Mornington Peninsula: Safety Beach to Portsea Hotel (Bay Trail) 31km

The Bay Trail covers Port Phillip Bay’s southern coastline on the Mornington Peninsula. To get there today, I commuted from Melbourne’s city centre to Frankston via train. Then bus 788 which goes from Frankston to Portsea. Great when returning to town, but my hiking destination today was Portsea Hotel. So I exited the bus at Safety Beach and started walking towards Portsea from there. Map below:

In true honesty, my original intention was bussing to Dromana and to walk from there. Not from Safety Beach. However, dozing off on the bus thinking I had missed my stop, I got off too early. No worries, what’s another 4km of walking or so?

Below is from where I started walking at Safety Beach. But first, a cup of tea and a muffin. The commuting trip took over 2 1/2 hours. Gotta get some energy now before getting cracking.

Flat surroundings with sea and sand. That would become a familiar sight throughout the day.

Safety Beach looking south

The Bay Trail is mostly set between the main coastal road and the sea. Only occasionally, you need to choose between walking along the road or walking along the beach.

The early parts of “my” Bay Trail today had posts with “jingles” like below (these posts disappeared after a while).

Bay Trail Jingle No 4

Beach boxes, bathing boxes, bathing huts… Many different names for those colourful buildings dotted along the bay. One of them was listed for sale, then referred to as a “Beach Box”.

Beach Boxes

The next photo may not be that exciting. It’s included since this is the border between Safety Beach and Dromana. Where I originally intended to get off that bus. The BP service station was my “landmark”. Oh well, no harm was done. Just more experiences.

Safety Beach / Dromana border

The Bay Trail’s surfaces varied. Mostly, compact sand as per below, but…

Bay Trail compact sand

…sometimes slightly less compact sand as the trail followed the seawall. Dromana Pier in the background…

Bay Trail along the seawall

…and just off Dromana Pier below.

Dromana Pier

Well, difficult to restrain photographing those “pleasing on the eye” bath boxes. Here are a few more…

Bath boxes

…including one needing some work. Almost artistic as is, wouldn’t you say?

Bath box with crumbling paint

Interesting that bike riding is not allowed during the summer months. Mind you, this sign was the only one I saw during the day.

There are sections of the Bay Trail where cycling would be difficult anyway. The nearby and ever-present road provides the alternative for cyclists. And while there were quite a few there, I recall only seeing a handful on the trail.

Walking only, no cycling throughout summer

I took the steps up to this bench for my next break. Well, no steps today required. Quiet and nice spot for a cuppa looking out to the sea which is just behind me.

Quiet contemplative spot

There is a small stretch between Dromana and McCrae where the road hugs the water. Still, there is a narrow walking path.

Where the road hugs the sea

The next photo has nothing to do with the Bay Trail other than that I spotted it from there. Those are handrails going up to…? from…? Intriguing…

The mysterious handrails

The orange marker identifies the Bay Trail. Somewhat scarce in places. Pretty obvious where to from here though. And a lighthouse…?

Bay Trail signpost

Yes, McCrae’s Lighthouse soon appeared. In the suburb of… McCrae. Restrictive fencing. Not sure about any regular opening hours…

McCrae’s Lighthouse

Camping grounds aplenty today. I lost count over the number of camping grounds I walked through. At least five. Early November is not peak season and many camping grounds were scarcely populated and one still closed.

Seen one, seen them all. Perhaps the least attractive part of the Bay Trail.

McCrae Camping Ground (I think, they all looked the same)

The Bay Trail turned into a boardwalk just before Rosebud Pier. Not for long, but yet another different walking surface.

Bay Trail boardwalk

Money had been spent landscaping around Rosebud Pier but those seats and tables were underutilised today. However, an enormous new playground just behind me attracted plenty of kids.

Rosebud Pier

I may be wrong here, but I think that near accidents and mishaps (or worse?) have happened here at the entrance to Capel Sound Foreshore camping. Better be cautious…

Four times caution

Some beach boxes, unfortunately, had been tagged. I’m unimpressed. Why?

Tagged beach boxes

The time approached 1.30pm so now lunch. I intended to walk more than halfway before my lunch break and Rye at around 17km was it. What else to eat along the water but fish and chips?

Fish and chips lunch in Rye

You will find plenty of waterholes and eating places along the Bay Trail. One beach community after another, most if not all, with plenty of shops catering for beachgoers. Take a pick.

The Bay Trail forms part of the Mornington Peninsula Walk as per the noticeboard below. Obviously the top part. A previous hike with YHA Bushwalking Club covered the Cape Schanck to Sorrento Back Beach leg along the ocean (post here).

I have yet to complete the Bay to Bay walk connecting the two bodies of water.

