Mount Martha is a seaside town, 60 kilometres south-east of Melbourne’s central business district, on the Mornington Peninsula. It has an area of 17.2 square kilometres. Population in 2011 was 17,087 and the 2016 forecast was 18,854.
MOUNT MARHTA FACTS
Mount Martha is situated between Mornington and Safety Beach on the Mornington Peninsula, fronting Port Phillip Bay.
While Mount Martha offers only a small commercial centre in Lochiel Avenue, it is an ideal destination for those visitors seeking a scenic and less commercial holiday location where the surrounding bushland meets the coast.
Safe swimming beaches with wide sandy stretches exist just north and south of the commercial centre, lined with rows of colourful bathing boxes. However, much of the coast around Mount Martha typically consists of rocky cliffs with bushland up above, offering a number of walking tracks and scenic viewing spots. A worthwhile drive is along the Esplanade – a coastal road linking Mount Martha with Mornington in the north and Safety Beach in the south. This hilly and winding road hugs the steep coastline, with views down to the bay on one side, while exclusive homes perched high above the coast feature on the other side.
Other attractions in Mount Martha include Balcombe Creek, which swells into a wide body of water near the coast and is surrounded by a boardwalk and is home to a rich selection of bird life. Also of interest to nature lovers is Mount Martha Park which consists of 53 hectares of native bushland and walking trails surrounding the 160 metre peak of Mount Martha, offering panoramic views of the bay and towards Arthurs Seat.
The Briars Park is an historic property in Mount Martha that includes the graceful Briars Homestead which was built in stages commencing in 1848 and is open for public tours. The park also includes a visitor’s centre, vineyard, nursery, restaurant, and a large wildlife reserve featuring wetlands and bird observation hides. There are number of walking trails through the wetlands, woodlands and pastures.
Local waterways are Balcombe Creek, Devilbend Creek, Hearn Creek, Port Phillip, and Tuerong Creek.
Median house price to buy is $931,000 and to rent is $500 per week.
With the declaration of World War 2 in 1939, the Australian Army decided to use the Balcombe Estuary area at Mount Martha as a training ground. In 1940 the army’s 4th Division took over the area and, including trainees, numbered about 3000 personnel. Late in 1940 the Commonwealth Government purchased 209 acres from the Graves, Ostberg and Henty Families to establish a permanent camp.
Mount Martha’s highest point bears the area’s name and reaches 160 metres (520 ft). The peak was named after Martha Lonsdale, the wife of the colonist William Lonsdale. It marks the start of the Selwyn Fault, a geological formation which runs to the eastern Dandenong Ranges.
From the 1990s to present the Mount Martha area has experienced significant population growth particularly in the south with the Martha’s Cove marina development as well as east towards the Moorooduc Highway.
Peninsula Link and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway are both major arterial routes to both Mount Martha and the Mornington Peninsula, from Melbourne via the EastLink tollway.
The Mount Martha murder in 1953 of Shirley Collins saw an investigation that was said to be one of the biggest and most intensive manhunts in the history of Australian crime. However the 15 year old’s death remains a mystery even today.
Fresh brewed coffee is a must have for weekends away and Mount Martha is a must visit destination with great coffee haunts around the town. Here are a few to check out when head down to this beautiful seaside township.
Shop 4, 42 Lochiel Avenue
Located upstairs on the corner this groovy relaxed café/restaurant serves great coffee while you look out over the bay.
26 Lochiel Ave
Small bright café on the main shopping strip with inside and alfresco dining. Baristas make coffee in front of the bifold windows.
3 Bay Road
Great café for coffee and breakfast with plenty of seating and extensive menu.
Consistently good coffee and great food to match. Casual and cool vibe.
WHAT TO DO?
Whether it’s enjoying the white sandy beaches or browsing the many wonderful boutique shops along the strip, you will always find something to do in Mount Martha. Relax on the upstairs balcony at Mr Curtis as you look over the 180 degree vista of the bay, or enjoy a great coffee at Via Battisti or one of the many coffee shops along the boulevard before strolling along the boardwalk of the Balcombe estuary reserve.