I’ve been to the Mornington Peninsula more times than I can count, but never on my own. I spent Saturday driving between farms and factories for my Fibershed project. Sunday was mine to fill how I wished.
Planting the seed
I started off with breakfast at the Red Hill General Store. The General Store is perfect for a simple toasted breakfast and a hot drink. It’s got a good reputation in the area, so I was surprised to see it so quiet. The proprietor told me only the locals come here, tourists visit fancier places. I sat at a window seat and pretended to be a local. I didn’t do a good job, flicking through tourist brochures while eating my breakfast.
It was tempting to head to the Peninsula hot springs, but I didn’t have a booking. A brief mention of an indigenous garden at Arthur’s Seat State Park caught my eye. Then I found an advert that sealed the deal. Nearby in Dromana there was heritage home called Heronswood. It’s home to the Diggers club, a heritage seed company I admire. A day of gardens it would be!
There’s a lot of signage around Arthurs Seat State Park. Some of it is super interesting, like information about a Two Bays walking track. I’d like to come back and do that as a multi day walk some time. Some of the signage is just confusing though. Here’s my adaption of the Parks Victoria walking map:
I can’t be sure I walked this exact route, but it should give you an ok idea of what’s around. I started by following signs to the Northern Lookout. I found the original gardens planted by Sir Thomas and Lady Travers. They owned this property in the 1940s.
The original garden wall is still in place, with a few sculptures set in it by William Ricketts.
This wasn’t far from the Northern Lookout. There are usually views of the bay, Melbourne city and sometimes Mount Macedon. The view today was misty and rain sodden, so I couldn’t see many landmarks. Instead I got to see a rain shower move over the bay towards Melbourne. There were subtle changes in the air and water colour as the front moved along. It felt special to have stopped for a minute and watched such a commonplace event.
I was tickled to read that the original owner of this property used to work at Heronswood! He would walk down to Dromana each day to work on their gardens. There were more funny coincidences further on the track at the Matthew Flinders Cairn. I was at this spot one date earlier, 213 years after Flinders had used this hill as a lookout.
The track climbed uphill to cross Arthurs Seat Rd. The walking track crosses the road twice. I turned left before the second crossing to check out the Summit lookout. The view here wasn’t as good as the Northern Lookout. I found the amusing ‘Arthurs Seat’ and a fantastic collection of information boards. They introduced me to the traditional owners, local plants and their uses.
The Mornington Peninsula belongs to the Burrinyung-bulluk clan, members of the Boonurong clan. They call Arthurs Seat Wonga, after the Wonga pigeon that used to nest here. The mountain is a source of energy and can give strength during times of fatigue. Seawinds is known as Mirram Mirram. It was the main campsite where others were welcomed onto Boonurong land.
I took a track east of Purves Road which was pretty enough, but ended in a car park. If I were to walk this again I’d retrace my steps and find the track on the west side. I think that leads through the Seawinds indigenous gardens. Lucky for me, a lot of the plants in these gardens are labelled. I took lots of photos and notes for future study.
It was a curvy, slow drive down the hill to arrive at Heronswood in Dromana. The gothic bluestone homestead reminded me of Art and Crafts mansions I’ve seen in the Lakes District in England.
I spent most of my time exploring the different ‘rooms’ of the gardens. There are display beds as well as experimental sections.
Of course I enjoyed the herb garden. There were signs with each plant describing its benefits and uses. There is also a 20 square metre plot that promises to grow a year’s supply of vegies and fruit for two people. So many varieties of espaliered fruit!
I was pretty hungry by this stage so I drove down to the Dromana foreshore with my packed lunch. There were rain showers around and it was getting chilly but I wasn’t ready to drive home yet. I walked up to the Dromana pier, past all the brightly coloured bathing boxes. I found yet more information panels talking about the history of Dromana, the pier and the nearby RSL (I’m such a sucker for information panels!). It seems so familiar yet different to today: hoards of day trippers catching the ferry from Melbourne for a swim at the beach. Too cold for a swim today, but I had really enjoyed my weekend on the ‘Pen’ 🙂