Important commercial centre and naval base on Western Port
Hastings is the principal industrial area of the Mornington Peninsula. It is a popular tourist destination with a pleasant waterfront foreshore area with mangroves, grassy areas and sections of native bushland alive with bird life. It also has a large and modern boat harbour - the Western Port Marina. There are swimming and surf beaches nearby. To the north of the town is a Marine National Park which is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The local mudflats are known for their impressive mangrove forests which are reputedly the most southerly species of mangrove in the world.
Hastings is located 73 km south of Melbourne on the western shore of Western Port.^ TOP
Origin of Name
The first European settlement was known as King's Creek. It was renamed c.1860. No one is sure whether it took its name from Warren Hastings, the Governor-General of India, or from the sea port of Hastings in Sussex.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Hastings-Western Port Historical Society Museum
Located at the corner of Marine Parade and Skinner Street and open Sundays from 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm and Wednesdays 10.00 am to noon, the Museum occupies a small, weatherboard pioneer cottage which dates from around 1900 and is surrounded by distinctive gardens - a fairy garden on the north side; a Remembrance Garden of Peace with pink roses and apple blossom in the spring; a back garden of old-fashioned flowers, including hellebores, violets, jonquils, iris and other fascinating plants including a lucerne tree and camellias; and the Rose Garden of Harry's House which has perfumed yellow 'Friesia' roses. The museum contains displays of local memorabilia and, most significantly, a restored 1864 Armstrong gun and a fully restored square sterner fishing boat, the Johanna. For more information check out https://www.hwphs.org.au/index.html.
At the Jetty Precinct (opposite the Pelican Park Recreation Centre) there is a map of nine places of historic interest which goes back to Marine Parade, along to High Street, down Salmon Street and then along Herring Street. It is a short and easy walk and each place has a plaque with an historic photograph and information about the location.
Here is a typical placard:
1. The Jetty Precinct
By the time the jetty was built here at "Star Point" in 1864, there were over 40 fishermen operating in this part of the Bay. The earliest fishermen had moored their boats in the tidal reaches of Kings Creek to the north. Amongst them were the Wren brothers who lived in a hut near today's football ground. They were kept busy carting their fish along the muddy track to Frankston and beyond. When people returned to Melbourne from the goldfields, a huge demand for food was created and the fish and oysters of Western Port Bay were very popular. The new jetty became the focus of activity and a fish shed was built in 1866 to handle the produce. At its peak the jetty area was a mixture of sights and sounds as the fishermen went about landing their catch and mending their nets. They were a hardy lot - mostly foreign born from England, Scotland, Wales and Sicily. By 1870 the area had two hotels, a general store, post office and the beginnings of a town known as "Hastings".
Western Port Marina
A primary attraction is the Western Port foreshore and the marina complex which is located off Mullet Street. It is a substantial marina offering a quality restaurant with fresh seafood and a range of fishing trips, cruises and boat hire services. Part of the appeal, apart from the simple enjoyment of the marina, is that it is adjacent to the excellent Warringine Park with its mangrove shores and views across to French Island and the diminutive Sandstone Island.
Located on Skinner Street, the historic Hastings Pier is a popular spot for fishing and boating activities. Anglers can expect to catch King George whiting, Australian salmon, silver trevally and flathead. It is also the location of the town's Visitor Information Centre.
Warringine Park and Jacks Beach
Starting at the car park in Salmon Street, Hastings, this is a 3.6 km boardwalk (it takes around 45 minutes one way) through Warringine Park which was established as a conservation park in 1994 and taken over by the Mornington Peninsula Shire in 2006. The park has been divided into wetland, creek, woodland and coastal and the elevated board walk passes across coastal wetlands, salt marshes and vegetation communities including coastal heathlands, paperbark scrub, mangroves and open woodland. It is excellent for bird watching with over 110 species being sighted including the Great Egret and Lewin's Rail. There is an excellent overview at https://www.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Activities/Parks-Reserves/Parks-Recreation/Warringine-Park.
