Fort Nepean Walk

Port Nepean National Park

The Port Nepean National Park

Found at the tip of the Mornington Peninsula, the Port Nepean National Park is a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history and outdoor adventure. Since moving to Melbourne, this has been high on my list of city break weekends away. And I can say, it was totally worth it!

The park comprises of a diverse range of landscapes within its 560 hectares, including undulating hills, stunning beaches, dramatic cliffs and coastal views. Probably one of the coolest natural features of the park is the drastic, contrasting differences of the water on either side of the road; with the gentle waters of the bay versus the crashing waves on the ocean side.

Aside from its visual appeal, the Port Nepean National Park is also worth visiting for its maritime and military history. Port Nepean has played a crucial role in Australia’s war history, given its location at the entrance of Port Phillip Bay. Therefore the park is home to a number of remnants of military fortifications, gun emplacements and even tunnels, all dating back to the 19th Century. A definite must for any history buffs!

port nepean

Where is Port Nepean?

Port Nepean is located in Victoria, Australia at the end of the Mornington Peninsula. The nearest town is Portsea, with the beautiful Sorrento just further along. The easiest way to get here is by car. However, I was able to do this journey via public transport. It took ridiculously long, but it is possible.

How to get to Port Nepean National Park

If you’re coming from Melbourne CBD, or the inner suburbs, you’ll need to catch a train to Frankston. From there, you can take the 788 Frankston-Portsea bus to the Port Nepean National Park entrance. From here you can catch the Fort Nepean shuttle bus or walk straight into the national park. This journey took me over 3 hours, and that was early in the morning outside of peak rush hour.

If you can drive, do. There’s a highway running effectively from Melbourne all the way down the Mornington Peninsula coast, taking you directly to Port Nepean. There are several areas you can park in once inside Port Nepean.

Port Nepean National Park doesn’t have an entry fee, so you’re free to go in.

Point Nepean Walk

port nepean walk

Fort Nepean Walk

My favourite thing to do in Port Nepean was the Fort Nepean Walk. The walk technically starts at the Quarantine Station car park. From here, you walk along the main road to Fort Nepean, the very tip of Mornington Peninsula. The undulating route is around 4.7km each way and you’ll be treated to some impressive views the closer you get to the Fort.

Aside from the Fort Nepean shuttle bus, it’s a traffic free zone, closed off for cars. There are several shuttle bus stops throughout the walk, so you can use it as a hop on/off bus.

I went in June, where I imagine it was quieter than normal. But even then, there were a few groups of cyclists whizzing through and lots of people walking. I was initially put off going in winter, however the colder season meant it wasn’t crowded and the misty weather made it very atmospheric.

Fort Nepean Walk

History and Landmarks

This area played a crucial role in Australia’s defences from 1880s-1945. Throughout the park there are remnants of tunnels, historical buildings and gun emplacements. Most of the landmarks have some form of information plaque or board alongside to teach you about the history of the area and timeline of events during that time. You’ll be able to find most of these marked on Google maps or on the wall map at the information centre. The only bit I skipped was having a walk in the tunnels…the snake warnings and massive cobwebs were enough to put me off walking through dark, underground tunnels!

fort nepean tunnels

Point Nepean Information Centre

The Point Nepean Information Centre is roughly 1.2km from the entrance and is open daily between 10am-5pm (excl. Christmas). Definitely an interesting spot to visit, with helpful staff, but I was expecting it to have a few more facilities like a cafe. There is an ice cream fridge but that’s about it. You can rent bikes here to explore the rest of the park, which is a great alternative to the long walk or shuttle bus. As the roads are closed to the general public, it’s a pretty safe cycle…just a bit hilly!

Fort Nepean Shuttle Bus

The Fort Nepean Shuttle Bus is a regular hop-on hop-off service that you can take around the Point Nepean National Park. The main pick up points are the front entrance, Quarantine Station and Fort Nepean. However, there are a few other stops along the way. As of June 2023, the journey cost $12 AUD and tickets can be bought on the bus with card and cash payments. Each stop has a rough bus timetable, but there are warnings alongside that these are subject to change. The most reliable way to check the bus times is through the Ventura Tracker App.

Top Tips:

Bring food and water! There are no facilities to buy anything within the park and Portsea itself has fairly limited options too! The information centre did sell ice cream, but if you want anything more substantial, bring it. Unlike other parks I’ve been too within Australia, there are no water refill stations along the trails either. There are a number of designated picnic areas and benches with incredible views, so it’s definitely worth bring food.

Wear appropriate walking gear. Particularly shoes! I saw a few people walking around in flip flops and a number of the trails aren’t open-toe shoe friendly. There are also snake warnings everywhere, so I’d recommend proper trousers and shoes.

Stick to the main paths and trails. Again, there are a number of snake warnings and cornered-off sections due to unexploded bombs and dangerous terrain.

Download the Ventura Tracker App: This will allow you to see where the shuttle bus is in real time and help you plan your day a little better.

For more information on the National Park, and some of the history behind it, check out the official site here.

If you’re looking for other trips out of Melbourne, consider driving the Great Ocean Road, visiting Williamstown or spending a weekend in Ballarat!