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The Mornington Peninsula is the perfect place to escape for a day trip from Melbourne, a weekend getaway or a family outing. With beautiful beaches, fun towns and attractions, amazing wineries and breweries as well as stunning scenery and walks. Mornington Peninsula, Victoria is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.
With so much natural beauty, you can easily keep your trip on a budget with these amazing Mornington Peninsula activities in the great Aussie outdoors! The best part is that these are all free things to do in Mornington Peninsula, so check out the list below for some great outdoor walks, National Parks, rock pools and sights to enjoy for free!
11 Outdoor Mornington Peninsula activities that are all completely free!
1. Fort Nepean Walk, Point Nepean National Park
Point Nepean National Park is at the very south-western tip of the Mornington Peninsula and personally, my favourite area for Mornington Peninsula walks and views, with the added bonus of learning about the history of the area too. You could easily spend a Mornington Peninsula day trip just in this park, with so many different walks and historical sights to explore.
Park at Gunner’s Cottage and follow the main track to reach Fort Nepean. This walk is roughly 3km each way and should take just over an hour round trip, although allow some time to explore the old fort, historical information and old battlements when you reach the end. This walk is relatively easy as the walking track is a tarmacked road and mostly flat, so suitable for most walkers.
You can enjoy the incredible views on the walk down to the fort, with the Port Phillip Bay on one side and the Bass Strait on the other. Also look out for plenty of wildlife, including birds and a resident echidna at the fort itself!
2. Observatory Point, Point Nepean National Park
My second favourite spot in the Point Nepean National Park because it combines a short walk through the bush with an incredible and easy to reach white sandy beach. You can also park at Gunner’s Cottage to reach this beach and instead of taking the main track to the fort, take the sandy path on the right through the bush.
This is a great option if you’re not looking to do a walk quite as long as the walk to the fort. The path is flat and the walk is only 10-15 minutes although access to the beach at the end is sandy and uneven. Both times I’ve visited, at Christmas and in February, the beach has been extremely quiet with only a handful of other people. So if you’re looking for some beach time relaxation and don’t fancy the busy beaches further north on the Peninsula, this beach is for you!
You can find the location by searching for Observatory Point on Google Maps.
3. Millionaire’s Walk, Sorrento
If you like to gawk at huge houses and be a bit nosy (like me!) this is a super fun and easy walk. Between Sorrento and Portsea, the coast is lined with beachfront properties with incredible views, private docks and beautiful houses. There is a public footpath which runs along the bottom of the gardens of these houses, which you can walk along and enjoy the views in both directions!
Park your car along one of the side streets near Portsea (I park on Point King Road) then walk towards the beach access at the bottom and turn left or right to walk along the public footpath.
It’s only a short 20 minute walk each way, but with lovely views over the docks and beaches. Please remember to close any gates behind you that you pass through.
4. Sorrento Back Beach rock pools
Sorrento is a great base to stay at if your Mornington Peninsula trip is for a few days. As well as Millionaires Walk, there are plenty of other Sorrento walks to enjoy on the town's beaches.Sorrento Front Beach is easily accessed right by the main road and parking along here is free.
Sorrento back beach is accessed through the town and there’s a large free car park there. The beach here is much bigger and faces onto the Bass Strait so the waves are bigger, this is where you’ll find some surfers! There are also so amazing rockpool formations to each side of the beach which can be explored at low tide.
5. Walk along Rye Pier
For free things to do in Rye and Sorrento you can’t go wrong with a stroll down their respective piers. Whilst in Sorrento you’ll find small wooden jetties with room only for a few people, whereas the Rye Pier is much bigger and longer. With clear water which is relatively shallow and warm, the pier is great to spot marine wildlife from above and is also popular for swimming underneath to spot incredible fish and other marine animals.
If you’re looking for a calm, warm place to swim with plenty of fish to spot, Rye Pier is a great location to do that on the peninsula.
6. Cape Schanck Lighthouse
This picturesque lighthouse is worth visiting just to explore the viewpoints around it, or to take a longer walk down to Pulpit Rock on the wooden boardwalks. There is a large car park here with toilet facilities too but the car park can still get very busy in peak season, I would recommend going on a weekday or arriving early.
