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Dromana, VIC

Mornington Peninsula beach resort town on Port Phillip Bay

Dromana is a holiday resort on Port Phillip Bay at the foot of Arthurs Seat.  The scenic beauty of the seaside destination began attracting holiday-making Melbournians in the 19th century and today Dromana is particularly popular with foreshore campers during the Christmas and Easter holidays. It has a substantial shopping strip along Point Nepean Road. The area is known for its vineyards and there are over 22 cellar doors in the immediate area. As well it has some outstanding bushwalking tracks and forested parklands.


Dromana is located on Port Phillip Bay 85 km south of Melbourne via the M3 and M11. 


Origin of Name

The area was known to Europeans as Hobsons Flat until it was renamed Dromana after a town in County Waterford, Ireland. Some sources argue that the name was chosen by the large number of Irish miners who arrived in the 1850s for the local goldrush.


Things to See and Do

Historical Society Museum
Located at 359A Point Nepean Road, the Dromana and District Historical Society Museum is located in the old shire building which dates from 1928 and was the administrative centre of the shire for nearly fifty years. It contains an extensive range of photographs, documents, domestic and farm equipment, and memorabilia about the area. It is open from 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm on the first and third Sunday of the month, tel: (03) 5981 9119. For more details check out http://avoca.vicnet.net.au/~dromana.

Historical Dromana
Most of the places of historic interest around Dromana have been demolished or destroyed - although there are a few that remain. The Dromana and District Historical Society has a series of locations where there are plaques recalling important places of interest. Check out http://avoca.vicnet.net.au/~dromana/dromana.html. The places include:
* Pioneer Pathway
* La Trobe Reserve
* Old Shire Office Dromana
* Dromana School Boatshed
* Dromana Foreshore
* Dromana Hotel
* Chapman's Forge
* Jetty Store
* Dromana Guest Houses

Dromana Foreshore Reserve
Dromana's Foreshore Reserve consists of grassy picnic areas, shelters, walking tracks and a small designated camping area. The beaches provide safe swimming and boating opportunities. The Dromana Pier (the first one was built as early as 1862 and the current one dates from 1959) and the rocky bluff and boat ramp at Anthonys Nose break up the straight and calm beach. There is an excellent website created by the Foreshore committee which provides information about the boatsheds and the caravan park. Check out https://www.dromanaforeshore.com.


Other Attractions in the Area

Wineries around Dromana
In areas like the Dromana and the Mornington Peninsula, where there are 22 cellar doors, it is best to refer to the specific knowledge provided by the local tourist information sites. The Mornington Peninsula Wineries site (https://morningtonpeninsulawineries.com.au/listing/wineries) lists a total of 94 wineries on the peninsula with 22 located in the immediate Dromana area. The site provides details of opening hours, phone numbers and contact points with directions to specific websites and details of cellar doors and ranges of wines.

Safety Beach
Located 4 km north-east of the centre of Dromana, Safety Beach has a very pleasant, dog friendly, 7 km (2 hours) walk north to the Safety Beach Marina. It passes both the pier and the marina and affords impressive panoramic views across Port Phillip Bay. There is a detailed description of the walk, complete with a map, at https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/3882.

Heronswood Gardens, Nursery and Restaurant
'Heronswood', located  at 105 La Trobe Parade, 2.5 km south of Dromana, is an impressive historic home described by the National Trust as "of national architectural importance, being an innovative and highly creative design" overlooking Port Phillip Bay. It was built in an asymmetrical Gothic Revival structure, of bluestone with limestone dressings, in 1871 for Dr William Hearn, an academic and politician who became the chancellor of Melbourne University. The architect was probably Edward La Trobe Bateman. An 1864 slab cottage is now the home of the Diggers' Club which supplies seeds. The house is open to the public from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm seven days a week, tel: (03) 5984 7900 or https://www.diggers.com.au. There are 2 hectares of cottage gardens which have been established on the original 1870s plantings.

Arthurs Seat State Park
Arthurs Seat is a steep granite hill (314 m above sea-level) which is the highest point on the Mornington Peninsula. In 1802 it was named by Lieutenant James Murray who was reminded of a mountain by that name located near Edinburgh. It was climbed later in 1802 by Matthew Flinders and by the 1850s had become one of the area's tourist attractions. Today it offers panoramic views across to Melbourne City, Mount Macedon and the You Yangs. The state park, which covers an area of 550 ha and was declared in 1988, offers a range of activities from riding the chairlift, through a children's walk, sighting animals including the brown bandicoot, koala, tree goanna, southern emu-wren and wedge-tailed eagle, bushwalking and mountain biking.
Arthurs Seat can be ascended three ways: by road, a one-kilometre scenic chairlift known as The Eagle (it runs from 11.00 am - 4.30 pm), tel: (03) 5987 0600 or https://aseagle.com.au), or via the Two Bays Walking Track.

