Australia: An Epic Road-trip, Part 3

Part 3: The Mornington Peninsula

We continued with a scenic drive that took us along mountain passes, eucalyptus forest and misty mountains. We were greeted by a gentle rain as we crossed the border to Victoria. Then the weather got increasingly worse that it was hard to see the road. Three and a half hours later, we arrived in Metung. We missed our scheduled arrival at the hotel that after checking in, the only thing left to do was to have dinner. But most of the restaurants were closed. Luckily, we found an Indonesian/Mediterranean restaurant not far from our hotel. Oddly enough, it was still light after dinner, so we were able to catch the setting sun and take pictures of the sunset and its reflection on the water. When I woke up the next morning, R had already done his morning walk. He brought us coffee and scones that he got from the farmer's market across the street. It was the best scone I have ever had. We all went back to the farmer's market to get more scones, jam and bread and cheeses for the road. We hopped into the car and headed to Mornington Peninsula. The road that we were driving on appeared to be sandwiched between two bodies of water. I never saw so many boats in one place at one time

We stopped in the city of Bairnsdale to check out the famous church and to get some groceries at Woolworth's.  There were a few charming rural towns along Princess Highway including Rosedale, that did not offer many activities for tourists, but there was always a park with picnic tables. 

The Mornington peninsula offers many national parks and rugged coastline like the rocky, sea battered basalt headlands between Cape Schanck and Point Nepean, and beaches from Bass Strait to Gunnamatta, Portsea, Sorrento and Rye.  So, L booked a two-bedroom cottage at a Caravan Park in Rye for 3 nights and 4 days. On a side note: We were all disappointed with our accommodation. It turned out to be a one-bedroom with an extra bed placed in the common area. It was the most expensive accommodation we had on the entire road-trip and the Wi-Fi did not work.   

Arthur Seat/Wonga

We went to the Arthur Seat State Park summit before checking into the caravan park. Arthur Seat features the Arthur Seat Eagle, gondola rides that fly over the state forest to the highest point in Mornington Peninsula. But by the time we arrived at the summit, the cafe and Arthur Seat Eagle were about to close. So, we just walked around and found a wooded lawn with artwork display called "Remember Me". I read from the signage at the entrance that the artwork was created by Maree Clarke in custom neon sign, acrylic paint, calico and cotton thread.  Arthur Seat is also called Wonga known as the mother mountain, a deeply significant site in Boon Wurrung culture. "Remember Me" acknowledges and remembers the 44 tribes and language groups of south-eastern Australia. Each group/tribal name is written multiple times within a canoe star-shaped and spoken three times. 

There were also walking tracks that led to lookouts that provide panoramic views of Port Philip Bay. We did not walk the tracks but drove to the lookout points like Murray point and saw amazing vistas. Although we were not able to ride the gondola, the drive up and down the Arthur Seat summit was an exhilarating experience in itself. 

Sorrento

The following morning, we headed to Sorrento, an upscale neighborhood. We kept driving around looking for the Millionaires Row to start our coastal walk.  L said that it's supposed to be one of the best walks in the world.  We finally found the sign "Welcome to Sorrento" on Point King Road. I did not think it was the entrance to the coastal trail. However, we drove to Point King Road which was a "No Through Rd" and parked the car under the tree by a huge white fence that says Point King. But it looked as if it was an entrance to a private home, one among the many gated homes with gorgeous gardens. There was a gated pathway and steps at the end of the road, but the gate was locked. I accidentally found a grassy foot path that led to a trail. The path that we thought was private turned out to be a part of the coastal trail that took us to a gorgeous view of white sand beach and waters of turquoise shade.


After the walk we went to the town center to get some food. Sorrento was a charming village with nice cafe and restaurants. But what impressed me the most was the public toilets. I've traveled around the world, but I've never seen a public toilet that was as state- of- art as the one Sorrento.

Mornington Peninsula National Park & Mount Martha South Beach

Next, we headed back to the Mornington Peninsula National Park to continue our hike and checkout the popular sites that include the London Bridge and the Copins Lookout.

London Bridge

The view from the Copins Lookout

We spend the rest of the afternoon at Mount Martha's beach. In contrast to the beach in Sorento we visited earlier, Mount Martha's South Beach was livelier with more people and colorful bath boxes.


From Salt Water to Peninsula Hot Springs.  

We end the day with a relaxing bath in the warm pools at Peninsula Hot Springs.  The Peninsula Hot Springs offered many pools with water that range from cold to hot temperature. I would have preferred a more private and secluded setting for a SPA and Hot Spring, but the Peninsula Hot Springs seemed to be popular with weekenders. There were young children swimming in our pool, so L & I went to explore the other pools on the hillside.

Point Nepean National Park & Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve

The first two days we spent in Mornington Peninsula were cloudy with threatening rain. But we were quite lucky, the clouds cleared up for most of the duration of our outdoor activities.  On the 2nd night, thunder, lightning and heavy rain kept me awake. I was afraid that we would not be able to do anything the next day.  But we woke up to a clear sky. The forecast said there would be thunderstorm all day, so we were pleasantly surprised.  Our plan for the day was to explore Point Nepean National Park situated at the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula. It is a mix of beautiful landscape and rich history. There were few historic buildings that date back to the 1800 - Shepherd Hut, Quarantine Stations and military buildings used in the 18th and 19th century.  

We went to the visitor center to get a map. The park ranger told us that we could take the bus to the Fort Nepean. But we wanted to do some hiking so, we drove and parked the car by the Gunners Cottage (Cars are not permitted past that point) to start our walk. It was about a three-mile walk to Fort Nepean, but we took the long route to see other points of interest like the Observatory Point. Menacing clouds rolled in as we reached the hillside, so we did not get to explore much at Fort Nepean. 

 


The rain quickly stopped as we hopped into the car. So, we continued to explore other parts of the Mornington National Park including the Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve. We walked to the lighthouse and lighthouse museum. and walked the Cape Schanck Circuit Track. The view was stunning. The trail goes into a boardwalk and stairs to pebble beach. As I attempted to go down to the Pebble Beach, the wind hit, gusty, and almost knock me off my feet. Good thing I was able to hold on to the railings.

Cape Schnack & Pebble Beach

As we returned to the car, the wind subsided. So, we decided to see the Blow Hole, another highlight of the Mornington Peninsula National Park. It did not seem to be a popular site. The Blow Hole Park signage and the stairs to the lookout were covered in overgrown grass. We saw some big waves crashing into the big rocks and sea cliff, but it was basically a dangerous area to visit.  We left the Mornington Peninsula National Park late in the afternoon.  The second we hit the Caravan Park, the downpour began anew. The bad weather and flooding in some parts of Australia, dominated the evening news. It was also the first time I heard of the weather warning, "Sheep Grazier Warning." 

TO BE CONTINUED...

PHOTO GALLERY

Gippsland Lake Foreshore Reserve, Metung

Cape Schanck









NOTES
  1. All photos by the author
  2. Did not use my travel companions' real name in this blog to protect their privacy.
  3. I have no material connection to the products, brand names or tourist sites mentioned in this blog. 

Comments

  1. Wow! I really enjoyed every part of your journeys. Such a vivid recount and beautiful photos.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Road trips are really best source of fun with my mates and this will be really a good way of fun. I will be really glad if i will be there after coming back from a trip Goldenbustours.

    ReplyDelete

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