Focus on Rye

Rye is a seaside resort town, approximately 83 km south of Melbourne, on the Mornington Peninsula. Its bay beach is popular with swimmers, fishermen, yachtsmen and kite surfers. Rye has an area of 14.7 square kilometres. The population of Rye was 8, 416 in 2016.

The coastal town of Rye is situated on the popular holiday destination of the Mornington Peninsula, nestled between Rosebud and Blairgowrie.

Point Nepean Road is Rye’s main thoroughfare, running parallel to the town’s bay beach. The main concentration of shops is located east of Dundas Street and includes a hotel, eateries, a major supermarket and other retailers.

Rye’s main beach, fronting Port Phillip, offers safe sandy beaches, ideal for swimming and boating. There is a jetty, several boat ramps, and attractive foreshore facilities with picnic areas, shelters, playgrounds and walking tracks.

Around a kilometre west of the Rye Jetty is an outcrop of land called White Cliffs. At the base of the cliffs is a reconstructed old lime burners kiln – a reminder of the mid-1800s when the extraction of lime was the area’s primary industry. Scenic views along the coast can be enjoyed from  a lookout above the kiln.

Rye extends southwards across the narrow width of the Mornington Peninsula in this area, right down to the coastline fronting the open waters of Bass Strait. The Mornington Peninsula National Park spans the foreshore here, consisting of scenic walking tracks, rocky coastal features, dunes and pockets of sandy beach. A pathway and steps extend from Tasman Drive down to the sandy bay at Number 16 Beach.

If you enjoy snorkelling, you can hire gear locally and then head for the Octopus’ Garden at Rye Pier. This is a 200 metre underwater trail with signage introducing you to the underwater wildlife. 

Rye’s summer carnival is located beside the pier carpark. The town is extremely popular during vacation periods, and has a varied selection of eating establishments.

Rye also has an impressive ocean beach, where you can experience an exhilarating horse ride. There are magnificent walks along the clifftops that form part of the 25 kilometre Coastal Walk. 

The Cups Estate was created in 1999 and is the only winery in the Rye area. It takes its name from the early settler’s description of the natural ‘cups and saucers’ topography – the unique and undulating dunes that lend themselves to perfect winegrowing conditions and perfect golf.  

Rye was proclaimed a town on February 26, 1861 and is partly in the parish of Wannaeue but mainly in the parish of Nepean, which is west of Government Road and Weeroona Street. The township went south to the southern boundary of the cemetery, with its east and west boundaries being Weir Street and Dundas Street. 

In the early years of settlement, Rye was known for lime burning, wood cutting and fishing industries. The building of Melbourne was under way, and the lime burnt from stone kilns at Rye was transported by dray, then barge, onto small sailing vessels. The lime industry gave employment to wood cutters, quarry men and lime burners and a settlement soon developed. 

Rye had the natural bounty provided by the bay and ocean beaches. Fish were in great abundance and provided a living for some families. As well as putting food on the table for many others, the rocky edges at the ocean beaches were a rich source of crayfish, and the bay held a multitude of species. 

In the supplement to the illustrated Australian News, Melbourne, Saturday 18 December 1886, we read: “For those who wish to escape from the maddening crowd, the little seaside village of Rye appears a peaceful and soothing retreat.”

Rye median house price is $677,000.

Coffee Safari

Fresh brewed coffee is a must have for weekends away and the Mornington Peninsula is second to none with great coffee haunts around the towns. Here are just a few to check out when you head down to this beautiful part of the world.

Freaky Tiki

Shop 14, 2185 Point Nepean Road
Great coffee and fresh food in a warm friendly environment. Locally roasted coffee and a delicious menu.

Knock onWood Espresso

12 C Nelson Street
Great hidden cafe away from the strip with some of the best coffee in Rye. Friendly staff and a great selection of snacks.

Peninsula Pantry

43A Wondaree Street
Brekkie, light fare and homemade cakes in a cheerful cafe with communal tables, plus outdoor seats. Excellent coffee that is second to none and perfect with a slice or cake.

Rick’s on Rye Cafe

2293 Point Nepean Road
Enjoy Rick’s on Rye Cafe all day breakfast lunch and great coffee with great views from footpath dining, inside through wall to wall glass doors or out in their  tranquil undercover rear courtyard.

What to do

The bayside township of Rye has everything you could want right within walking distance. It has great cafes specialising in breakfast and lunches, fantastic restaurants, and beautiful sandy beaches ideal for swimming, boating and fishing.

The picturesque foreshore area is ideal for family picnics, and is home to the Rye Carnival and playground. 

Alternatively you can visit the ocean beach to enjoy some water sports among the waves.

World class golf courses are within a few minutes drive of the main township and the multi-award winning Peninsula Hot Springs is also nearby. 

Photography: Yanni

First published in Peninsula Essence – July 2019