THINGS TO DO IN THE MORNINGTON PENINSULA: AN OUTDOOR LOVERS GUIDE

Cape Schanck - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula – An outdoor lovers guide to some of the walks, wildlife and beaches in this beautiful part of Victoria.

The Mornington Peninsula is place we know very well. With family there, we have both lived here and spent a lot of time out and about exploring this awesome part of Victoria. Its proximity to Melbourne makes this one of the most popular escapes from the city. So whether you’re visiting on a day trip, a weekend or much longer break, there’s plenty to see and do. Here’s our list of the top things to do in the Mornington Peninsula for those who love getting out and exploring:

1. The Two Bays Walk

Maybe our favourite hike in Victoria. A really diverse walk taking you up Arthurs Seat, passing farmland and wineries, through the lush Greens Bush area of Mornington Peninsula National Park and past Bushrangers Bay, finishing in Cape Schanck. It’s the complete Mornington Peninsula experience in a day, giving you a bit of everything all in one walk.

Two Bays Walk - Cape Schanck - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Although many might be put off by its length, the 28km hike is well worth the effort. Starting in Dromana, once you’re up and down Arthurs Seat, it’s fairly easy going all the way down to Cape Schanck. There’s some amazing flora and fauna on the way so keep you eyes peeled for kangaroos, echidna, swamp wallabies and plenty of birdlife.

Read the full blog – Two Bays Walking Track

2. Cape Schanck

The southernmost tip of the Mornington Peninsula and home to the Cape Schanck lighthouse. Built in 1859, it’s possible to take a tour of the lighthouse, including the viewing platform. There is also an easy 600m circuit from the Cape Schanck carpark which provides great views of the coast and lighthouse itself.

Cape Schanck boardwalk

Our favourite part of this area is Pulpit Rock. This towering rock outcrop evolved over millions of years by volcanic activity and erosion. We definitely recommend heading down the boardwalk and stairs (pictured above) to see it close up. From the lighthouse, it’s just under 1km (one-way) to reach it.

Pulpit Rock - Cape Schanck

3. A scenic joy flight with Peninsula Aero Club

Want epic Mornington Peninsula views? A scenic joy flight with Peninsula Aero Club is the perfect way to really experience the beauty of this part of Victoria from up high. The high wing single-engine aircraft offers amazing birds-eye views over Mornington Peninsula and is an awesome experience.

Departing from Tyabb Airport, the joy flights last for 30-60 minutes, flying over the Mornington Peninsula’s stunning coastal scenery. Taking you up to the Port Phillip heads, Flinders and the back beaches, is there a more breathtaking way to explore this region? For more information checkout the Peninsula Aero Club website HERE

Aerial views of the Mornington Peninsula

4. The Coastal Walk

The ultimate coastal walk on the Mornington Peninsula. Taking you 30km+ along the southern side of the Peninsula, you really get to see all of the rugged beauty along this stretch of coastline. From sheltered coastal Moonah woodland, to long open sandy beaches, amazing rock formations and spectacular views, the Coastal Walk really is an interesting walk.

Fingal Beach Walk section of the Coastal Walk - Mornington Peninsula

30km+ sounds a little excessive to you? Don’t worry, the Coastal Walk consists of multiple smaller trails. Accessible by car, you can hike sections of the trail individually. Our favourite sections include the initial Fingal Beach section and various sections along the Lifesaving Track. Read our full blog: The Coastal Walk

The Coastal Walk - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

5. Explore Greens Bush

Exploring the Greens Bush section of the Mornington Peninsula National Park is definitely one of our favourite things to do. There are loads of quiet trails throughout and you can see all sorts of plants and wildlife. Even in peak holiday season, it always amazes us how incredibly quiet this beautiful part of the peninsula is. It is the ‘largest area of remnant vegetation on the Mornington Peninsula’. And there is a real variety of vegetation too, with eucalypt forest, fern gullies, grasstrees and more.

