Over two million visitors a year make the trek down to this diverse playground of parklands because there is just so much to see and do.

Within the 2680 hectare Mornington Peninsula National Park there are breathtaking coastal views along the ocean side that include high cliffs and wide rock shelves “for rock pool rambling.” Between Flinders and Point Nepean. Gunnamatta and Rye Ocean Beach, like the dramatic dunes of Portsea Back Beach are enticing surfing venues.

Also within the Mornington Peninsula National Park is Greens Bush, where, not only do you find the largest local populations of Eastern Grey Kangaroo, but at 500 hectares it is also the biggest remnant of the Peninsula's native vegetation.

It is a place that showcases the natural world - the Little Penguins and dolphins that can sometimes be seen at Ticonderoga Bay, off the beaches at the 470 hectare Point Nepean National Park.

On a clear day, from the vantage point of the 305 metre high Arthur's Seat summit, a widescreen panorama of land and bay opens up in a view that can often see all the way back to Melbourne's city skyline.

Arthur's Seat was significant to the Bunurong (Boonerwrung) Aboriginal peoples who lived along the coasts for 40,000 years and whose middens are reminders of their long occupation. They called the mountain “Wonga.” It was the maritime explorer Matthew Flinders who climbed it in 1803 and gave it a new name.

Flinders' visit foreshadowed the commencement of European occupation of the Port Phillip District and indeed, it was at Sullivan Bay, near present day Sorrento, that the first permanent settlement this part of southern mainland Australia was attempted in 1803.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins transported 400 convicts and their overseers to this quiet corner of the Bay. Within seven months and due to poor drinking water and poorer soils, the encampment was abandoned. But not before Victoria's “wild white man” William Buckley, had made his escape to live for 32 years as the sole white man among the tribal peoples of south-eastern Australia.

Four graves and the site markers of the Sullivan Bay tents and buildings are all that remain of a very significant historic site. But there are many other places of historic significance in the Peninsula parklands that tell a rich and layered story:

At Point Nepean, from the late 1850s, a Quarantine Station was established to protect the fledgling city of Melbourne from shipborne diseases. From the 1880s, and because of its strategic significance, Point Nepean became heavily fortified.

Visitors can walk or take the transporter tour to discover whole networks of fortifications in the form of gun emplacements, powder magazines and tunnels. Their construction and purpose is explained in an interpretative sound display that helps understand what it was designed for.

Aside from exploring the history of settlements, the parklands provide wonderful venues for coast and bush rambling, swimming, picnics and for horse-riding and bike-riding.

The 26 kilometre “Two Bays” Walking Track links Arthur's Seat with Bushranger's Bay and Cape Schanck. There is some fantastic bushwalking, ranging from one to 9 kilometres, to be enjoyed in Green's Bush area as well as along the Bass Strait coast.

Image above: 

- Experience stunning vistas like this in the Mornington Peninsula National Park