A Mornington Peninsula Walk noticeboard

Beaches aplenty today. I did some beach walking whenever the path was non-existent.

Another beach

After 19.2km on “my” Bay Trail in Rye, an old lime kiln appeared. Limestone deposits were discovered here as early as 1804, in line with the original Collins Settlement (more later).

Rye Lime Kiln

Why is 19.2km important? Here the track ascended. For the first time today, the Bay Trail is not flat. A small hill appeared behind that lime kiln and in the photo below we are above the kiln.

Above Rye Lime Kiln

The Bay Trail now looked like a “proper” hiking trail. For a little while…

“Up, up and above…”

…before it descended and became flat again.

The surface below, the cement, gravel, pebble mix, appeared common on U.S. hiking trails. Less featured in Australia. I think it’s a brilliant surface whenever the ground may shift or where heavy foot traffic.

Yet another type of surface

The Bay Trail almost “disappeared” here due to trees and foliage, with the brilliant colours of the beach boxes breaking up the darkness.

Beach boxes in the dark

I mentioned Collins Settlement earlier, the first British settlement in Victoria (1803). The area is called Cameron’s Bight and (I think) the below is Cameron’s Bight’s Pier.

Cameron’s Bight

Collins Settlement and Cameron’s Bight’s information was provided and there is a memorial too.

“First British Settlement in Victoria”

Around the headland at Collins Settlement Site, a walkway on rocks over the water had been constructed. Looked new and sturdy. Should keep those pesky waves away from eroding the land too.

“Walking on water”

There were several private piers along Sullivan Bay. Who knows, some may be impossible to pass under at high tide. In particular, one pier challenged my bending skills today…

Under the boardwalk(s)

The Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry departed in the distance as I approached Sorrento.

Between Sullivan Bay and Sorrento Foreshore Reserve

The Sorrento Foreshore Reserve was busy but you wouldn’t eat your fish and chips here. One bloke tried and possibly a hundred seagulls surrounded him as he sat on those steps. He soon gave up and left. The ferry terminal to the right…

The ferry terminal to the right…

Sorrento Foreshore Reserve

…and now in front. Some local controversy whether the operator would be given permission to build a “proper” terminal here. Too bulky, an eyesore etc says the community. Outdated, too small, lack of facilities says the operator. Time will tell what, if anything, will happen…

Some local controversy whether the operator should be given permission to build a “proper” terminal there. Too bulky, an eyesore etc says the community. Outdated, too small, lack of facilities says the operator. Time will tell what, if anything, will happen…

Sorrento Ferry Terminal

Homestretch now as I walk up the hill and through Sorrento Historic Park. Soon into Portsea.

Sorrento Historic Park

Portsea is an exclusive part of greater Melbourne and counts the transporting magnate Lindsay Fox as a resident. Plenty of imposing and impressive residences along Point Nepean Road, but I include just one photo. A series of tall bushes, all trimmed into a circular form. I whispered to myself… Why?

I whispered to myself… Why?

Like an enormous carwash…

Portsea Hotel was my final destination, where I would stay the night.

Nothing flash there. Just a great old-style hotel, with a canteen/restaurant, bars and a beer garden with killer views overlooking Port Phillip Bay and Portsea Pier.

Today’s hiking verdict is easy mostly flat walking with occasional points of interest along the way. An OK but not spectacular walk. Too many camping grounds became somewhat boring. And would it sound spoilt if I say that even the beaches looked mostly the same?

I will probably not redo this walk. There are better local alternatives like walking Point Nepean National Park (which I’ve done but not included here) and the above-mentioned Cape Schanck to Sorrento Back Beach.

Portsea Hotel

I leave you, dear reader, with some additional photos around Portsea Hotel post hiking (a stay there is highly recommended):

Enjoying a Hop Culture AIPA in the beer garden. Brilliant beer from Mornington Brewing Company
Portsea Hotel’s Beer Garden Saturday early evening
Portsea Pier Saturday evening
Portsea Pier from Portsea Hotel’s Beer Garden Saturday evening
Portsea Pier Sunday morning
Portsea Pier from the west Sunday morning

2 thoughts on “Mornington Peninsula: Safety Beach to Portsea Hotel (Bay Trail) 31km

  1. Hi, Hans! Well, you`re right about campsites and beaches, but this walk still looks colorful and peaceful. Photos are great, you really did a good job with them, again. I was wondering, how you discover trails like this?

    1. Hi Nigel,

      My apologies for taking time to get back to you.

      We have a great public city library here in Melbourne and many of my hikes come from one of the books I borrowed from there.

      This particular one though is me checking out Google Maps. As in, there must be a way through…


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