The lighthouse is 21 metres tall and was built in 1859 at this most-southerly point of Mornington Peninsula. You can visit the lighthouse museum if you like, but to keep your costs down, just wander around the lighthouse, see the beautiful views over the Bass Strait from the lookout behind the lighthouse.
I recommend taking the track down to the tip of Cape Schanck itself on the wooden boardwalk, see the incredible basalt cliffs and Pulpit Rock which can be seen from the black pebble beach. The walk is easy and on flat ground or wooden walkways, although there are steps down in various places.
When the tide is out, there are also several rock pools accessible along the Cape Schanck coastline when you follow the headland around from the black pebble beach.
7. Bushrangers Bay
Bushrangers Bay is a longer Mornington Peninsula walk which can be started from Cape Schanck and will take around 2 hours one way to reach Bushrangers Bay. You will find the Bay a lot quieter as much less people do this walk, despite the coastal path being beautiful with incredible rocky coves, blue water and the Bay itself incredibly rewarding to see.
Alternatively, if Cape Schanck Lighthouse car park is full, you can drive to the other end of the trail and park at the Bushrangers Bay Parking Area for free.
The walk is around 6km total and is easy-moderate to complete.
The coastal walk is part of the complete 26km trail which runs along the south coast of the peninsula.
8. Arthurs Seat Lookout
Arthurs Seat Eagle is a pretty pricey attraction, and while there’s no doubt that the views from the cable car/gondola are amazing, you can actually drive up to the same destination and see various viewpoints along the road up, without paying anything!
Take the Arthurs Seat Road (C789) past the cable car base station and follow the switch-backs up the hill. There are several viewpoints with small car parking areas for you to stop and the lookout point is just a few steps from the road.
Franklins Lookout, Murrays Lookout are both on the way up and the last lookout is Arthurs Seat Lookout at the Matthew Flinders Cairn - this stone monument is 2 minutes walk from the parking area on the side of the road and offers incredible panoramic views over the peninsula below.
You can also walk up the steps opposite the parking area to reach the Arthurs Seat Eagle summit where there’s toilet facilities, picnic and BBQ areas with plenty of parking.
9. Safety Beach
The west coast of the peninsula is full of beautiful beaches with white sand, turquoise waters which are mostly shallow and warm so great to swim in. Because this coast is on the Port Phillip Bay, the waters are also usually very calm, so great for those who might not be as confident in the water or are only looking for some paddling and not wanting to be battered by huge waves coming in!!
Safety Beach and the beaches around it are beautiful, with large sandy areas which are great to set up for a few hours of relaxation, a picnic, a romantic beach afternoon or a family day out with food and inflatables!
There are pretty, colourful beach huts and boat ramps dotted along the beaches which are pretty to photograph or swim from.
There are lots of car parks along this stretch too, some are paid for, But if you keep driving, there are also lots of sandy car park pull-ins which are free. There are also so many spots to stop that if somewhere is too busy, just keep driving until you find an emptier spot.
These beaches can be found on the main coast road between Rye and Mount Martha.
10. The Pillars, Mount Martha
After you’ve spent some time on the beaches, there is an area along the same coast near Mount Martha called The Pillars.
The Pillars are a rocky cliff area with sandy cliffs and blue waters which are great for cliff jumping and spotting marine wildlife, such as fish and stingrays! Parking around here can be difficult as there isn’t a designated car park, but there are parking spots along the road if you don’t mind a short walk to reach the Pillars.
This is also a great spot for sunset on the Mornington Peninsula before you head home for the night.
11. Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary
Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary is a nature reserve on the east coast of the Peninsula. It’s right by Flinders if you’re in this area, visiting the beautiful pier here or wanting to do any watersports.
The nature reserve itself is thriving with corals, rock pools and marine wildlife on the reef. It’s great for rockpooling or snorkelling and you can spend hours discovering the incredible diverse habitats in the rocky areas.
I hope these outdoor Mornington Peninsula activities help you plan your next trip to the peninsula and show you how many free things to do on the Mornington Peninsula there are!
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