Dromana

Situated at the foot of Arthurs Seat, a steep granite hill (305 metres above sea-level) which can be ascended by road or walking track, Dromana is a holiday resort and residential area, is that known for its beaches.

Location: 70 km south of Melbourne on the southern rim of Port Phillip Bay.

Dromana has a substantial shopping strip along Point Nepean Road. The foreshore area is well-maintained with picnic shelters, barbecues and play areas. Opposite is Dromana Beach which is shallow, sheltered and therefore ideal for families. There is a pier, a boat ramp, plenty of parking, a surf lifesaving club and boat-hire services. Outdoor markets are held on Sunday mornings on the main road and the Strawberry Festival is held in mid-January.

The Dromana Visitor Information Centre is located in Dromana Park on Point Nepean Rd, tel: (03) 5987 3078 and (1800) 804 009

Historical Society Museum: The Dromana and District Historical Society has a museum display in the old shire building which is opposite the information centre on Point Nepean Rd, tel: (03) 5987 2322.

Echidna Self-Drive Tour: a self-drive scenic tourist route which starts at the information centre and explores the rural hinterland around Red Hill. Just follow the echidna signs (a guiding pamphlet is available from the information centre).

Safety Beach: 4 km north-east of the centre of Dromana (along Point Nepean Rd) is Safety Beach. From the carpark, near the Safety Beach boat club, there is a walking track (2-km return) which passes over a shingle-strewn beach to the foot of the red cliffs.

Heronswood: located near the top of La Trobe Parade (at no.105), Heronswood is a very interesting historic home described by the National Trust as of national architectural importance, being an innovative and highly creative design  overlooking Port Phillip Bay. It is an asymmetrical Gothic Revival structure built of bluestone with limestone dressings in 1871 for Dr William Hearn, an academic and politician who became the chancellor of Melbourne University. The architect was probably Edward La Trobe Bateman. An 1864 slab cottage is now the home of the Diggers  Club which supplies seeds. The house is open to the public from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on weekdays, tel: (03) 5987 1877. There are also 2 hectares of cottage gardens which have been established on the original 1870s plantings. They are at their best between October and April. Heronswood Harvest Week is held in March and November.

Arthurs Seat State Park

Arthurs Seat is a steep granite hill (305 m above sea-level) which is the highest point on the Mornington Peninsula. It was named in 1802 by Lieutenant James Murray who was reminded of a mountain by that name located near Edinburgh. It was climbed later that same year by Matthew Flinders and later became one of the area s earliest tourist attractions. The flamboyance of the earlier architecture atop Arthurs Seat is a reminder of its popular past. Today it offers excellent views and a range of activities.

Arthurs Seat can be ascended by road or the Two Bays Walking Track. The hill is the focus of a 550-ha state park, declared in 1988 to protect the bushland. Atop the peak are picnic areas, electric barbecues, childrens  play facilities, car parking, a tearoom, and a viewing area. It offers outstanding perspectives of Port Phillip Bay, Bass Strait and the Mornington Peninsula.

To get there by car head out of Dromana on McCulloch Rd which passes under the freeway then take a right turn onto Arthurs Seat Rd. It soon bends to the left and passes a carpark beside the old chairlift site. Adjacent is a picnic area, a kiosk and the Manna Gum Gallery (open daily), tel: (03) 5987 1336. Alternatively just continue driving up Arthurs Seat Rd to the summit. En route is Murrays Lookout (247 m above sea-level). The Arthurs Seat Hill Climb is held each year in September.

Seawinds: Once you get to the summit of Arthurs Seat, turn right into Purves Rd and after 500 m you will see, on the right, the main gates to the 35-ha property known as Seawinds  which contains extensive ornamental gardens. The first European owner of this area was George Chapman, the gardener at Heronswood  (see previous entry). He lived in a homestead on the property and his children walked to school each day in Dromana. Work on the gardens was started in 1946 by surgeon Sir Thomas Travers and Lady Travers.

Arthurs Seat Maze and Gallery: Virtually opposite Seawinds is Arthurs Seat Maze which has several mazes (including a large hedge maze), twenty theme gardens (including a children s garden, a fairy garden, Japanese Gardens, cottage gardens, a fragrant garden, an African savannah garden and a Columbian pot garden), a parterre, a 9-metre topiary dragon, a sculpture park, an animal nursery, a kiosk, gallery and a licensed restaurant. It is open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. (tel: 03 5981 8449) while the restaurant is open seven days and seven nights though it is best to ring first, tel: (03) 5981 8559.

Charlies Auto Museum: 1.5 km from the summit is the Pine Ridge Car Museum which features a range of unusual cars, motorcycles, bowsers, signs and other automotive memorabilia housed in a 1940s-style garage. 175 Purves Road, Arthurs Seat VIC. Ph 0419 887 801 or 0359 89 6320 Opening Hours: 10.30am to 4.30pm daily.

Further south on Purves Rd are the Fuchsia Nursery (open daily from late October to May), the Pig & Whistle Pub and Country Kitchen and Arthurs Seat Riding Stables which offers bush-trail rides, tel: (03) 5989 6124.

Walks

Lookout Hill Circuit Walk: West of the Arthurs Seat summit, along Arthurs Seat Rd (before you reach the intersection with the Mornington-Flinders Rd), there is a turnoff on the left into Eatons Cutting Rd which leads to a carpark. This is the start of the Lookout Hill Circuit Walk (1 km) which passes through stringybark forest and open sheoak. It offers excellent views of the coast, the rural hinterland and Melbourne.