Two Bays Walking Track - Greens Bush

Whether it be longer hikes like the Greens Bush-Highfield Walk section of the Two Bays Walk or smaller hikes like the Green’s Bush Short Circuit Walk, we never get bored of exploring Greens Bush. And you never know what you’re going to find. All sorts of birds, kangaroos, swamp wallabies, echidnas and even koala’s live here. Though we’ve still to find one of the latter.

Echidna in Greens Bush

6. Fingal Beach Walk

Found north of Cape Schanck is the lovely Fingal Beach. Accessed from either Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve or the closer Fingal Picnic Area, the only way to get down to the beach is to walk. This involves a 5km round trip, depending where you start from. Despite having to negotiate over 400 stairs down a steep track, it’s well worth it. You’ll be rewarded with some beautiful viewpoints en-route too.

Fingal Beach Walk - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Please note – this beach is not patrolled. The reefs and rocks make this a dangerous beach for swimming and surfing. But if you are looking for quiet and picturesque section of beach on the Mornington Peninsula, then look no further. The effort required to access the beach deters the crowds, making it often almost deserted, just the way we like it!

Fingal Beach - Mornington Peninsula

7. The Highfield Kangaroo Track

For a nice easy kangaroo fix, look no further than the short ‘Kangaroo Track’ in the area known as Highfield. The Mornington Peninsula National Park has the largest population of Eastern Grey Kangaroos on the Peninsula and they are pretty easily seen. Starting just off Boneo Road in the carpark on Bunkhouse Break, this short track is often completely unknown to all those who flock to the nearby the nearby Bushrangers Bay Track.

The Highfield Kangaroo Track - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Visit early evening and you should literally see dozens. During the heat of the day the kangaroo mobs are usually resting in the shade of the bracken and are a lot harder to spot. But look carefully as you follow the track and you’ll may see heads pop up through the scrub as you pass. Remember, stick to the track and don’t unnecessarily disturb the roos.

The Highfield Kangaroo Track - Mornington Peninsula

8. Arthurs Seat views

Whether you hike, drive, or take the Arthurs Seat Eagle aerial gondola to the top of Arthurs Seat, there are no better viewpoints on the Mornington Peninsula. The 314m summit is by no means a mountain, but on a clear day you can see all the way across the bay to the You Yangs, Melbourne CBD and beyond.

Arthurs Seat views - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

From its summit, walk the 1.8km Arthurs Seat Circuit Walk for more great viewpoints and some lovely gardens, or just enjoy a picnic. If you’re walking or driving back down, make sure to stop at Murrays Lookout and Franklins Lookout for some of the best views of the Port Phillip Bay and Port Phillip Heads in the distance.

Arthurs Seat view - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

9. The Beaches on the Port Phillip coast

Look at those white sandy beaches and clear blue waters! How could you resist? We’re not always hiking and wildlife spotting! Sometimes it’s nice just to lounge on the beach and cool off in the sea. The beaches on the Port Philip coast are generally the best option for swimming on the Mornington Peninsula. The water along here is generally calmer and safer than the southern side of the Peninsula.

Beaches - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

With so many beautiful beaches on offer, it can be hard to know which ones to choose. Our suggestion is to visit them all! Some of the more popular options include the long sandy Mount Martha beach, the aptly named Safety Beach or the trendy Sorrento Beach. Just don’t forget to ‘slip, slop, slap’. We love ‘reef-friendly’ Sunbutter Skincare and unlike regular sunscreens, it doesn’t contain ingredients that contribute to coral bleaching. It comes in a tin and is good for our oceans, so it’s a ‘win, win!’

