Mount Martha is the name given to a mountain and a reclusive suburb around 70 km south-east of Melbourne. It is situated in the Shire of Mornington Peninsula, north of Safety Beach and overlooking Port Phillip Bay.
The region is blessed with wide sandy beaches, flanked by rocky cliffs and bushes, gorgeous viewing points, wildlife reserves, heritage listed farm buildings and parks.
The regional wildlife reserves are home to scores of species of birds and animals. There are many walking tracks to explore the region (Balcombe Creek Walk, Arboretum Walk, Woodland Walk, Mt Martha Walk, et al). Follow the broadwalks to the bird hides - with over 120 species of birds inhabiting the 30 hectares of wetlands along the conduit of water.
The woodlands have a wide variety of fauna in the form of mammals like kangaroos, possums, wallabies, koalas and more; small birds like robins, whistlers, mistletoebirds, pardalotes, fantails, etc; and reptiles like skinks, tree dragons, snakes among other species. The wetlands fauna includes several fish species like galaxias, yellow-eyed mullets, southern pygmy perches and flounders, et al; birds like the Great Egret and the Royal Spoonbill, and other more common ones like pelicans, ibis, herons and crakes etc. You can even spot many species of frogs and occasional tortoises.
The Briars Park is a major attraction in the area – featuring a 19th century homestead, a nursery, vineyard, wildlife reserve and bird hides. The 19th century homestead houses a Napoleonic collection of around 500 pieces apart from farm machinery antiques, photographs and other such memorabilia.
Balcombe Creek is another popular attraction in the region. Following uncertain upsurges, the estuary sometimes flows into the bay. It is ideal for canoeing, kayaking or swimming. The creek and the surrounding expanse were earlier christened 'Tichin-Gorourke', after the local Aboriginal name meaning 'voice of the frogs'. Having purchased the holding, a few years later, Alexander Balcombe started building the homestead and renamed the estate 'The Briars', after his family name.
Mount Martha Park is yet another interesting place to bask in nature's glory. It is 53 hectares of native bushland, encompassing Mt Martha summit, which is around 160 m high and suitable for hiking. As you tread higher, you will enjoy panoramic views of the bay and Arthurs Seat.
The wildlife reserve, bird-observatories and picnic area is open for public between 11 am to 5 pm daily and entry is free, while the homestead closes at 4 pm.
The converted stables have evolved into Josephine's restaurant, open daily for morning and afternoon tea. Lunch is served from Wednesday to Sunday while dinner is available on Friday and Saturday.
Mount Martha also brags of an 18-hole public golf course that remains open seven days a week. It is excellent for beginners and intermediates and staff assistance is readily available. The course remains open from 6 am to 7 pm during summers and 6 am to 5 pm during winters. The pricing is fairly affordable ($22.00 for 18 holes and $15.50 for 9 holes). For further details contact Mt Martha Golf Club or click here for general information.
If you're wishing to spent the night, you can get self-contained cottages at reasonable prices or you could head towards Mornington or Safety Beach (both roughly 6 km from Mount Martha) for more accommodation options. There are a few caravan parks too.
Despite all this Mount Martha is more like a blue-sky holiday destination, ideal for people seeking repose in the purdah of nature. Good for a weekend escape or a day trip.
Mount Martha has to be one of my favourite beach stops on a Mornington Peninsula road trip. The water is always crystal clear blue, the sand, coarse, so it doesn't cling to your skin, and the beach boxes are so colourful. With cafes and ice cream parlours dotted along the main street, spending a whole day here is very easy indeed!
By Lisa Williams - senior reviewer Sunday, 29th of May @ 11:22 am
Agreed. I'm even happy to beat the winter chill to trod along the beautiful coast. And added the proximity to the public golf course, I can never get enough of this lovely place.
By A Behl - senior writer Wednesday, 29th of June @ 01:18 am
Mt Martha is part of my day. I swim there and am getting to know the beach and the weather. I love swimming there and your article covers some great things about the area.
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer Monday, 18th of July @ 12:57 am
Oh, there are no icecream parlours in Mt Martha. There are some great cafes, but no icecream parlours.
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer Monday, 18th of July @ 12:58 am
As a mad birdwatcher, I was wondering which species of crake you saw at which wetlands. I've never heard any described as 'common' in other places.
By Debbie Lustig - senior reviewer Saturday, 30th of June @ 10:00 am