Point Nepean Historic Highlights

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Point Nepean Historic Highlights

Point Nepean National Park

Point Nepean is one of Victoria's most unique heritage sites, boasting a fascinating collection of historic buildings and structures located in dramatic coastal scenery. Explore Fort Nepean and the Quarantine Station on foot or on bicycle (BYO or available for hire in the park) - and enjoy a picnic overlooking Port Phillip. This is a fantastic day trip near Melbourne.

There's so much to see and do at Point Nepean National Park. A walk from the Quarantine Station to Fort Nepean, along Coles Track with stops at Observatory Point and Gunners Cottage, will uncover many of the historical highlights of this unique place. 

Get off the beaten track by taking the 1.8km Range Area Walk which meanders through coastal scrub, a former Rifle Range and passes Monash Break and Light.  The walk links to the Quarantine Station and Cheviot Hill. This area was used for military training by the Army from 1952 when they came to Point Nepean as the Officer Cadet School. Referred to as the Defence Reserve, many forms of training took place which included mostly firing of live arms, infantry weapons, utilising rockets and rifles. Parks Victoria and the Department of Defence completed a program to progressively clear much of this area which has allowed for the opening of the Range Area Walk. Visitors can take the stairs to a viewing platform halfway up the Monash Light tower and take in the sweeping views of the national park, the bay and ocean, and city skyline.

Point Nepean is also the site where former Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach without a trace in December 1967. Just 500m west of Cheviot Hill, deviate 30m off Defence Road to arrive at viewing platform overlooking Cheviot Beach. A memorial granite plinth on the approach to the viewing platform honours the legacy of this tragedy. Access to Cheviot Beach is not permitted for safety and conservation reasons.

 

Things to do in the area

Aboriginal history
Point Nepean is the traditional Country of the Bunurong People who have lived on and around this important cultural place for over 35,000 years. The coastline has been an important source of shellfish and other foods and extensive shell middens are reminders of the enduring association that Traditional Owners have with this area.

European arrival
Point Nepean has evidence of some of the earliest European settlement in Victoria, including pastoral activities and lime burning. Shepherd’s Hut, located in the Quarantine Station, is one of the earliest intact limestone buildings in Victoria. Its cellar dates to 1845.

Quarantine 
Established in 1852, the Quarantine Station was the major place for quarantine purposes in Victoria until 1979 and was closed in 1980. Animals were also quarantined here and you can see the remains of the jetty built for this purpose in 1878 at nearby Observatory Point. The beach here is a beautiful spot for a picnic. 

The walk to Observatory Point is 2km / 30 minute along Coles Track from the Quarantine Station. While you're there, take the Walter Pisterman Walk inland to nearby Gunners Cottage and Point Nepean Cemetery, where those who died in quarantine are buried. If you're on a bicycle you can continue along Coles Track to Gunners Cottage. 

Defence
The entrance to Port Phillip was once the most heavily fortified port in the Southern Hemisphere. There are many Colonial and Commonwealth structures from the 1880s–1940s located around the park. Fort Nepean is considered to be one of the best examples in Australia of a major fort complex exhibiting the changes in military engineering over the 19th and 20th centuries.

The walk from Gunners Cottage to Fort Nepean is approximately 3km or 45 minutes. On the way, you can explore the remains of Fort Pearce, Pearce Barracks and Eagles Nest. Fort Pearce was established in 1911 and designed to take advantage of the six-inch Mark VII guns being introduced to coastal defence at that time. The Pearce Barracks site is where many of the army personnel stationed at Point Nepean lived. Eagles Nest was the site of Australia’s largest 'Disappearing Gun'.

National Park

After World War II, soldiers were removed from the forts and the buildings and fortifications declared redundant. The area remained closed to the public and was used as an occasional firing range and training ground until 1988 when, as part of the Bicentennial celebrations, control of the site was transferred to Victoria, declared a national park and opened to the public. The Quarantine Station became part of the national park in 2009.
A view of the bunker and canons overlooking Bass Straight at Fort Nepean.

Fort Nepean

Fort Nepean is one of the fortifications that protected Melbourne during World War I and II. Located at the very tip of the Mornington Peninsula, where the calm waters of Port Phillip meet the wild waves of the Southern Ocean, explore the extensive tunnel complex which connects the historic gun emplacements.

Quarantine Station

Point Nepean Quarantine Station offers a glimpse into the early European history of Victoria. Established in 1852, explore nearly 50 heritage-listed buildings. Learn about life at this once-remote location and the station's critical role in protecting Australia from introduced diseases.
South Channel Fort in Port Philip part of the Point Nepean National Park.

South Channel Fort

The South Channel Fort is a reminder of Port Phillip Bay's early history as part of the defence lines for Melbourne. The artificial island was constructed in the 1880s to illuminate the channel at night and electronically explode mines under attacking ships coming through the Heads.

How to get there

Point Nepean Historic Highlights

Start your tour of Point Nepean at the Quarantine Station carpark. Alternatively, you can park at Gunners Cottage for a slightly shorter walk to Fort Nepean and Observatory Point. 

Need to know

Point Nepean Historic Highlights

Change of Conditions

Nature being nature, sometimes conditions can change at short notice. It’s a good idea to check this page ahead of your visit for any updates.

  • Point Nepean National Park

    COVID-19 closures at Point Nepean

     
    In response to advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer about COVID-19, Parks Victoria has closed the following areas at Point Nepean National Park until further notice: Fort Nepean, including underground tunnels (no access beyond Fort Pearce). For more information, please visit www.parks.vic.gov.au/covid19

  • Point Nepean Quarantine Station (Point Nepean National Park)

    Disinfecting Complex and Quarantine Station Buildings closed

    The Disinfecting Complex (Boiler House and Foul Luggage Store) is closed until mid September due to building conservation works.   In response to advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer about COVID-19, the following buildings within the Quarantine Station are closed until further notice: Information Centre, Hospital 3, Cook House and Shepherds Hut.

  • Notices Affecting Multiple Sites

    Shuttle Bus service suspended

    The Point Nepean Shuttle Bus service is suspended until further notice.

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