The scenic town of Mount Martha is an undoubted jewel on the shoreline of the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria. One of the smaller towns on this busy coastline on Port Philip Bay, Mount Martha can boast of beautiful, unspoiled beaches, native bushland and cliffs that bring in discerning holidaymakers and visitors year after year.
So close to Melbourne it’s virtually a suburb of that vibrant city, Mount Martha is also the gateway to some of the more intriguing sights and attractions on the Mornington Peninsula, that finger of land that is so much a part of Melbourne residents holiday plans that it’s known simply as “the Peninsula”. High on the cliffs overlooking the town are some exclusive and expensive residences but Mount Martha can also offer a terrific choice of holiday rentals for those keen to experience genuine Australian seaside life.
The 540ft high peak that gives Mount Martha its name is the highest point in the area and is named after the wife of one of the earliest colonists. Originally settled in the 1840s, the town made its name and money from farming and the original Briars farm has today been preserved as a historic park with an 1840s homestead and vineyard. Visitor tours reveal the story of how pioneers farmed the land and there is also a large wildlife reserve of wetlands and woodlands.
As one of the smaller towns on the Peninsula, Mount Martha is the ideal destination for those looking for a quieter, more scenic holiday. While the town has several safe swimming beaches, its rocky cliffs are more appealing to those keen on an active trip – walking tracks and viewing spots high on the cliffs offer beautiful views across Port Philip Bay, to Mount Martha and to Arthur’s Seat to the south.
For a bird’s eye view of some of the exclusive houses built on the hills above the town, take a drive along the Esplanade. This hilly, winding, coastal road, linking Mount Martha with Mornington to the north and Safety Beach to the south, offers stunning views of the bay to one side and those marvellous houses on the other. There are holiday rentals available in this beautiful clifftop area, which will make a quite stunning base for a holiday.
Balcombe Creek is an unmissable attraction for holidaymakers. Surrounded by an estuary boardwalk that stretches for several hundred metres, the Creek becomes a much wider body of water as it nears the coast and its birdlife will thrill nature lovers. It’s also a haven for boating and swimming, depending on the tides.
Higher up is Mount Martha Park, some 53 hectares of native bushland and walking trails. Here you’ll enjoy even more stunning views of the bay and Arthur’s Seat.
On Fossil Beach, between Mount Martha and Mornington, there are remains dating back 25 million years. This beach is one of only two exposed fossil plains in the world and is a fascinating glimpse into the very distant past of this ancient continent.
For a trip of a different kind into the past, the heritage Mornington Railway is a definite treat. The original Victorian steam and diesel engines pull passenger carriages on the 9km round journey from nearby Mornington to its base at Moorooduc.
A short drive inland from Mount Martha lie some of the Peninsula’s best wineries, known for their distinctive wines – there are more than 50 cellars that offer tours and tastings, an irresistible day out for any wine lover. It’s also an ideal opportunity to stock up on some of the local wines and take them back to your holiday accommodation.
Mount Martha enjoys wonderfully warm and hot days in spring and summer, with cooler temperatures in autumn and winter. Average summer temperatures are 25°C with winter days reaching no higher than 16°C. As a favourite holiday destination, the town is much busier during the warmer months but has enough attractions to make it a super place to visit at any time of the year and its holiday villas and apartments are available all year round.
UK visitors arriving in the state of Victoria will fly into Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport – there are direct flights available from several airlines from London’s Heathrow Airport and the journey takes around 22 hours. Mount Martha is 37 miles south of Melbourne and well served by public transport – trains run regularly from Melbourne to Frankston, just 11 miles away, with local buses providing connections. Collecting a rental car at the airport means you could be unpacking in your holiday accommodation within a couple of hours of touching down in Melbourne and is an appealing way to begin your Australian odyssey.