Hit the Beaches - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

10. Briars Wildlife Sanctuary

Found in Mount Martha, The Briars is a beautiful conservation site which includes a wildlife sanctuary, heritage homestead, eco-living display centre and even an astronomy centre amongst other things. Most people have never heard of it. And for us, the wildlife sanctuary in particular is a hidden gem! The Sanctuary is a ‘place which nurtures, protects and celebrates the unique flora and fauna of the Peninsula, now rare but not lost.’ There are several tracks at The Briars, both within the Wildlife Sanctuary and around the property to explore.

The Briars Wildlife Sanctuary - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Don’t be confused, this is by no means a petting zoo. And it’s not like the Moonlit Sanctuary. You certainly won’t be cuddling any Koalas here. But explore the trails inside the sanctuary and look carefully and you can find all sorts of creatures. It’s a great spot to find the elusive swamp wallabies, emu, kangaroos, echidna’ and is probably one of the better spots to look for koalas on the Peninsula. It’s also a wonderful place to see lots of the regions birds including one of the Peninsula’s smallest and prettiest birds – the Spotted Pardalote.

Swamp Wallaby at the Briars Wildlife Sanctuary - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

11. Red Hill Rail Trail

As the name suggests, this was an old railway line used to carry fresh apples to Hastings. From there they were dispersed to the various Melbourne markets. It’s a really pleasant and easy downhill walk from Red Hill to Merricks, finishing at the lovely Epicurean Red Hill Shed Restaurant – an ideal spot for a feed. The trail can be done as a oneway 6.5km walk and you can return using the same route. Otherwise connect to other trails using the ‘Peninsula PathLinks.’ Our suggestions include the trails around Coolart Wetlands or all the way down to Sandy Point via the quiet Somers beach.

The Red Hill Rail Trail - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Popular with joggers, dog-walkers and bike riders, it takes you through scenic farmland and wineries, with views over the Western Port to Philip Island. As well as the scenery, you’ll likely see Kookaburras, Eastern Yellow Robins and the friendly Fantails. And, with a bit of luck some of the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo’s who love the rows of pine trees found in this part of the Mornington Peninsula.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Mornington Peninsula

12. Bushrangers Bay

Accessed via the Bushrangers Bay Walking track, this secluded beach is beautiful and can only be visited by hiking in from one of two points. It’s an easy 2.5km walk from the Boneo Road car park. And if visiting early, you’ll likely see plenty of kangaroos en route. Alternatively, hike 2.6km from Cape Schanck car park along a slightly steeper track. Regardless of which route you choose, it’s worth the effort.

Bushrangers Bay Beach - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

What makes Bushrangers Bay particularly enticing are the crystal clear tidal rock pools that materialise as sea water is trapped by the falling tide. The rock pools are found at the far end of the beach, by the base of ‘Elephant Rock’ (pictured above). These natural swimming pools featured in the 2009 film Where the Wild Things Are, so if low tide is in the middle of the day on a sunny weekend, don’t expect to have them to yourself! They maybe secluded, but they are certainly not a secret anymore! Best visited on a warm and calm day at low tide, ideally early in the morning.

Bushrangers Bay Beach Rock Pools - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: This is an unpatrolled beach and the rock pools should only be visited at low tide by strong swimmers. Even then, extreme care must be taken. Take note of the warning signs about strong currents and rogue waves, people can easily be washed off into the sea. Very sadly, there have been some tragic, fatal accidents here.

13. Balcombe Estuary Boardwalk Circuit

This is a nice section of boardwalk and walking tracks leading you from Mount Martha’s Esplanade over to The Briars. It takes you along the creek through the Balcombe Estuary Recreation Reserve and Balcombe Reserve and if you want, under the Nepean Highway Bridge to the The Briars Park. The return trail to the Nepean Highway Bridge from the Esplanade is a very easy and flat 5-6km.

Balcombe Estuary Boardwalk - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Look and listen out for some of the lovely flora and fauna on the way, there’s a lot about. The ‘Yellow Robin Audio Trail’ is also available the whole way along the boardwalk at various stations. It was designed so Balcombe Estuary visitors could enjoy the nature reserve and learn about natural, historical and cultural significance of the area. Keep an eye-out for colourful birds like the Eastern Yellow Robins and Golden Whistlers. We’ve also seen Blue-Tongued Lizards, Swamp Rats and even an Echidna here.

