Point Nepean National Park – Mornington Peninsula
One of the highlights of visiting Mornington Peninsula is driving all the way to the bottom of the peninsula to explore the Point Nepean National Park. This park is full of history dating back to the 1880s and was used for Victoria’s defenses until the end of World War II in 1945. Fort Nepean is located at the very point of the peninsula and was used to house gun emplacements, barracks, tunnels, ammunition magazines, an engine house and even a bomb-proof room.
The plan was to walk from Quarantine Station to Fort Nepean, passing Observatory Point, Gunners Cottage, and Fort Pearce along the way for a total of 4.5km walking. I read it was a paved path so it did not sound like an intense hike or anything, just a stroll. But we did learn that there is a shuttle that takes guests from Quarantine Station to Fort Nepean for a $12 fee.
The GPS had a bit of a panic attack as we drove into the park and it led us past Quarantine Station and we ended up at Gunners Cottage. It ended up being a good accident but we parked at Gunner Cottage to start our walk to Fort Nepean. From here it was a 2.8km walk to Fort Nepean which actually worked better in our day to fit more in. The parking lot here was empty so arriving early around 7:30AM was definitely the way to go. The first stop off on the way is Observation Point and as the sun had just risen, this was a great stop off point to get an overview of the area.
We started the rest of the walk and I had expected it to be coastal with a view but the beginning was all trees and brush. I had second thoughts about spending 2-3 hours here but it was such a recommended walk that we continued on.
After a little bit of walking, the trail started to climb above the trail brush and the coast revealed itself. The views were already wonderful so we were very excited for the rest of the trail.
There are two forts on this walk and the first one is Fort Pearce. We skipped exploring the fort portion because the views from here were so epic. This had to be one of the best views of the coastline! We spent quite a bit of time here just taking in the views.
The rest of the trail was a bit hilly to the final destination of Fort Nepean. The views at the point were expansive – you can easily see the other side of Melbourne. The fort itself is super cool as you can go inside and explore the various tunnels, rooms, and lookouts. Some portions even come with motion sensor sound effects which were quite startling – we were the only ones there!
We spent a lot of time here going through the fort. When we got down to the shore line, we had the pleasure of spotting a hawk and a sea lion which was quite a surprise. There was even a park ranger there evaluating the sea lion – presumably to make sure it was not injured.
The walk back was a tad quicker since it was more downhill this time. And the number of people going towards the fort definitely went up – it was still hard to believe we had the entire place to ourselves.
Back at Gunners Cottage, we drove over to the Quarantine Station. This historical area is known for receiving boats and quarantining the people and livestock serving as an infectious disease facility. It first started in 1852 as a boat with typhus arrived and since then has been expanded until its closure for this purpose in 1980. This area was fun to explore and I really loved the Foul Luggage Receiving Store, Disinfection and Boiler building where they would send items through high heat as a disinfectant and had a boiler to incinerate any contaminated items. This model ended up being the stadnard established throughout the country.
There is a lot more to explore at Fort Nepean National Park but we had much more to see and do on the Mornington Peninsula.