On Friday morning, we left Melbourne for Mornington and Arthurs Seat. We were in Lucy’s little gold bullet and packed to the gills with art supplies, food, and wine. And a few clothes squeezed in. We headed down the highway towards the Mornington Peninsula to visit Arthurs Seat and Point Nepean. I was using my new camera, a Canon 7D, for the first time. I was looking forward to trying it out.
Enchanted Maze Garden
We ended up taking a very circuitous route thanks to Tom Toms odd navigation. However, we arrived in Arthur’s Seat a little after 1. pm. The first stop was the Enchanted Maze Garden for lunch and a walk around the beautiful gardens. There are 5 acres of formal gardens, indigenous sculptures, mazes, and walks in a stunning place.
We spent a good 2-3 hours wandering around the gardens, uphill and down dale. across bridges, past billabongs, ending with the 3D maze. (which we had not been warned was not for the faint of heart. scared a few years off both of us 🙂 )
Cloudy outside, but we decided to sally forth regardless. So we headed off around 10.30 am towards Pt Nepean National Park. Partook of breakfast at ‘Baked in Sorrento’, and then fortified by Latte’s and Berry Muffins, we arrived at the park. I left the car and boarded the transporter. Point Nepean is the very tip of the peninsula. All ships entering Port Phillip Bay must go past Pt Nepean, so it was considered a strategic point, hence building a Fort at the tip.
Our first stop was the Gunners Cottage (we bypassed the Quarantine Station). Gunner’s cottage is the only access in the entire park to the beach. The lovely deserted looking thing with a decaying relic of a cattle pier was built around 1850. The settlers brought cows, sheep and horses with them, and this was where they were unloaded.
We walked the 1.7kms to Cheviot Hill. Just near here, where Harold Holt, Australia’s 17th Prime Minister, went missing in wild surf on Dec 17th 1967.
Cheviot Beach was restricted, but Holt had special permission to swim there. Unfortunately, while he was a strong swimmer, he carried a shoulder injury. Cheviot is also a treacherous beach with strong undercurrents. That day the sea was apparently very rough. He entered the surf, disappeared, and despite the largest and most prolonged and extensive search in Australia’s history, his body was never recovered.
Bizarrely enough, Point Nepean fired the first shots in both the first and second world wars (trigger happy?). On 5 August 1914, the German ship SS Pfalz attempted to escape Port Phillip. Within minutes of being notified that war had been declared, Lieutenant-Colonel Sandford at Fort Queenscliff ordered Lieutenant C Morris, the Fire Commander at Fort Nepean, to “stop her or sink her”. After the Pfalz ignored signals to halt, the B1 gun fired across her bow. The Pfalz then turned around, and the crew was arrested at Portsea. Then at 1.30 am on 4 September 1939, within hours of war being declared, the A1 gun fired across the bow of a ship that failed to identify itself. The ship was then identified as the Australian freighter SS Woniora. These were the only occasions any Port Phillip batteries fired in anger.
We wandered around Point Nepean fort. Down the 115 stone steps to the engine house. Legend has it that the soldiers training at the base had to go UP them. And their best time was 34 secs. It took us longer than that to walk down them!
After making it back to the top, we took the transporter back to the car park. And headed to Ella Bache in Rye for a ‘Heaven On Earth’ massage. After doing approximately 5 kms walking around Pt Nepean, I can say it was! Massage rocked, and the hour was way too short can highly recommend them!
That evening we ‘arted’ some more, and played cards.. great day followed by a fab night!