short but rewarding walk that takes you through eucalypt forest. Peppermint, Messmate and Manna Gum are the dominant overstorey species. Depart from Baldry Crossing (Melway map 254 G6).
Baldrys Long Circuit, 3.6 km
This track weaves further into the forest. There are several creek crossings, and the green, moist fern gullies are a welcome contrast to the drier forest. Depart from Baldry Crossing (Melway map 254 G6).
Long Point Circuit, 4 km
Accessed off the Two Bays Track, or midway between Highfield and Gate 3 on Rogers Road, this circuit passes through eucalypt woodlands with views across open grasslands and shady gullies of Coast Banksia and Blackwoods.
Two bays Walking Track, 8.9 km
This longer walk, an excellent way to see Greens Bush, is a link in the 26 km bush corridor from Dromana to Cape Schanck. There are several highlights along the trail - eucalypt forest mixed with spectacular stands of grasstree (the taller grasstrees may be over 200 years old), pockets of tea-tree thicket alive with birds, picturesque fern gullies and open grasslands. The Two Bays Walking Track is identified by a circular symbol displaying a Blue Wren, which can be seen on signage along the track.
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 .
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.
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, Point 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.
Some cliffs are unstable. Observe warning signs.
Ocean beaches can have dangerous undertows and unexpected large waves. Swim only at patrolled beaches.
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.
Park is open daily except Christmas Day. Opening times vary seasonally.
This is a lovely area for a walk when the weather is nice. We followed Bushrangers Track along the cliff next to the ocean to Bushrangers Bay. The walk is a bit more than 3 km each way from the car park at the Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve. The walk has lots of glimpses of the ocean and follows a narrow strip of coastal vegetation with cleared land on one side and sea on the other. Some parts of the track have a tunnel of tea-trees to walk through. There is also a track from Boneo Road to the beach (2.4 km one way). The beach is a fun area to explore and there were plenty of sea-shells. Each end of the beach is blocked by cliffs at each end and a small creek split the beach and flowed out to the sea. Cross rips make swimming at the beach dangerous.
At the Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve car park there are two unshaded tables and toilets. There is a 400m walk down a boardwalk and staircase to the base of the cliffs. This area is quite barren of vegetation and there are views of the lighthouse. You need to be careful of sudden large waves in this area. You can't get close to the lighthouse without paying a fee. We didn't bother since the cost seemed too high. There is a basic kiosk near the entrance to the Lighthouse.