The Mornington Peninsula is a narrow, geographically notable stretch of land bordered by two bays and the vast waters of Bass Strait. This allows for an outstanding selection of natural environments within a few short kilometers. There is a great diversity of landscape and habitat to explore – whether scampering across glorious bay beaches, discovering the exceptional flora and birdlife of Green’s Bush, or meandering the boardwalks above the mangroves between Jacks Beach and Hastings.
Somers Beach Walks
Somers to Sandy Point Beach
Walk into pristine wilderness on a quiet beach at low tide. The walk from Somers to Sandy Point beach offers spectacular views to Phillip Island, and once past the point, French Island can be seen. Huge old fallen banksias and many sculptural forms of driftwood will appeal to a roaming beachcomber. They say that once in every seven years the elusive paper nautilus shell has been known to appear here.
Start: Carpark on Miramar Road, near corner of Belvedere Road, Somers.
Somers Beach – from The Promenade
Grab your towel and bathers – this little beach is perfect for swimming. Stroll past the mouth of Merricks Creek and you could be tempted to swim out to the old bathing platform, to rest on rafters as you listen to gentle waves calling your name.
Start: Past the Somers Yacht Club on Parklands Avenue, find entry via a little track called The Promenade.
Koala Walk and She-oak Walk
Fancy a walk along a sheltered clifftop path, with the bay breeze following as you descend to meet a glistening shoreline? Both the Koala Walk and the She-oak Walk are popular foreshore trails. The She-oak Walk offers a couple of secluded benches, where you can ponder the bomboras breaking over distant reefs while gazing across the bay to Philip Island.
Start: The upper carpark opposite the Somers General Store. Find an information board at the carpark highlighting the direction of these walks.
Coolart Wetlands and Homestead
Explore a grand mansion, full of history from a bygone era, and its extensive gardens. Enjoy curiosities in the nature displays at the Visitors Centre, then stroll one of the several woodland walking loops adjacent to the property. From a bird hide, you can experience a lagoon that teems with seasonal nesting broods of up to 500 Australian white ibis, and is also habitat for several species of frog. A walk to the saltmarsh of Merricks Creek is possible, and if you cross the bridge be impressed by the invigorating panorama of Westernport Bay.
Green’s Bush – Baldry Crossing Circuit
Be inspired as you walk the sheltered walking-tracks of Green’s Bush, the largest remnant bushland on the peninsula. This tranquil location boasts fern gullies, eucalypt forests, and occasional creek crossings over bridges. An early-morning stroll might find you keenly spotting black wallabies in the shadows while being distracted by an imposing chorus of birds. As dusk descends, listen to the soothing twitter of sugar-gliders or the sonic call of little bats as they catch insects. The place is definitely less busy in the off-season – if you visit midweek or midwinter you might not see anyone, the banksias and grass-trees now your sole companions.
Start: Baldry Crossing, Baldrys Road, Main Ridge
Jacks Beach Reserve to Hastings
History unfolds at the beginning of this walk as you uncover a stone-laid tanning pit built by the Jack family in the early 1900s to preserve fishing ropes and nets. Then head west on a protected path to start on the extensive boardwalk that skims above the eerie moors of Westernport mangroves. Definitely a different experience as you contemplate this unusual ecosystem, an area noted for its importance in the international RAMSAR List of Wetlands. Many migratory birds, fish and crustaceans find this mysterious landscape their home.
Start: Jacks Beach Reserve, Bittern