Quiet seaside holiday town on the Mornington Peninsula
There was a time, thirty years ago, when Flinders, once known as Mendi-Moke, was a small, tranquil and attractive village located on the southern side of the Mornington Peninsula. It comprised nothing more than a general store, a post office, a small jetty, some antique stores, galleries and restaurants. In recent times it has become fashionable with a housing boom bringing holiday makers and ensuring that during the summer months it is a family-friendly destination within easy reach of Melbourne.
It is a town positioned between two very different forces: on the northern side it is lapped by the calm waters of Westernport while 400 metres on the southern side, are rugged cliffs and windswept ocean beaches. Flinders is also in an area of national parkls, wineries and the rugged grandeur of Cape Schanck. The climate is mild, being warmer than Melbourne in winter and cooler in summer.
Flinders is located on the southern side of the Mornington Peninsula, 99 km south of Melbourne.^ TOP
Origin of Name
Flinders was named after the explorer and navigator, Matthew Flinders, who reached Port Phillip in April, 1802. He did not set foot on the place which takes his name.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Located at the foreshore end of Cook Street and along The Esplanade, this pleasant park offers views down on the Flinders Pier and boat ramp, has a monument to George Bass and Matthew Flinders and has panoramic views over West Head, across the mouth of Westernport to Seal Rocks and The Nobbies on Phillip Island and up the coast to Somers. The views are impressive and it contains a microcosm of the early history of the district.
Walks around Flinders
The Parks Victoria website for the Mornington Peninsula National Park (see https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/mornington-peninsula-national-park/things-to-do/walking) lists a total of eleven walks in the area. They either make their way along the coastline or pass through the forests and the hinterland between Flinders, Cape Schanck and Dromana. Some of the more interesting are:
Cable Station Walk
The Flinders Cable Station Walk, which traverses the foreshore area, commemorates the establishment, in 1869, of a telegraph station which connected mainland Australia and Tasmania. There is a sign near the jetty which indicates the walk up the hill to the Cable Station. The cable initially terminated at a receiving station near the jetty. There is a very simple plaque in the Foreshore Reserve near the Bass and Flinders monument. The inscription reads: "These foundations mark the site of the original Flinders Cable Station. The Flinders Cable Station was the mainland terminal of the submarine cable laid in 1869 connecting Tasmania to the mainland telegraph network. The cable was operated by the Eastern Extension Cable Company and stretched 320 kilometres from Flinders to the mouth of the Tamar River in Tasmania. Morse Code messages were received and recorded in a hut on the beach situated near the Flinders Jetty and were then relayed from here. The operating staff lived in a house in the valley between the hut and the main building which were linked by a pathway up the cliff. The company constructed a new base in Cove Lane in 1891 to which the cable was extended and operated from there until 1909 when the whole system was taken over by the Commonwealth Government and linked directly into the landline." The whole system was replaced by telephony in 1936 and the telegraph station was demolished in 1961.
Flinders General Store
The Flinders General Store, located prominently on Cook Street is located on the first town allotment sold in 1866. It was sold to John Brent but he died soon after and it was taken over by his widow who established a store which was also the local post office until 1881. It is a reminder of the early years of European settlement in the district.
Church of St John the Evangelist
Located at 29 King Street, the Church of St John-the-Evangelist was dedicated on 28 January 1892. The building was designed by architect William Barker and was constructed in brick in the Gothic style. The original building consisted of nave of four bays, western porch and a small sanctuary. On 11 June 1935, major additions to the church were dedicated. These consisted of transepts, sanctuary and vestry, all designed by architect George Smith. In 2005 a pipe organ, dating from 1874, was installed.
Other Attractions in the Area
Located 4 km from town via Boneo Road and Blowhole Track, this is an accessible point along the coast between Flinders and Cape Schanck. The lookout offers impressive views of Elephant Rock and there is a track and boardwalk down to Little Bird Rock (an excellent place for viewing birdlife) and a stairway down to the blowhole which is at the end of Elephant Rock. Blowhole Walk (1.2 km return from the car park) leads over huge bluestone boulders to the ocean. The rock platforms are accessible at low tide. Garnets and sapphires have been found in the sand. For more information check out http://www.discovermorningtonpeninsula.com.au/sightseeing/flinder-blowhole.php.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse and Museum
Located on the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula - 20 km south-west of Flinders, at 420 Cape Schanck Road, the Cape Schanck Lighthouse was built from limestone in 1859 and named after Lieutenant John Schanck of the Royal Navy. It is 21 metres tall, 100 metres above sea level and the light has a range of 25 nautical miles. Internally it has a stone staircase rather than the usual wrought iron. The present lighting apparatus was installed in 1915 and upgraded in 1917 and 1940. The building was renovated in the 1970s and 1980s. It is now on land administered by Parks Victoria who offer accommodation in the lighthouse cottage and have installed a boardwalk to the rock platform. Guided tours depart operate from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm daily. Visitors can walk up the stone staircase and enjoy the view from the balcony. For more information check out http://capeschancklightstation.com.au/tours-of-the-cape-schanck-lighthouse, tel: (03) 5988 6184. Nearby, located in the old Assistant Light Keeper's house, is the Cape Schanck Lighthouse Museum which has interesting displays of the early lighthouse technology used in Australia.
Cape Schanck and Mornington Peninsula National Park
There are a number of excellent walk through the bush and along the coastline which start at, or near, Cape Schanck Lighthouse. Check out the Parks Victoria site at https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/mornington-peninsula-national-park/things-to-do/walking.
