A Weekend Photographing the Mornington Peninsula

A weekend photographing the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, with friends is a weekend well spent.

Both sides of the peninsula are bordered by water with a rugged south Victorian coastline and ocean beaches on the eastern side and calmer water, white sand and cute beach boxes along the vast shores of Port Phillip Bay on the western side.

My weekend visit was to catch up with some pals from @thetravelbootcamp.  Many of us had connected online for over a year and for some this was our first meeting #IRL – in real life. 

We started our weekend photographing the Mornington Peninsula, with an early visit to Balnarring Beach on the east coast looking across the water to Phillip Island.

Windswept with an almost desolate feel coupled with a low tide and a cold southerly wind blowing, I began to wonder why I had left my warm bed.

As the sun rose, it cast a golden glow across the sand and all the treasures of the low tide were revealed. The beach started to come to life with dog walkers, horse trainers, birdlife and right on cue a pod of dolphins.

Midway along the beach is a small spit with some worn timber structures similar to the remnants of an old jetty.

Called Groynes they were built during the 1950s to prevent further erosion of the beach following a severe winter storm in 1946. Today a large pile of rocks has been put in place to stop the erosion.

As it was low tide, we were able to get up close and discovered many marine creatures, like Limpets, Conniwinks and little Blue Periwinkles had made their home on the sides of the Groynes amongst the draped seaweed and rusty bolts still in place following 70+ years of harsh onshore winds and salt spray.

I loved the texture and colour of the old, weathered timber and wondered how long they could keep standing against the stormy weather or if they would eventually be consumed by the sea.

We spent the next hour or so snapping away, laughing and enjoying all the beauty of Balnarring Beach before enjoying a hot coffee and delicious breakfast at the nearby Red Hill Bakery before arriving at the nearby Coolart Wetlands and Homestead.

There is so much to see and do and it almost seemed a weekend photographing Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula wasn’t enough time to see it all.

Coolart Homestead was originally a grazing property then stud for racehorses until the 1970s. The grand home was built in the late 19th century and still retains its palatial feel today.

Many outbuildings are dotted around the property with the Stables, the Buttery and shearing sheds well preserved and full of charm.

Walking through the expansive gardens there are many established trees and gardens beds planted with a large variety of gorgeous flowering plants. 

Wandering around the gardens leads down to the wetland areas where there are several bird watching and observing buildings providing visitors with a close view of the many resident as well as migratory birds.

Our lunch stop at T’Gallant Cellar Door and Pizzeria refuelled us for the afternoons activities starting with a visit bayside and Dromana Beach.

It’s safe to say Victorians love a pier! Port Phillip Bay has over a dozen scattered around its foreshore providing all manner of activities swimming, snorkelling, boating, fishing and photographing!

The Dromana Pier was rebuilt in the 1950s from concrete and is just under 200m long. Look closely as each pylon has a number and the date inscribed into the concrete.

Many wouldn’t think a concrete pier as beautiful or as romantic as a timber one. I do however, like the harsh lines and colours from the rust and how the light reflection changed the colour of the water from aqua blue to a pale green.

Dromana Beach is all white sand and seashells, gulls and home to 240 brightly coloured bathing boxes scattered along the foreshore of Port Phillip Bay.

Handed down through generations of families, some have power, some have a heritage listing and they can sell for more than $200,000.

Walking along the beach, I found myself drawn to the classic nautical striped boxes although the contrast of bright orange or pink against the clear blue water was also beautiful.

For our sunset shoot our friend and expert in all things travel and tourism Rhonda Norman from @regionalexperiences suggested we visit Bridgewater Bay. Here the land narrows and in parts it’s only 1km wide between Port Phillip Bay and Bass Strait.

Kate, Lea, Anika and I found it an easy walk along a sandy path to the top of the ridge where the next series of shots were taken. The waves crashing onto the rock shelf below and coastal grasses made for a lovely composition.

We made our way down the well-constructed staircase to the beach and towards our destination on the other side of a rock shelf made up of sharp sandstone!

Instead of the large flat sandstone, I’m familiar with in and around Sydney, this was pitted and sharp with vertical holes and crevices making it tough going.

Carrying camera and gear and trying to pick the easiest, the less water-logged path was a challenge!

Result – 1 soggy wet shoe and sock!

Once we’d made it across the rocks we each found a spot to set up and wait for sunset.

Towards the edge of the rock platform is a large curved rock named Jump Rock and at low tide it was difficult to imagine anyone wanting to climb and jump off this huge monolith for any reason!

Our last morning saw us drive 15 minutes uphill from Dromana to Arthurs Seat and the views of the Port Phillip bayside of the peninsula north and south are spectacular as are the extensive gardens, birds and wildlife.

I enjoyed a great weekend photographing the Mornington Peninsula with a fabulous group of ladies. The whole of the Mornington Peninsula is beautiful and with so much we didn’t see and do I’ll definitely return.

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