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Friday, April 24, 2009

Point Nepean National Park

Point Nepean National Park is 95 km from Melbourne.

It was opened to the public in 1988 - prior to that it had been out of bounds to most people for more than 100 years.

It's association with early settlement, shipping, quarantine and defence give it great significance and its natural features are diverse.

At the extreme western tip of the Park is Fort Nepean, the site of extensive defence fortifications built in the early 20th century, abandoned in 1945.

Nearby is Cheviot Hill, which at 54 m above sea level is the highest spot in the Park, with three Lookouts.

Below the Hill is Cheviot Beach, where former Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in 1967 - there is an excellent Memorial to him overlooking the Beach.

The views from the various Lookouts are magificent, across Port Phillip Bay and westerly past Point Lonsdale.

Many of the fortifications, tunnels, gun emplacements and barracks may be inspected.

Access to the Park is via the Visitor Centre, about 1 km past Portsea village. An admission fee is charged. This was $7 per person for a "Walking Permit". Higher fees, $16 per person, apply for people wishing to use the Transporter service, a tractor-driven "road train" of small, quaint, covered open vehicles, which runs 7 km (14 km return) from the Visitor Centre to Fort Nepean every two hours. There are three stopping points along the way, on sealed Defence Rd, for drop-off and pick-up.

Cars are not permitted beyond Gunner's Car Park, 2 km from the Visitor Centre. From there, visitors may use the Transporter, cycle (very steep in parts!) or walk.

A printed Visitor Guide is provided as part of the admission fee.

It is 7 km return from the car park to Fort Nepean.

About half way along, there is a side foot-track and staircases to Cheviot Hill Lookout and a circuit walk and Lookouts at the summit, adding about 2 km to the journey.

My walking visit on Thursday April 23 2009 was from Gunners Car Park, to Cheviot Hill Lookout, then on to Fort Nepean, about 9 km total, which included inspections of Fort Pearce, Eagle's Nest, the Harold Holt Memorial. and the various fortifications.

Parks Victoria ask walkers to use the foot-tracks to reach Fort Nepean and not walk on Defence Rd. Unfortunately, at the time of my visit, a major foot-track, Coles Track, was closed for upgrading.

Large sections of the area are bounded by high barbed-wire cyclone fences, the former military testing range, with notices advising people not to go in there, due to the dangers of unexploded bombs.

See the full set of Photos of my visit!

Please see the Parks Victoria website further information, at

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