Fingal Beach Walking Track
The Fingal Beach Walking Track from Cape Schanck (5 km) leads through areas of dense tea-tree growth, past lookouts with outstanding views of the basalt cliffs then steeply down to Fingal Beach. It is now part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park This trip is best undertaken at low tide if you wish to explore the coastline.
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 either spend two days or to do it in manageable sections. The trail passes through eucalypt forest, stands of 200-year-old grasstrees, 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 at Cape Schanck, heads east along the coastline and passes Bushrangers Bay and the Bushrangers Bay Parking area. It then crosses Boneo Road, travels alongside Main Creek and crosses a number of smaller creeks. It then enters Greens Bush off Limestone Road and passes out of the Mornington Peninsula National Park as it enters Hyslops Road and heads towards Browns Road. A steep section heads up Gardens Road to Duels Road and then to Yambil Avenue to Goolgowie Street and Waterfall Gully Road past the Kings Fall Track and towards Seawinds Garden where you can stroll through the gardens and admire the panoramic view of Port Phillip and Bellarine Peninsula. It then heads down the hill on the Two Bays Walking Track before connecting to the Bunurong Track which crosses the Mornington Peninsula freeway and heads towards Latrobe Parade at Dromana. For excellent, detailed directions check out https://www.trailhiking.com.au/two-bays-walking-track which also has a useful map.
The Bushrangers Bay Walking Track
Located 9 km west of Flinders at 1350 Boneo Road is a carpark and a walking track (6 km one way) which leads to the secluded beach at Bushrangers Bay. It is part of the Two Bays Walking Track. There is an excellent, and detailed, explanation at https://www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/PlacesToGo/Walks/AllWalks/tabid/399/View/5b580916f1e5a54f4cec9698/Bushrangers-Bay-Walking-Track/Default.aspx which describes the walk as "Named after two escaped convicts, the bay comprises of a sandy beach surrounded by basalt cliffs. This serene location is contrasted by the dark and brooding headlands and wild waves that often crash onto jagged rocks guarding the entrance to the bay." Walkers can continue on for 2.6 km to Cape Schanck.
Ten kilometres west of Flinders along Boneo Road is a signposted turnoff into Long Point Road which leads into 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.
The Coastal Walk
There is a superb 30 km coastal walk along the southern side of Mornington Peninsula from Cape Schanck to the Point Nepean National Park. The route is clearly marked by orange markers and blue signs to indicate departure points for circuit tracks to interesting sites. The total walk takes around eight hours but there are about 30 access points to the coast, mostly from roads which run off Point Nepean Road, consequently it is possible to explore shorter sections. The journey takes in dramatic cliffs, unusual rock formations, tidal rock pools, sand dunes, panoramic views, dense coastal scrub and rugged beaches including Blairgowrie, Rye, St Andrews and Gunnamatta. There is a very detailed guide to the entire walk (which is divided into suitably modest sections) at https://www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/PlacesToGo/Walks/AllWalks/tabid/399/View/5b109e2ba142139e1593d118/The-Coastal-Walk/Default.aspx.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Boonwurung Aboriginal people.
* in 1798 George Bass discovered Bass Strait and named Western Port.
* In 1803 Lieutenant James Murray undertook a 25-day exploration of Port Phillip Bay in the Lady Nelson achieved an unusual historic first. At Point King they raised the newly-created Union Jack.
* Murray was quickly followed by Matthew Flinders who mistook Port Phillip Bay for Westernport and only discovered his mistake after climbing Arthurs Seat which was 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.
* Squatters began to move into the Mornington Peninsula in the 1830s and Henry Tuck settled in the immediate district in the mid-1840s.
* James Smith took up land now occupied by the Flinders Golf Course in the late 1840s.
* Fishermen were working on the foreshore of West Head (originally known as Black Head) by the 1850s. A village of fishermen's huts later emerged on the foreshore.
* During the goldrush of the 1850s Chinese immigrants disembarked at Flinders to avoid paying the £10 immigration tax levied at official ports.
* In 1856 110 Chinese were living on Flinders Beach, approximately where the yacht club is now situated. They fished and established market gardens.
* Post office services commenced in 1863.
* A pier was constructed in 1864-65 which was used by local producers of bacon, dairy products and railway sleepers to send to the Melbourne markets. It was 350 feet long.
* A school was established in 1865.
* The first town allotments went on sale in 1866 and a general store was established on the first block to be sold.
* Church services commenced in the school in 1867. A village of fishermen's huts later emerged on the foreshore.
* In 1869, Flinders became the site of a telegraph station which connected Tasmania and the mainland via an underwater cable.
* By the 1880s Flinders began to promote itself as a health and recreation resort and guesthouses started to be built.
* The Flinders Hotel was opened in 1890.
* An Anglican Church was built in 1892.
* By 1910 there were seven guest houses in Flinders.
* A race course was opened in 1902.
* In 1903 a golf course was established near the town.
* The former jetty cargo shed dates from the 1920s.
* The Presbyterian Church was built in 1936.
* By 1951 local school children were commuting to Red Hill.
* The breakwater was added in 1953 with extensions in 1962.
* The jetty was reconstructed in the early 1970s and renovated in the 1990s.
* The Flinders Yacht Club was established in 1983.
* In the 2011 census 65% of the houses in the town were unoccupied.^ TOP
Mornington Peninsula Visitor Information Centre, 359B Point Nepean Road, tel: (03) 5950 1579, open 10.00 am - 4.00 pm seven days.^ TOP
There is a useful website. Check out https://www.visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Mornington-Peninsula/Destinations/Flinders-and-Cape-Schanck.^ TOP