Seawinds and the Summit Circuit Walk
Located near the Arthurs Seat summit, the 34 ha property known as 'Seawinds' contains extensive formal gardens and has a number of William Ricketts sculptures. The first European owner was George Chapman, the gardener at 'Heronswood', who lived in a homestead on the property. Work on the gardens was started in 1946 by surgeon Sir Thomas Travers and Lady Travers. They were officially proclaimed by the State Government in 1975. The gardens are ideal for picnics and the walks are memorable. The most popular walk is the:
Arthurs Seat Circuit Walk - 1.8 km - about one hour - the walk starts over the road from the Eagle Chairlift and includes the Matthew Flinders Cairn, five sculptures by William Ricketts and the Northern and Bay Lookouts. The gardens have more than 150 specimens of plants native to the Mornington Peninsula. Bay Lookout which faces west across McCrae, Rosebud, Rye and Sorrento to Port Phillip Heads and Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula. Beyond are the three pyramid-shaped peaks of the You Yangs, Mount Macedon to the right of them and the Otway Ranges to the south. The Northern Lookout has views which, on a clear day, look across to Mount Dandenong, the Great Dividing Range and the skyline of Melbourne. There is also an impressive indigenous garden. The route from the chairlift to the Seawinds Gardens is easy but there are steps and narrow paths for the rest of the way. A Parks Victoria map and information sheet can be downloaded at https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/313178/05_2352.pdf.

Two Bays Walking Track
The Two Bays Walking Track is a 26.5 km bush corridor that connects Port Phillip Bay at Dromana and Cape Schanck. The trail which starts at LaTrobe Parade in Dromana ends at Anthonys Nose. If you are fit it can be done in a day but most people prefer to spend two days or to do it in manageable sections. The trail passes through eucalypt forest, stands of 200-year-old grass trees, tea-tree thickets, fern gullies and open grasslands. Occasionally Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Black Wallabies, Echidnas, Koalas, Blue Tongue Lizards, Snake species, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, Kookaburras, Grey Fantails and Superb Fairy-Wrens can be spotted.
The trail starts on Latrobe Parade, crosses the Mornington Peninsula freeway and turns into the Bunurong Track (in Arthurs Seat State Park) and the Two Bays Walking Track then climbs the hillside to Seawinds Garden – stroll through the gardens and admire the panoramic view of Port Phillip and Bellarine Peninsula. The track then continues past the Kings Falls Track and leaves the State Park at Waterfall Gully Road, before following Goolgowie Street through a Shire reserve to Yambil Avenue along Duels Road and Gardens Road. This section is particularly steep. The section between Browns Road and Duels Road follows a narrow road reserve. Crossing Browns Road into Hyslops Road the track joins the Mornington Peninsula National Park section known as Greens Bush off Limestone Road. Crossing small creeks and passing beside Main Creek the track then crosses Boneo Road and passes Bushrangers Bay Parking Area and Bushrangers Bay on its way west along the coastline to Cape Schanck. For excellent, detailed directions check out https://www.trailhiking.com.au/two-bays-walking-track which also has a useful map.

Kings Falls Circuit Walk
Starting at 21 Purves Road, Arthurs Seat, this is a 7.2 km bush and gravel track (it takes around two hours) which leads off the Two Bays Walking Track to the Kings Waterfall Circuit Walk - a pleasant one-hour loop track which leads through bushland and a fern gully and past the waterfall which is situated on the south-western slope of Arthurs Seat. Signage along the route explains the natural history of the area. Check out  https://www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/PlacesToGo/Walks/AllWalks/tabid/399/View/5b57f85fa5bfa568238493be/Waterfall-Gully-Kings-Falls-Circuit-Walk/Default.aspx for more details. 

Enchanted Adventure Garden
Located 5 km south-east of Dromana at 55 Purves Street, Arthurs Seat (opposite Seawinds), the Enchanted Adventure Garden started life as Arthurs Seat Maze but, in recent times, it has become a hugely popular children's fun park with the main activity being Tree Surfing which involves climbing, jumping and swinging from tree to tree while always connected to a safety harness. There are three mazes (including a large hedge maze), some fun theme gardens, a Japanese garden, a 9 metre topiary Loch Ness monster, a board walk and hedge maze, tube slides, six slides including a snow-free ski run, a sculpture park with giant wood carvings and a canopy walk, a kiosk, gallery and a licensed restaurant. It is open Monday to Friday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm and Saturday and Sunday 9.00 am - 5.30 pm, tel: 03 5981 8449 or check out https://www.enchantedmaze.com.au.