Two Bays Walking Track and Kings Falls Circuit Walk: The Two Bays Walking Track is a 30-km bush corridor that connects Port Phillip Bay (at Dromana) and Cape Schanck, passing through eucalypt forest, 200-year-old grasstrees, tea-tree thickets, fern gullies and open grasslands. The first section of the walk leads to the summit of Arthurs Seat (4.5 km one-way).
The track proper starts from the carpark at the intersection of La Trobe Parade and the Bunurong Track at the edge of Arthurs Seat State Park. However, you can walk to this carpark from the information centre via La Trobe Parade. Near the top of La Trobe Parade is Heronswood  (see next entry). From here, cross the highway over Matthew Flinders Bridge and you will soon come to the carpark. This section of Arthurs Seat Park is still rife with boneseed which was introduced from South Africa as an ornamental garden plant. The track ascends the hill, passing rocky outcrops, low grassy woodland, open forest and a superb lookout.
The track then reaches a junction. A signposted branch track on the left leads to and through the Seawinds  property then out of the main gate to Purves Rd. Turn left onto Purves Rd and it is about 500 m to the summit of Arthurs Park.
If, instead, you choose to follow the Two Bays Walking Track, it veers south-west. Another signposted branch track on the left leads off this main track to the Kings Waterfall Circuit Walk  a pleasant one-hour loop track which leads through bushland and a fern gully and past the waterfall which is situated on the south-western slope of Arthurs Seat. Signage along the route explains the natural history of the area and Parks Victoria provide a detailed accompanying leaflet, tel: 131 963 (it is also available from the Dromana Information Centre).

Kings Falls Circuit Walk: For those who would like to do the Kings Falls Circuit Walk without walking all the way from Dromana, just follow Arthurs Seat Road to the summit of the hill then turn right into Purves Rd and right again into Waterfall Gully Rd. After one kilometre there is a small gravel car park which provides access to the track. Meanwhile, the Two Bays Walking Track continues on to Waterfall Gully Rd then on via Duells Rd and Hyslops Rd, across Limestone Rd, through Greens Bush, across Boneo Rd and on to Cape Schanck Lighthouse. For further information on the Two Bays Track ring Parks Victoria at Rosebud on (03) 5986 8987.

Wineries

Dromana Valley Wines, on the corner of the Nepean Highway and Pickings Lane, is open weekends from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. and most weekdays from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. It offers chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, tel: (03) 5987 2093, or fax: (03) 5987 2093.

Hickinbotham of Dromana is located at 194 Mornington-Flinders Rd (on the corner with Wallaces Rd). It is open for cellar door sales daily from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (6.00 p.m. on weekends) and it boasts a bakery, cafe, a wine museum, wine memorabilia and jazz on Sundays, tel: (03) 5981 0355, or fax: (03) 5987 0692. The email address is hickwine@hotkey.net.au

Turramurra Estate Vineyard is an award-winning winery noted for its chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, piont noir, cabernet and shiraz. The tasting room is open from midday to 5.00 p.m. on the first weekend of every month, as well as on the Queen s Birthday and Melbourne Cup weekends, or by appointment, tel: (03) 5987 1146, or fax: (03) 5987 1286. The email address is turramurraest@ozemail.com.au. They are located 3 km along Wallaces Road.

Dromana Estate Winery is located in Harrisons Rd. It is open from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. daily and has a cafe serving gourmet lunches from midday and a children s playground, tel or fax: (03) 5987 2093. The email address is decellardoor@bigpond.com.au

Karina Vineyard is also located in Harrisons Rd. It produces chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet/merlot, riesling and sauvignon blanc and is open weekends from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and daily from 26 December to 31 January, tel or fax: (03) 5981 0137.

The Easter, Queen s Birthday and Melbourne Cup weekends tend to be special occasions when the Peninsula s wineries are all open and offer such fillips as food and music to accompany tastings.

History

During a 25-day exploration of Port Phillip Bay in a vessel named the Lady Nelson, Lieutenant James Murray achieved an unusual historic first. At Point King, about 22 km west of where Dromana now stands, they raised the newly-created Union Jack. This was the first time the flag had been raised on Australian soil. Murray was quickly followed by Matthew Flinders who mistook Port Phillip Bay for Westernport and only discovered his mistake after climbing Arthurs Seat which was named by Murray after a rocky outcrop near Edinburgh.

Two French ships were also exploring the southern waters at this time and, largely to forestall French claims to any part of the continent, the first European settlement on Port Phillip Bay was established by the British in 1803, although it was abandoned the following year (see entry on Sorrento). White settlement of the peninsula was not resumed until the 1830s after the establishment of Melbourne). Pastoralists began bringing livestock into the area late in the decade and fishermen soon followed.

One of the first Europeans to reside in the area was a Frenchman named Simon after whom Simons Creek is named. He apparently lived in a tree hollow on the slopes of Arthurs Seat and allegedly ate 20 goannas a week on occasion. Gold was discovered during the 1850s and prospectors arrived. The area was initially known to Europeans as Hobsons Flat but was renamed after a town in Ireland, possibly reflecting the ethnic origins of the goldminers.

The construction of a 1.2-km pier at Dromana in the 1870s made it an important export spot for local producers. The scenic nature of the location began attracting holiday-making Melburnians later in the 19th century and Dromana has become particularly popular with foreshore campers during the Christmas and Easter holidays.





Safety Beach, Dromana


Dromana Beach


Charlie's Auto Museum, Arthurs Seat



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