Eastern Yellow Robin - Mornington Peninsula

14. Diamond Bay

Named after the Diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria, this quiet little bay is a locals favourite. Surprisingly, it’s still a reasonably well kept secret. Protected by sandstone cliffs, the beach is deep in the bay. Although it’s unpatrolled, the low waves makes this beach great high tide swimming spot on the the southern side of the Mornington Peninsula.

Diamond Bay - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Contributing to the beach’s quietness, is the very limited parking available nearby. So if you want to visit, you’ll need to get there early. Otherwise, you’ll need to park further away and walk there. There’s also some nice viewpoints only a few minutes away from the beach. So checkout St Pauls lookout and the Bay of Islands viewpoint while you’re there.

15. Sweetwater Creek Nature Reserve

Found just about inside what is classified as the Mornington Peninsula, Sweetwater Creek Nature Reserve is located in Frankston South. The name ‘Sweetwater’ comes from the local Boon Wurrung people. They named this freshwater creek ‘Narringalling’ which translates to ‘sweet water’. And, after the rains, these waters create some picturesque little cascading sections. A good spot for picnic or for kids to splash around, away from the crowds at the better known and more popular areas on the Peninsular.

Sweetwater Creek Reserve - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

Its 13 hectares of remnant bushland is a really nice little area to stroll. Popular with dog walkers, a lot of the paths are also pram-friendly, making this an ideal spot for a stroll amongst nature. The paths and boardwalks take you through varying terrain along the creek. There’s a nice variety of flora and fauna and you’ll likely see plenty of colourful birds like Eastern Rosella, Common Bronzewing, Superb Fairy-Wren and Kookaburras. It also the first place we saw a Tawny Frogmouth, of which there are apparently several families in the reserve. On our last visit we also saw a cute and tiny juvenile Australian Bush Rat scuttling on the trail.

Tawny Frogmouth - Sweetwater Creek Reserve

16. Millionaires Walk

Part of the Sorrento Portsea Artists’ Trail, this short and easy clifftop walk is a really pleasant little stroll. At around 1km in length it takes you literally right past some of the Mornington Peninsula’s most prime real estate. With luxury homes, private jetty’s, secluded beaches and stunning views over Port Phillip Bay, its a stunning part of the Peninsula!

Millionaires Walk - Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula

If starting the walk at Lentell Avenue in Sorrento, you’ll need to go through a gate to start the walk. Although it feels like you’re entering someones back garden, don’t worry, it is a public path. Don’t forget to bring your swimwear so you can head down to the quiet Point King Beach for a dip!

Things to do in the Mornington Peninsula - Millionaires Walk

17. Point Nepean National Park

Walk, cycle, or even scooter and skateboard around the various trails of Point Nepean National Park. There are historic buildings to explore, numerous lookouts to peer out from, beautiful beaches to swim at and a surprisingly good amount of wildlife to find, especially Echidnas in the warmer months.

Our favourite views are up from the Cheviot Hill, the park’s highest point. There are World War II fortifications up here as well as vistas over the whole National Park including Cheviot Beach, the site where former Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in December 1967.

In Summary

There it is. Just a small selection of some of our favourite things to see and do in the Mornington Peninsula. If you have some free time and are looking for something to do on the Peninsula, we hope this helps.


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2 Comments

  1. 14 December 2021 / 9:18 am

    THE ROCKPOOLS AROUND PULPIT ROCK ARE SOME OF THE BEST TO SWIM IN ON THE PENINSULA, BUT THEY GET BUSY SO GET THERE EARLY!

    • 15 December 2021 / 10:35 am

      Yes! You definitely want to get there early…. but also in sync with the tides 🙂

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