Charlie's Auto Museum
Located at 185 Purves Road, Arthurs Seat, Charlie's Car Museum has a range of over 80 cars, motorcycles, bowsers, signs, model cars, micro cars and other automotive memorabilia housed in a 1940s-style garage. There is also a cafe, tel: 0419 887 801. It is open daily from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. For more information check out http://charliesautomuseum.com.au.

Greens Bush
Greens Bush is the largest section of remnant bushland on the Peninsula. It is an island of native forest and wildlife amidst a sea of farmland. There are many birds including honeyeaters, parrots, the wedge-tailed eagle, kites and wrens as well as kangaroos, the swamp wallabies, koalas and nocturnal mammals such as ringtail possums, sugar gliders and bats.
There are two good walks in the area:
Baldrys Short Circuit Walk, 1.6 km (one hour) which starts at Baldry Crossing and passes through eucalypt forest.
Baldrys Long Circuit Walk, 3.6 km (90 minutes) passes through several cool, moist fern gullies as well as Peppermint and Manna Gum woodlands. 
There is a useful, downloadable Parks Victoria note at https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/544597/park-note-MPNP-Greens-Bush.pdf.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Bunurong Aborigines.

* In 1803 Lieutenant James Murray undertook a 25-day exploration of Port Phillip Bay in the Lady Nelson and achieved an unusual historic first. At Point King, about 22 km west of where Dromana now stands, they raised the newly-created Union Jack.

* James Murray was quickly followed by Matthew Flinders who mistook Port Phillip Bay for Westernport and only discovered his mistake after climbing Arthurs Seat which had been named by Murray after a rocky outcrop near Edinburgh. 

* Two French ships were also exploring the southern waters at this time and, largely to forestall French claims to any part of the continent, the first European settlement on Port Phillip Bay was established by the British in 1803. 

* White settlement of the peninsula was not resumed until the 1830s after the establishment of Melbourne. 

* Pastoralists began bringing livestock into the area late in the 1830s and fishermen soon followed. 

* One of the first Europeans to reside in the area was a Frenchman named Simon after whom Simons Creek is named. He lived in a tree hollow on the slopes of Arthurs Seat and once, allegedly, ate 20 goannas in a week.

* In 1840 Superintendent La Trobe named Arthurs Seat, Anthony's Nose.

* In 1841 eight square miles of land (2070 ha) was surveyed from Dromana to Safety Beach and purchased by Hugh Jamieson.

* Andrew McCrae took up a pastoral run on Arthurs Seat in 1844. 

* Gold was discovered during the 1850s and prospectors arrived. The area was initially known as Hobsons Flat but was renamed after a town in Ireland, possibly reflecting the ethnic origins of the gold miners. 

* The first subdivision in the area occurred in 1854.

* The Dromana Hotel was opened in 1857.

* Dromana Post Office was opened in 1858.

* A school was opened in the town in 1860.

* Dromana was proclaimed a town in 1861.

* The construction of a 1.2 km pier at Dromana started in 1862.

* In 1871 the elegant 'Heronswood' was built at the foot of Arthurs Seat.

* The local pier was completed in 1872.

* A local shire was established in 1874.

* By the 1880s Dromana had become a popular beach and holiday resort for Melbournians.

* In 1898 the Arthurs Seat Hotel was destroyed by a bushfire.

* The Dromana Hotel was remodelled in 1927.

* In 1929 a road to the top of Arthurs Seat was completed.

* In 1938 an Avro Anson A4 on an RAAF training exercise crashed into Arthurs Seat.

* The town was savaged by bushfires in 1939.

* In 1942 a Bristol Beaufort A9-64 crashed into Arthurs Seat.

* A chairlift was built up to Arthurs Seat in 1960. It closed in 2006.

* In 1988 Arthurs Seat State Park was formally established.

* In the 2011 census 46.5% of the houses in Dromana were unoccupied. Holiday homes?

* In 2016 the new Arthurs Seat Chairlift was completed.


Visitor Information

Mornington Peninsula Visitor Information Centre, 359B Point Nepean Road, tel: (03) 5950 1579, open 10.00 am - 4.00 pm seven days.


Useful Websites

The official website is https://www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/PlacesToGo/TownsVillages/Dromana.aspx.

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