|Walk through the township and, with the help of the Heritage Walk booklet (see link below) enjoy the historical features of Sorrento through its heritage buildings. Learn about the town’s history and study the diff erent building methods.
History of Sorrento - Before recorded history, the Bunurong people came regularly to
gather shellfi sh from the rock platforms along the coast. To help in hunting game, they periodically lit fires to control the scrub and this gave the area a parklike appearance with the drooping casuarina, moonah and wirilda.
Acting Lieutenant Murray found the entrance to Port Phillip in 1802 and the fi rst offi cial white settlement was established under Lt Col. Collins at Sullivan Bay in 1803. Sorrento can be called the ‘Cradle of the State’, even though the settlement was abandoned
After Melbourne was established in 1835, the first pastoralists appeared on the Nepean Peninsula, but they soon found producing lime from the local limestone for the ever expanding Melbourne their most lucrative occupation. Th e indigenous trees, cut to fi re
the lime kilns, were soon replaced by the faster growing tea-tree. By the 1870s wealthy Melbournians were interested in the beauty and health-giving properties of the district. In 1863, Sir Charles Gavan Duff y, Member of Parliament and later Premier of Victoria,
purchased land at Point King and built a holiday house. He named ‘Sorrento’ after the beautiful Italian coastal town and subdivided land for holiday houses. Sorrento Park (1870) was established using fast growing exotic trees supplied by Ferdinand von Mueller. A hotel, butcher’s shop, church and schools were built nearby.
It was the Hon. George Selth Coppin actor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and Member of Parliament, a man with enormous energy and teeming with ideas, who saw in Sorrento the potential for a resort for the general population. His companies purchased much of what became the newly located centre of Sorrento and built the Continental Hotel (1875), a guesthouse, houses and baths and introduced a seasonal ferry service from Melbourne. He built Ocean Beach Road to the Back Beach (Amphitheatre) and paths
along the cliff -top. Land near the Continental Hotel was sold for shops and Ocean Beach Road (then called Ocean Amphitheatre Road) became the main street of Sorrento. Later, his companies operated a steam tram, with a line from the pier to a café at the
Amphitheatre, from 1890 to 1920.
The walk is mainly along Ocean Beach Road and includes 18 points of interest.