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Sorrento Historic Walk

Home > Melbourne > Beaches | Day Trips | Escape the City | Outdoor | Walks
by Lorraine A (subscribe)
Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Published June 26th 2013
Want more than coffee shops?
Sorrento beach


Sorrento is a beautiful seaside town that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. It's popular for it's beaches, cafes, shops and it's accessibility from Melbourne. Also known as the "Millionaires Playground."

However what many people overlook is the towns history, it's a place that has a very interesting tale to tell, which you can explore on foot in an easy 6-7 km walk.

Collins Settelment at Sullivan Bay monument


We parked at Sullivan Beach car park, which is also the site of the first European Settlement that included 308 convicts. The settlement was established in 1803 under the charge of Lieutenant David Collins, it was established mainly to prevent the French from claiming the territory as they were also exploring at the time.

Information at Sullivan's Bay


The site was problematic with fresh water hard to find and not favourable for either whaling or timber. These difficulties resulted in the relocation of the settlement to Van Diemen's Land in May 1804.

A plaque consisting of the convicts names


Over 30 people died in this short time and only four graves remain.

Grave sites


After visiting the grave site we went back to the car park and followed the footpath towards Sorrento, as you follow the track there are many information boards along the way giving the history of the area.

Sorrento sailing club pier


When we reached the Sorrento Sailing Club we walked along the beach to the rotunda on the shoreline at the bottom of town. This is close to where the tram would have commenced after visitors had gotten off a paddle steamer to get into town.

picture of the steam train in front of the Continental Hotel courtesy of the Continental Hotel


The tram line ran between 1890 -1920 with the line running from the bay to the back beach, which was just over a mile trip.

The sleepers from the tram line were pulled up and sold to Warburton Timber mills and the locomotive and trailers were transported to Noojee in 1920.

A road was constructed 1929.

Continental Hotel


As you walk up the hill to the main the most notable building is the Continental hotel which was built in 1875 and is still the only 4 storey limestone structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

On the opposite side of the road you will notice Stringers Stores which was built in 1886 as a single storey limestone building. In 1894 a second story was added.



As you keep walking down the main St you will notice many historic buildings. At the very bottom end of town on the corner of Melbourne Rd is the Mechanics Institute that now houses the museum, built in 1877. Unfortunately it wasn't open when we visited,so make sure you check the opening times to avoid disappointment.

Gardens at the Pioneers cottage


We had lunch in the gardens of the Pioneer Cottage next to the museum then continued back down the main street and turned left into Point Nepean Rd towards Portsea to see one of the most beautiful little churches I have seen. The Pioneer Cottage or Watts Cottage " Ilfracombe", is of wattle and daube construction with shingle roof originally sourced from Arthurs Seat and built 1869-70. St Johns church was constructed of limestone in 1874.

St Johns Church


Cute little cottage


On the way to the church we noticed this cute little cottage and wondered what it's history is?

We returned back to the car marvelling at all the amazing houses.

Carmels B&B

Other buildings and places include;

The Atheneum Theatre, 1894.
Sandstone Presbyterian Church , 1880.
Whitehall Guesthouse, 1904.
Sorrento Park , est 1870.
George Coppins holiday house " Anchorage", 1873.

If you are interested in looking at Sorrento's historic buildings and settlement there is a heritage walking map available at the Sorrento Information centre or you can view it here.

Trees on the shoreline
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Why? For Sorrento's history
When: All year round
Where: Start from Sullivan Bay car park off the Point Nepean Rd, Sorrento
Cost: Free
Your Comment
good article thanks!
by Jerome (score: 2|111) 2208 days ago
Inspiring article. Just heading off now.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|5613) 2040 days ago
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