Surface: Mostly fine gravel with some sections of compacted earth, sand, boardwalk or sealed
Grade: Very easy (1) - Moderate (3)
Open: No seasonal closures
Wheelchair accessible: No
More information: visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/OurRegion/Trails/Walks/MorningtonPeninsula100kmWalk.aspx
Follow your feet to otherwise unexplored nooks and crannies on the Mornington Peninsula Walk. Breathtaking beauty and rich history on Melbourne's doorstep, the walk circumnavigates this gorgeous peninsula by linking four trails into a circular route.
Whether you tackle the walk in its entirety, or embark on one of the shorter components, you'll take in sights like the historic fort at Point Nepean, the foreshores of Portsea, Sorrento, Blairgowrie, Rye, Rosebud and Dromana, Arthurs Seat, stretches of forest and ferny glens, dark and brooding cliffs, and thick coastal ti-tree.
Long walks, food and wine
The 100-kilometre circuit incorporates short walk opportunities and the four peninsula walks; the Point Nepean Walks (16 kilometres return); the Bay Trail (26 kilometres) from Point Nepean to Dromana; the Two Bays Walking Track (26 kilometres) between Dromana and Cape Schanck; and the Coastal Walk (30 kilometres) between Cape Schanck and London Bridge.
Break up the rigours of the walks with the region's renowned accommodation, food and wine, always within easy reach of the trails. You can even camp along the Bay Trail's foreshore sites.
Point Nepean Walks, 16km return
Traversing the stunning headland marking the very tip of the peninsula, the gentle trails of Point Nepean National Park leave plenty of time for contemplation. As you leave the Information Centre and pass the old Quarantine Station – once described as 'one of the worst places anyone could set foot on' for its role housing those suffering ship-borne diseases in the 1900s – meander through Moonah bushland before emerging onto the weather-worn point as the boom of the ocean sounds out over the gun placements and fortifications.
The Bay Trail, 28km one way
Leaving Point Nepean National Park the trail weaves through Portsea and Sorrento, past the grand holiday homes of Melbourne's rich and famous. Stop at the Collins Settlement at Sorrento Historic Park, site of Port Phillip Bay's first settlement, and follow the folds of the land to the historic Lime Burners Kiln on the Rye foreshore.
The trail then snakes through foreshore campsites where countless generations of Melburnians have spent their summer holidays, passing through Rosebud to Dromana on pavement, dirt trail and a small stretch of boardwalk. Don't forget to stop for lunch at one of the many fine cafes along the way.
Two Bays Walking Track, 26km one way
The challenging trail summits Arthurs Seat before descending to historic Cape Schank.
Begin at the Latrobe Parade car park then climb high above the bay to the glorious vantage of Arthurs Seat. After navigating the back streets of Rosebud on the descent, the trail enters Mornington Peninsula National Park. From here it is delightful singletrack through eucalyptus bush, damp fern-filled gullies, heathlands and wonderful stands of big bottlebrush trees, until you can hear the roar of the ocean through coastal ti-tree.
You'll finally arrive at the Cape Schanck Lighthouse, perched high atop a cliff overlooking the sea.
The Coastal Walk, 30km one way
Spoil yourself with magnificent views of surf, sand, tidal rock pools and dense coastal scrub from cliff top tracks on the 30-kilometre hike from Cape Schanck to London Bridge at Portsea.
Leave your car at the Cape Schanck car park and head a couple of hundred metres back up Cape Schanck Road to the trailhead. The route follows mysterious sandy trails through tunnels of thick coastal ti-tree, offering frequent ocean views until it exits onto Gunnamatta Beach. Pass surfers carving up the waves along the beach until Rye Ocean Beach where you access a series of trails – including dramatic cliff-top, secreted singletrack through thick scrub and short beach sections – finishing at the London Bridge car park.
Alternatively, finish the whole Mornington Peninsula Walk by walking those last two kilometres to the start at the Point Nepean National Park entrance.
Suggested shorter options
There are two outstanding sections of trail recommended as excellent shorter itineraries.
Greens Bush to Cape Schanck, 14km one way
Requiring a car shuffle, this section takes you through eucalypt bush and delightful stands of banksias, with the final leg traversing high above the ocean through corridors of thick coastal ti-tree.
Rye to Portsea, 20km one way
Requiring a car shuffle (or use public transport), this section of the Coastal Trail between Rye and Portsea weaves through tight bushland and onto spectacular cliff lines with small sections of beach.
Suggested wheelchair accessible options
Point Nepean National Park is as rich with history as it is natural beauty. The 6-kilometre sealed path from the Information Centre passes the old Quarantine Station through Moonah bushland and by historic gun placements and fortifications to the wild tip of the point. A seasonal shuttle service that can accommodate standard wheelchair access is available.
Sections of the Bay Trail along the Rosebud Foreshore of the Mornington Peninsula also offer sealed paths and boardwalks.
Remember to be a responsible walker and be considerate of other people using the tracks, foreshore campsites and beaches. Ensure you keep to the tracks to protect native vegetation and reduce spread of disease.
Be mindful of the varying nature of the tracks, gradients and surfaces. Watch for cars when walking on shared vehicle tracks, and fallen tree limbs when walking through forested areas.
Enjoy the weird and wonderful wildlife that you'll encounter, but don't handle or feed them, and be aware of snakes, wasps, bees, ticks and ants.
When exploring rock platforms and beaches ensure you swim only on beaches patrolled by Surf Lifesavers to minimise the risks posed by ocean currents, rips and reefs. Check tides and beware of rogue waves.
Never light fires or create sparks and flames on days of Total Fire Ban, and observe local regulations in national and state parks. Always take your rubbish home with you.
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