Thursday, January 16, 2020

Sorrento to Portsea, Millionaires Walk - September 2019.

The view from the Millionaires Walk section of today's stroll.

This walk is a little different to most of the other walks on my blog I’m thinking, not because it’s not a wilderness walk or the fact that its a fairly easy stroll. No the main reason that this walk is different was that because long sections of this walk basically walk through the back yards of the million dollar houses that line this part of the coast. Portsea is one of the most expensive of the old money suburbs in Victoria I would think. While you’d think that having a walk go through their back yards is a very egalitarian thing to do I’m not overly sure that the property owners are happy with the situation. Whatever the situation it’s an interesting walk…in a kind of voyeuristic ‘so this is how the 1% live’ kind of way!

I started today's walk at the rotunda near the Sorrento Pier.

With a mid 20˚ day predicted I was hoping for some blue sky and sun today, unfortunately that wasn’t exactly playing out as planned when I pulled up at the Sorrento Pier this morning. I headed over to the rotunda to start the walk under a gunmetal grey sky within no sun in sight. After resetting the GPS at the rotunda I set off on my meandering journey towards Portsea. Navigation wise this walk requires a bit of concentration as there are sections of the waterline that have been claimed by the landed gentry (hello Lindsay Fox) and sections of the cliff tops are also off limits so I basically had to zig and zag my way along the coastline. Arriving at the Sorrento Pier I picked up the un-signposted path heading up to the Sorrento Historic Park and was on my way.

Leaving the pier I picked up this track that climbed up to the cliff tops.

Once up on top of the cliffs in the park the going was reasonably straight forward for awhile and the views were long….and grey! Making my way through the park I emerged beside Point Nepean Road. Walking the foot path beside this road wasn’t actually as bad as you’d imagine, the footpath was separated from the road by trees for some of the length and there were always the flash mansions to check out, although I could mostly only see big fences, steel gates and tradesmen this morning. Shortly after passing St Johns Anglican Church (the church dates back to 1874, however the rendered concrete ramp in front kind of spoils things a bit) I turned right down Lentell Avenue and headed a couple of hundred metres to the coast.

Up on the cliffs everything was pretty easy...this is looking up Port Phillip Bay towards Arthurs Seat from Sorrento...
...and this is looking down the bay towards Portsea.
St Johns Church

Now this is where things get a bit unusual. Instead of my normal type of walk where I’d probably drop down to water level and start making my way along the coast or maybe follow well sign posted cliff top track this morning I had to stoop through some vegetation to unlatch a garden gate and enter what I was sure was going to be someones backyard (check out the photo if you don’t believe me!). The only ‘tell’ that I wasn’t walking into someones back yard was a tiny placard on the gate telling me to keep my dog on a lead. Once through the gate I was on the Millionaires Walk, now as I alluded to earlier I'm guessing that the reason that this walk isn’t promoted or signposted is probably because said millionaires aren’t overly happy about it.

This is where things got a bit pick up the Millionaires Walk I had pass through this un-signposted garden gate.
Once through the fence I stayed close to the cliff line.
Millionaires Walk

Whatever the reason that this walk is a little under the radar it wasn’t because of any lack of quality in the scenery department. The track stays right on the cliff line and the views out over the bay are pretty well constant. There are numerous private jetties lining the sandy coves of Port Phillip Bay along here although I’m thinking that you might be asking for trouble dropping down to them, still the view of them from the track was pretty good. Arriving at Point King I checked out the spot that Acting Lietenant John Murray took possession of Port King (Port Phillip Bay) for the queen back in 1802, there is a plaque on a cairn there now that celebrates the day, the plaque also mentions the indigenous people that had lived here for thousands of years - I suppose that’s something..?

There is no shortage of private jetties along this section of the coastline.
There are a variety of gates to negotiate along here.
Short sections were getting a little overgrown.

Point King marked the spot I headed back out to Point Nepean Road again for short stretch. After walking along Point Nepean Road for ten minutes or so I once again headed for the coast, this time down Hemston Avenue. Instead of following a cliff top path I dropped down onto the beach here, passing by a couple of beach boxes as I walked out onto the soft sand of Shelley Beach. This little beach is one of the few bay beaches along this section of coast that actually has reasonable… and legal, public access I’m thinking.

Reaching Point King I headed inland again.
Following Point Nepean Road I got some glimpses of the mansions hiding behind the high fences.
Point Nepean Road
I shuffled my way past some beach boxes as I headed for Shelley Beach.

Shuffling along the soft sand this morning, with the sun threatening to show itself at any minute, things were once again pretty good in my Feral world. Nearing the western end of Shelley Beach I was looking for another fairly informal path climbing back up to the cliff tops again. After making my way across another couple of private jetties I found the path I was looking for as it headed off between two beach boxes. Climbing the steps I once again found myself walking a very small section of no mans land between the million dollar houses and the cliff tops as I made my way along to Point Franklin.

Shelley Beach
Shelley Beach...the sun was threatening to make a belated appearance.
Shelley Beach
Shelley Beach
Shelley Beach

Arriving at Point Franklin progress along the coast was once again blocked however I was basically in Portsea by now. After climbing up to Point Nepean Road again I dropped down to the small village of Portsea. Portsea is a funny little place, while the suburb itself is super flash with it’s multi million dollar real estate, great views and expensive European cars I’m always a little underwhelmed by the shopping strip itself. With a small eclectic collection of nondescript shops and cafés it’s a very low key affair. Wandering out to the Portsea Pier my days stroll was over now though, while I’d been hoping for a blue sky that had largely alluded me it had still been worth while walk, I guess I’ll have to come back when the suns out next time!

I picked up these un signposted stairs between some beach boxes at the western end of Shelley Beach.
Once again I found myself walking across the backyards of the flash houses.
There had been a bit of selective pruning in a couple of spots on the cliff top pad.
Point Franklin
The historic Portsea Hotel.
Portsea's small shopping strip.

The Dirt.
I walked 5.8 kilometres and climbed 106 metres on this easy stroll. There are opportunities for a swim at Sorrento and Shelly Beach and a large selection of cafés in Sorrento. Like I’ve mentioned this walk isn’t really sign posted or promoted but it is legal, you’ll need to keep an eye on the map though! I used the notes and map out of Woodslane's Best of the Mornington Peninsula book and they got me through OK, I’m guessing the relevant Melways page might do the job too. Bus 788 can take you back to Sorrento cheaply and quickly. Now while I've been a little irreverent about the Millionaires Walk section of this walk really I'm just taking the piss a bit, if there is anyone out there who actually does this walk then walk quietly and with respect along the cliff top sections. It's great to be able to access these spots and we don't want to lose the access we've got.

Relevant Posts.
Sorrento, 2016.
Sorrento to Blairgowrie, 2018.
Farnsworth Track, Mornington Peninsula National Park, 2018.

Portsea Beach in front of the hotel has been eroding away for years now, it's thought that it is linked to the deepening of Port Phillip Heads.
Looking along Port Phillip Bay towards Point Nepean National Park.
Portsea Pier - I guess I'll have to come back again on a blue sky day sometime.


  1. Nice walk. I've had a couple of trips down there and have driven past the houses and they are rather impressive. In parts of Sydney there has been a problem with people illegally extending their blocks down to the water and stopping access. A problem is that Google maps sometimes doesn't have the correct boundaries.

    1. I think Lindsay Fox may have done the same thing down here... although apparently it's all legal.


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