Continental bonds

By Lilian Bernhardt Photos Supplied

Two Sorrento venues are teaming up in a two-year partnership, which honours their local and shared history dating back to the 1800s.

The Sorrento Regatta is an annual sailing race held in the waters around the Sorrento pier over Easter weekend. The event first began in 1892, remaining popular for 22 years before the outbreak of World War I led to a century-long interval.

One of the earliest sponsors of the event was the Continental Sorrento, who have again signed up to sponsor the event hosts, the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club, securing naming rights of the event.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Continental; the Conti’s rich history in the township of Sorrento, together with our Couta Boat history, dating back over 100 years, fit perfectly together,” said SSCBC Commodore Georgie Silverwood.

The Sorrento Regatta resumed in 2017, and Silverwood said the club and race pay tribute to all the sailors and supporters that served and supported the war efforts leading to the events interval.

The event attracts hundreds of sailors and families who are members of the club, and in addition to the races hosts a charity lunch “Catch A Fish” to raise money for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. There is also junior sailing, live music and food, and an Easter swim and Easter egg hunt for kids.

Beyond the event, maintaining a strong relationship with the local Sorrento community is vital to the club. They run a Community Engagement Program offering off and on water programs to local schools and organisations. This includes giving students attending the Portsea Camp the chance to witness dolphins and seals.

“From our Mornington Peninsula schools to providing a boating experience for some of the students from the Melbourne Indigenous Transition school, some of whom have never been on a boat before, our members, staff and volunteers love to be involved in our community program,” Silverwood said.

Co-owner and operator of the Continental’s food and beverage experiences, Craig Shearer, said the partnership felt like a natural move due to both venues long histories in Sorrento and he is looking forward to supporting the club.

“We feel that, in general, the local hotel or pub should be an intrinsic part of the community and supporting local groups is extremely important for us to assist however we can,” he said.

The partnership aligns perfectly with the re-opening of the Continental Sorrento, which has undergone a major transition of ownership and a $120 million-dollar re-development over a four-year hiatus. The redeveloped pub is now a five-story lifestyle precinct, with a luxury hotel and bathhouse set to open in April.

Publican Craig Shearer has paired with the renowned Melbourne restaurateur/chef Scott Pickett to manage the venue’s food and beverage outlets. Each one has over two decades of industry experience behind him. The pair shared familiarity and admiration for the previous Continental due to experiences holidaying the Peninsula.

“When the opportunity came up to be part of the Continental’s rebirth, I thought a partnership between us could do the precinct more justice than either of us on our own, so we’ve combined our areas of expertise and hope to deliver something that really amazes people,” Shearer said.

Scott Pickett has curated the menu for the beer garden and public bars, serving pub classics such as fish and chips and chicken parmigiana in addition to Asian fusion dishes and his famous long-grain dishes.

He will also be opening a fine-dining restaurant within the precinct, called Audrey’s, named after his grandmother. Pickett was inspired by her cooking style, which Shearer described as ‘simple food done really well’, with a menu emphasis on seafood.

In terms of renovation, it was important for the team to maintain the historical elements and significance of the building whilst allowing room for change and expansion.

“The Continental has stood proudly on the Constitution Hill since 1875. I think it’s one of the most striking and historically significant buildings in Australia and it was important for us to pay tribute to the proud history of the building,” Shearer said.

The limestone facade and walls of the building were restored to their original state, and original timbers within the flooring were recycled and reused in new parts of the venue.

Shearer said that during the relaunch, the pair have the intention to “provide a piece of luxury to everyone, regardless of who they are”.

“Whether it’s a cold glass of wine or beer in the Conti bar or refurbished public bar, a fine dining experience in Audrey’s, or enjoying one of Australia’s best cocktails in our cocktail bar named Barlo, there’s going to be something for everyone, and I encourage everyone to walk through the doors, say ‘Hi’ and see what we have been working so hard to deliver.” Shearer said.

The team is excited about their partnership with the SSCBC and serving all the sailors and attendees of the Sorrento Regatta event this upcoming Easter.

For more information on SSCBC and upcoming Sorrento sailing events, visit or follow @sscbc.
The Continental is located at 1-21 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento. For updates, follow on instagram: @thecontinentalsorrento

Peninsula Essence – March 2022