Corinella, on the eastern shore of Western Port Bay, serves as a holiday destination with a focus on recreational fishing, and has a pier and boat ramp and provides access to French Island via a privately operated barge.

Where is it?: Corinella is located 114 km south-east of Melbourne via the M1 and the Bass Highway.

The town of Corinella likes to promote itself as Victoria’s best kept secret, and a visit to this often ignored holiday destination illustrates why they make that claim. Here you can take an early morning stroll along serene seaside walking tracks that seem to go on forever, or slip your boat into calm clean ocean fed waters and just relax while you catch a snapper or a brace of whiting for breakfast – all this just seconds from your front door.

Corinella enjoys a warmer average temperature due to being surrounded on three sides by the waters of Western Port bay, the warmer water temperature keeps the winters frosts away and keeps the climate in Corinella milder than the ocean facing Phillip Island. The Corinella Peninsula is blessed with panoramic picturesque views of the sea and islands of the bay, and has ideal access to the bay for most types of boating craft.

A blend of rural grazing and farming land surrounds the Corinella Peninsula with a broad range of agricultural production, including prestigious thoroughbred racing horse farms, beef and dairy cattle, red deer farming, flower and herb growers, winery viticulture and many more, all prospering in this ideal seaside climate.

Just to the east of the present town, a settlement was founded in 1826 from Sydney in response to a concern for possible French territorial claims. In that year Dumont d’Urville in command of the corvette Astrolabe examined Westernport, aroused suspicion during his scientific voyage. Authorities in Sydney had also recently received reports from explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell who mistakenly believed they had reached Westernport in 1824 (when in fact they had arrived at Corio Bay many kilometres to the west.

A contingent of soldiers and 21 convicts under the command of Captain Wright was dispatched with William Hovell to assist. A small military settlement called Fort Dumaresq was established near the present-day site of Rhyll on the north coast of Phillip Island. Lack of fresh water proved a problem and the outpost was moved to Corinella then called Settlement Point.

Hovell’s subsequent report claiming Westernport was unsuitable for agriculture, owing to poor soil and lack of fresh water, and the absence of any Frenchmen, led to the abandonment of the settlements in 1828. The buildings were burnt to prevent use by escaped convicts. A memorial cairn in Jamieson Street marks the site of the original settlement and another monument at the end of Smythe Street commemorates Paul Edmund de Strzelecki’s exploration in 1840.

The 1826-8 Corinella was subject to extensive archaeological investigations in the late 1970s by the Victoria Archaeological Survey led by Peter Coutts. Although equivocal in its conclusions about the location and remains of the settlement, the dig established the importance of the site to Victoria’s history and European settlement.

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