The picturesque coastline between Brighton and Beaumaris offers some of Melbourne's most spectacular walking within easy reach of public transport. There are panoramic views of imposing red cliffs, wide sandy beaches, rocky coves and, of course, miles of sea. With numerous lookout points, it's no wonder the Bayside Coast has attracted so many well-known painters over the years.
Following along this coastline is the Coastal Art Trail, stretching for 17 kilometres between Elwood Beach and Beaumaris. It aims to celebrate the lives and artworks of notable Australian artists who painted here. Featuring more than 50 artworks on signs along the way, the trail highlights paintings by well-known artists of the Heidelberg School such as Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton as well as many lesser-known artists. The paintings are placed on each sign next to a photo of the same scene today - it's interesting to compare, see the changes that have occurred and to look out over the view for yourself.
It's an easy walk along varied surfaces – sometimes you walk along the beach, sometimes on a sandy trail above the cliffs and at other times the route follows a path shared with bikes alongside Beach Road. There's no need to commit to the full 17 kilometres - you can easily just do a shorter section of the walk. And there are plenty of cafes along Beach Road for the weary, culturally-overloaded walker or the picnic-ly challenged.
If you're keen to see where the Heidelberg School painters worked in the 1880's, the section of the trail around Beaumaris is worth visiting. There are several paintings there by Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Frederick McCubbin .
Tom Roberts painted "The Sunny South" there, a painting that suggests the strict bathing clothing laws of the time were sometimes ignored...
You can reach the walk from numerous train stations on the Sandringham line – North Brighton, Middle Brighton, Brighton Beach, Hampton and Sandringham stations all offer good access. The Beaumaris end of the walk is served by bus 600, 825, 922 or 923. If you're driving, Beach Road and The Esplanade are the closest roads. There are several car parks along the route but it's worth mentioning the parking is rarely free.
McCubbin, Streeton and Roberts are among my favourite painters, along with Pro Hart and a few lesser known ones like Eric Tonkin. I just love the way they represent Australia and Victoria in particular, makes me feel so lucky to live here! This art trail sounds fantastic, I hadn't actually heard of it before - it seems like a good reason to go exploring out that side.