Focus on Sorrento

Sorrento is located 91 km south-west of Melbourne, near the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula.

Sorrento has a population of 1,592 (2016 census), and an area of 7 square kilometres.

Sorrento is a popular tourist destination on the Mornington Peninsula, nestled between Portsea and Blairgowrie. It is situated on a thin strip of the Mornington Peninsula, facing Port Phillip in the north and the open waters of Bass Strait in the south.

Sorrento’s commercial centre is located at the bay end of Ocean Beach Road. This wide, attractive boulevard features a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes with its major landmark being the multi-storey Continental Hotel which was built out of limestone in 1875 and currently undergoing renovations.

The crescent-shaped Sorrento Front Beach is flanked by an attractive foreshore area with lawns, shelters and English trees, plus a couple of small jetties. The sheltered waters make it ideal for swimming and other water activities.

At the western end of Sorrento Front Beach is Policemans Point and the Sorrento Pier which is used by a passenger and car ferry which links Sorrento to Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula.

Sorrento was the site of Victoria’s first official European settlement which was established by Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins in 1803. A monument honouring this historic event has been erected at Eastern Sister which is located near the south-eastern end of Sorrento’s bay coastline. There is an elevated coastal walkway which leads to an information centre and several lookouts which provide scenic views across beach and bay.

At the north-western end of Sorrento’s bay coastline is Point King where Lieutenant Murray, on his exploration of Port Phillip in 1802, raised the Union Jack and claimed the land for the British. There is a monument to commemorate this event and a scenic coastal track from which splendid views along the coast in all directions can be enjoyed.

Sorrento Historic Park, located on Point Nepean Road overlooking the bay, is a lush oasis which was first established in 1870. It features European trees, colourful garden beds, extensive lawns, BBQ facilities, a rotunda, children’s playground and walking tracks. Scenic views of Policemans Point, the surrounding beaches and across the bay can be enjoyed from the park which extends to the cliff tops.

The main point of access to Sorrento’s ocean beach is from the southern end of Ocean Beach Road. The coastline here consists of stretches of sandy beach which back onto sand dunes and rocky cliffs.

Another scenic area to explore along the ocean coastline is Diamond Bay. Some spectacular views can be enjoyed of the coastline here with its many rocky outcrops and sandy beaches. It is protected by the Mornington Peninsula National Park where there are several walking tracks and stairways providing access to the beach below.

Australian singer Tina Arena released a song “Sorrento Moon (I Remember)” in 1995. The song is about Arena’s childhood memories of summers past with her family at Sorrento beach in Victoria, Australia.

Darbys Rock off the back beach was named after John Darbyshire who was marooned there during a king tide.

Dame Nellie Melba sang to raise funds for cemetery gates which rusted over time and were taken down and dumped at the tip from where they were souvenired and used as a garden ornament.

Federal Senator John Button, State MP Vince Heffernan, and Dame Zara (Holt) Bate are buried in the cemetery.

Hannie Rayson’s well-loved Hotel Sorrento, which premiered onstage in 1991 and was made into a feature film in 1995, explored some immediately identifiable terrain for many audiences when it first appeared.

Median property price for Sorrento is $1,380,000.

George Coppin ‘The Father of Sorrento’ led a colourful life including stints as an actor. G.S. Coppin was a prime mover in the development of Sorrento. His theatrical talents were considerable but as an entrepreneur he left an indelible mark on the seaside town. Coppin was not only involved in land sales, but also encouraged the development of paddle steamer links between Sorrento and the capital of Victoria and even a small steam train to transport visitors’ to the area from the Bay beach jetty to the Ocean Beach.

Coffee Safari

Freshly brewed coffee is a must-have for weekends away and the Mornington Peninsula’s coffee haunts are second to none. Here are just a few to check out when you head down to this beautiful part of the world.

The Boss’s Daughter

174 Ocean Beach Rd, Sorrento
In the heart of Sorrento, this lovely café offers a great coffee selection, all-day brekkie, all in laid-back surrounds with street side seating.

Smashing Sorrento

119-125 Ocean Beach Rd, Sorrento
Specialty coffee and tea with cold dripped coffee, freshly squeezed juices and unique brunch menu, all delivered by friendly, professional staff.

The Sisters Kitchen Garden Cafe

149-151 Ocean Beach Rd, Sorrento
Breakfast with outdoor and indoor seating in a cosy setting. Excellent choice for coffee, cake and light breakfast or brunch.

Rusty’s Cafe Bar & Grill

3293 Point Nepean Rd, Sorrento
Chilled and relaxed café with great coffee, breakfast options galore and a meal if you prefer.

What to do

Whether it’s strolling the artists trail, or along millionaires walk, swimming with the dolphins, checking out the historical sites or even doing a bit of ghost spotting, there is always something to do in Sorrento.

Discover the Sorrento back beach or take the ferry to Queenscliff, stroll along the Sorrento foreshore and pier and up to the gardens at Watt’s Cottage.

Try Sorrento’s famous vanilla slice or head to one of the many restaurants along the main road in the town that brings together a mix of rich history, beach and lifestyle, as well as a hive of galleries at your fingertips.

Photography: Yanni


Peninsula Essence – September 2019