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The History of Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Pinot Noir

The History of Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Sitting to the west of Port Philip and south of Melbourne is the beautiful and historic city of Mornington. This region in Victoria is home to over 150,000 people known for their hospitality and warm-heartedness. In addition to its picturesque and natural landscape, this area is widely known for its steady and persistent growth in agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and business.[1] The vibrancy of Mornington Peninsula’s economy transcends the lively streets and scenery — it has also demonstrated astonishing capabilities in producing top quality wines and mouthwatering dishes. These features explain why large numbers of tourists visit each year to treat themselves to the area’s wineries, beach houses, and water sports events.

Mornington Peninsula was formed around 10,000 BC after the bay of Port Phillip was flooded. After the flood dried out between 800 BC and 1000 AD, Australian natives, specifically the Mayune-bulluk and the Boonwurrung clans settled in the area alongside other clans that lived along the coast of the Werribee River. In total, six clans settled in the region before the arrival of the Europeans.[2]

Mornington Peninsula

The Arrival of the Europeans to the Mornington Peninsula

Upon their arrival at the Mornington Peninsula, the Europeans established the Sullivan Bay settlement, which served as a penal colony in 1803. This was over 29 years before the famous Lieutenant-Colonel Collins founded Melbourne. Historians tell tales of how lush the vegetation in the region was in 1803 when the European settlers controlled the area.

A significant part of the Mornington Peninsula is adorned with oak trees creating large forests. However, much of the forest was reduced to provide wood for the rapidly growing Melbourne city. However, despite the rapidly disappearing forests, the landscape still maintained its great orchards and many of the oak trees.

The Peninsula still possesses scenic natural vegetation, giving life to the Green Bush area — the greenery extending to the Western Port Bay and the Bass Strait on the coastal border. Today, the Green Bush forms part of a national park in Mornington Peninsula.

With this development, the bushland area attracted a host of native species like koalas and became known for its sustainability practices. Today, many recognize and applaud the area for its extensive grazing areas, gardens, and orchards.

Mornington Peninsula’s Historical Sites

The geography of the Mornington Peninsula is a dazzling sight to behold. Arthurs Seat is its highest point standing at 305 meters above sea level, overlooking the beautiful shoreline in the south, the largely flat northern region, and the over 109 km coastline.

However, the mangroves and mudflats are not the only attractions in the region. Mornington Peninsula is also known for its rich history. Historic buildings and landmarks adorn the area like the Clamber Lighthouse, whose history is traced to the 1850s.

The historical sites spread across the peninsula date back to the Coolant Homestead constructed in 1895, the McCrae Homestead constructed in 1844, and the Tallis Family Summer House built in 1863. What makes most of these buildings an essential part of Mornington’s history include but are not limited to the classical designs, the display of architectural shrewdness, rich gardens, and vintage finishings. But that’s not all.

Other landmarks include the iconic Mulberry Hill, which was once home to the Lindsays, and the Point Napean, which played a crucial role in the city’s defenses during the first and second World Wars.[3]

Mornington Peninsula’s Wine

With the tourism rate climbing as high as 20% in 2017, Mornington Peninsula ranks third among Victoria’s most visited tourist locations. Another fantastic side of the Peninsula is its wineries.

The suitable climate of Mornington is the primary driver of the wine industry in this region. Even though the climate is favorable to different varieties, Pinot Noir is the most cultivated grape variety. Expert winemaking methods contribute to the high-quality wines produced in over 50 wineries in Mornington Peninsula. Many of the wineries host tastings and have their own restaurants.

The Mornington Peninsula is also renowned for its apple production. Most of the apples are exported after satisfying the local demand. There are also a number of orchards and gardens producing cherries and berries in addition to organic farms producing organic beef.

On this day

July 7, 1971— A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Mornington Peninsula in 1971. Even though the Peninsula experienced several minor earthquakes annually, this is regarded as the last major earthquake that hit the region. Its epicenter was traced to Flinders at the Tyaab fault.

December 1, 1975 — Established in 1975, the Mornington Peninsula National Part, Sits on a 10.4 square mile expanse of land. It is among the area’s protected heritage alongside the Arthurs Seat State Park. The thriving wildlife, alongside other fun activities like nature walking and horseback riding, makes the park an impressive attraction.

Want to learn more about Australia’s wine history? Check out these books!

Wine Map of Australia – Bookshelf Edition Halliday Wine Companion 2022- The bestselling and definitive guide to Australian wine


  1. “Mornington – Mornington & District Historical Society.” 2022. Mornington & District Historical Society.
  2. “Baluk Arts.” 2022. Web.Archive.Org. 
  3. Go, Places, and History Heritage. 2022. “History And Heritage | The Official Tourism Website Of The Mornington Peninsula.” Visitmorningtonpeninsula.Org. 
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