Only 50 minutes’ drive from Melbourne, Western Port is renowned for its maritime history, antiques and collectables. The area of Western Port is 682 km2.
WESTERN PORT FACTS
From history buffs to nature lovers, Western Port is nature at its best with eco sanctuaries, farm visits, extensive walking trails, horse trails and bike paths. If you’re water-bound, we have a coast that is renowned for its waves for the surfers and beautiful beaches perfect for a picnic at any time or to cool down in summer.
From Pearcedale to Cape Schanck, Western Port is a journey of discovery – small farm houses lie tucked in folds of rolling hills, while vines stretch across the landscape in ordered rows – the occasional glimpse of a rider in oilskins and hat adds to the sense that time somehow, has stood still. Along the route unique townships give visitors a chance of a different experience, the pace is a little slower and the hilly nature of the coastline means that the towns and villages are more rurally placed.
The Western Port region is the right side of the Mornington Peninsula, starting from Pearcedale and through to Cape Schanck. French Island is also a part of the region.
Western Port, commonly but unofficially known as Western Port Bay, is a large tidal bay in southern Victoria, Australia, opening into Bass Strait.
It is the second largest bay in the state. Geographically, it is dominated by the two large islands; French Island and Phillip Island.
Contrary to its name, it lies to the east of the larger Port Phillip, and is separated from it by the Mornington Peninsula.
It is visited by Australian fur seals, whales and dolphins, as well as many migratory waders and seabirds. It is listed under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international significance.
The area around the bay and the two main islands were originally part of the Boonwurrung nation’s territory prior to European settlement.
Western Port was first seen by Europeans in 1798 when an exploration crew in a whaleboat led by George Bass, journeyed south from Sydney to explore Australia’s south eastern coastline.
The bay is home to the three Marine National Parks—French Island, Churchill Island and Yaringa, while the land adjacent to the north is largely used for farming purposes including cattle and wineries.
Today the bay is mostly used for recreation; however, there is also a naval base (HMAS Cerberus), shipping and oil production facilities adjoining the bay.
Western Port is around one hour from Melbourne by car and a small number of holiday villages with sandy swimming beaches lie on its shores.
Prior to European settlement, the Bunurong people lived around Western Port living off shellfish, mutton birds and plant life.
The waters of Western Port cover an area of 680 km² of which 270 km² are exposed as mud flats at low tide.
The topography of Western Port is dominated by two large islands: French Island and Phillip Island.
The coastline, including that of the islands, is some 263 km.
The bay and its islands are criss-crossed by seven seismically active fault lines and experience numerous minor earthquakes every year.
In recent years, numbers of whale sightings (mostly southern right and humpback) have increased, and local institutes conduct researches of their presences in the bay along within vicinity to the bay and Port Phillip Bay, asking public to report sightings.
Fishing, pleasure boating and yachting are some of the popular pastimes on the bay.
The town of Hastings is the main boat landing in the bay with the Yaringa Marina at Somerville also offering boat harbour facilities.
Western Port has several industrial complexes, including a BlueScope Steel – steel processing works and the major Royal Australian Navy training base, HMAS Cerberus. Holden Australia’s proving ground is located just east of Western Port.
Development plans for the Port at Hastings would see it become the major shipping port for container and bulk freight in and out of Victoria.
Fresh brewed coffee is a must have for weekends away. Here are a few great coffee haunts to check out when head down to this beautiful township.
55 High Street, Hastings
Fantastic food, friendly staff and lovely relaxed atmosphere
LELLEYS COFFEE HOUSE
24 High Street, Hastings
Great coffee and excellent service with alfresco and indoor areas with diverse menu
28 Victoria Street, Hastings
Old fashioned café with great service and even better coffee
Lot 17 Mullett Street, Hastings
Awesome café with a good selection of food and extra good coffee
WHAT TO DO?
There’s always something to do on the Westernport side of the peninsula, with its calm waters for fishing and boating, or drives through the hills of Flinders. Head down to the cafes on the water in Hastings and enjoy watching the boats in the marina, or check out the small town feel of the village shops in Tyabb. The antique capital of Australia, there’s something for every collector in Tyabb and surrounding areas while the airfield is home to vintage and new planes.
First published in Peninsula Essence – January 2018