The path eventually reaches Jacks Beach Reserve where, looking south-east, it is possible to see the decommissioned HMAS Otama submarine off the beach. The history of how the sub ended up at Hastings is fascinating. Check out Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Otama. There is a very good description of Jacks Beach (with a history of the Jack family) and some informative photos. Check out http://www.discovermorningtonpeninsula.com.au/fascinatingfacts/jacks-tanning-pit.php.
John Coleman Statue
Located in front of the library on the corner of Salmon and High Streets, is the dramatic and impressive sculpture of John Coleman (1928-1973) who was born in Port Fairy, moved to Hastings and became a legendary goal kicker after moving to Essendon in 1949. Each year the Coleman Medal is given to the AFL's greatest goal kicker. The inscription on the sculpture explains: "The statue, created by figurative sculptor Steve Glassborow, was based on a mark taken by John Coleman over his Fitzroy opponent Tom Meehan in a match during the 1953 season. It captures that aspect of Australian Rules Football which makes it different from, and better than, other codes. At a special ceremony held on 22 September, 2005 John Coleman`s daughter, Jenny Goullet, and his brother Albert formally presented the statue to the Hastings community ... The opening round in 1949 saw Coleman kick 12 goals for Essendon against Hawthorn. This was the beginning of a brilliant career which was terminated by a serious knee injury in 1954. Some years later Coleman returned to coach Essendon to two premierships in 1962 and 1965. Illness forced him to relinquish his position and he died at the early age of 44 years on 5 April 1973. As the turn of the century drew to a close, John Coleman was named full forward in the AFL Team of the Century and he was also chosen as one of the 10 greatest in the AFL Hall of Fame." Check out http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/sport/display/31552-john-coleman for more details.
Other Attractions in the Area
Stony Point and Ferries
Located 10 km south of Hastings, beyond Crib Point is the Stony Point Ferry Terminal which is the only public access to French Island. Stony Point is a small fishing village which emerged in the 1860s as a port and later became a commercial crayfishing spot and the principal point of departure for Phillip Island. Stony Point has a popular pier and impressive views across Western Port to French Island.
Stony Point access to French Island
There is only one way the general public can access French Island. A ferry service operates on a circular route which starts at Stony Point, takes 15 minutes to cross to Tankerton on French Island, then takes another 15 minutes to cross from French Island to Cowes on Philip Island and then 30 minutes to cross from Cowes to Stony Point. There is also a regular service which crosses to Tankerton on French Island and then returns to Stony Point. During the week there are eight journeys each day and during the weekends there are seven services. The up-to-date information is available at http://westernportferries.com.au/timetable. Or tel: (03) 5257 4565.
Three important points: (a) the ferries are not all weather and will not run if the weather and sea conditions are not suitable (b) cars are not allowed on the ferry. This means the only vehicles on the island are ones owned by the Parks Victoria rangers and the local residents. (c) there are coach tours and the island is ideal for cycling (you can bring your own or rent one). The other mode of transport is walking.
Victorian Maritime Centre
Located at 220 The Esplanade, Crib Point (it is 6 km south of Hastings), and open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm, the Victorian Maritime Centre is housed in the Crib Point Terminal Building. In 2020 it was still a work in progress with the long term aim being access to HMAS Otama (which currently lies off the coast and can be seen by taking a short walk through the coastal bushland to the HMAS Otama Lookout) the Port Phillip Pilot Ship Wyuna as well as extensive displays in a Maritime Museum which features exhibits relating to the Royal Australian Navy, Australia at War, Service and Merchant flags. For more detailed information check out http://www.maritimecentre.com.au.
Museum of HMAS Cerberus
Located 11 km south of Hastings, HMAS Cerberus, covering 1517 ha of land and 1600 ha of water, is Australia's largest military training establishment and naval base. Over 6000 personnel are trained each year and the base typically has about 800 trainees aboard at any one time. The base was named after the naval vessel HMVS Cerberus which was part of Port Phillip's armoury from 1871 to 1924. The base was purchased in 1911 and named HMAS Cerberus in 1921. The base contains a museum - Museum of HMAS Cerberus - with memorabilia relating to the base, to the history of the Royal Australian Navy (particularly the Victorian and Colonial navies) and to the Navy in Vietnam. There are uniforms, medals, paintings and other items dating back to colonial times. The museum is open to the public from 9.30 am to 2.00 pm Monday to Friday. Tel: (03) 5931 5678 or check out http://www.navy.gov.au/history/museums/museum-hmas-cerberus which explains access to the museum as "Coming from Hastings on the Frankston Flinders Road, drive through Bittern, turn left down Disney Street, turn right at first roundabout South Beach Road. Take the next left at the HMAS Cerberus gates where you will then be required to show photo identification at the Access Control Point. All visitors are to be escorted to the museum."
Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
Located 13 km north of Hastings near Pearcedale, the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park is open from 10.00 am - 5.00 pm daily and has over sixty Australian species which allows visitors, during the daylight hours, to "feed kangaroos and wallabies, pet friendly koalas and enjoy encounters with colourful birds, reptiles, dingoes and many other animals including endangered species." As the name suggests they conduct 90-120 minute evening walks with a trained guide, these tours offer the opportunity to see native nocturnal animals in a natural setting. The animals include bettongs, dunnarts, quolls, pademelons, potoroos and feathertail gliders. Bookings for the evening tours are essential. Tel: (03) 5978 7935 or check out https://moonlitsanctuary.com.au/night-tours.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Boon Wurrung Bunurong Aboriginal people.
* Western Port was explored by George Bass and Matthew Flinders as early as 1798.
* In 1801 Lieutenant James Grant made the first-known east-bound passage through Bass Strait.
* Nicolas Baudin explored Western Port in April, 1802.
* An attempt was made to establish a British colony on the Mornington Peninsula in 1803 but it was short lived.
* In 1826 a French vessel, the Astrolabe under Dumont d'Urville, examined Western Port, arousing fears of French colonisation.
* Governor Darling decided to forestall any prospective French plans by establishing a military and agricultural settlement at Western Port.
* Hovell's exploration revealed that Western Port was unsuitable for agriculture, owing to poor soil, lack of fresh water.
* In 1845 Mrs Martha King took up Bunguyan - a pastoral run in the Hastings district. The homestead was at Tyabb.
* There was a natural deepwater harbour which from the 1850s became a base for Western Port anglers.
* Hastings was initially known as King's Creek. It was renamed Hastings in c.1860s.
* A post office opened in 1863.
* The first jetty was built in the area in 1865.
* By 1868 a school had been opened at Old Tyabb.
* In 1889 a railway was opened which passed through Hastings.
* In 1890 a voluntary defence force was formed in the town.
* By 1903 the town had a population of 388.
* A potential major harbour was identified by a Royal Commission in 1928.
* In 1933 Hastings benefited from the establishment of the naval base HMAS Cerberus at nearby Crib Point.
* In the 1960s the traffic in bulk cargo ships and oil tankers saw the opening up of Western Port as a second port to Melbourne.
* Hastings Shire was formed in 1960 when it was separated from Frankston Shire.
* An oil refinery and jetty were built at Crib Point in 1966.
* An oil spill occurred in 1966.
* Esso-BHP developed a petroleum complex at Long Island Point in the late 1960s to process oil extracted from Bass Strait.
* An integrated iron and steel plant was developed by Lysaght Steel in 1972.
* In 1971 the Save Western Port Coalition published The Shame of Western Port: speculator's dream ... environmental nightmare.
* Western Port Secondary College opened in 1974.
* From the 1980s the tourism potential of the area was developed with the construction of the multi-million dollar marina and resort and the beautification of the foreshore area.
* The Hastings Shire was amalgamated to form the Shire of Mornington Peninsula in 1994.
* In 2004 Hastings won the Victorian Tidy Towns Award.
* A major shipping container terminal was planned by the Port of Hastings Development Authority and announced in 2012.
* A major fire occurred in Jacks Beach Reserve in January, 2015.^ TOP
Western Port Tourist and Visitor Information Centre, 2 Marine Parade, tel: (03) 5909 8409, Open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm Monday to Friday, 9.00 am - 4.00 pm on Saturday and 10.00 am - 3.00 pm on Sunday.^ TOP
There is an official website. Check out https://www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/PlacesToGo/TownsVillages/Hastings.aspx.^ TOP