Fort Nepean

Leave behind the beautiful coastal scenery, birds and wallabies, and descend into a murky world of  guns and warfare. Your kids will be thrilled to enter the underground tunnels, chambers and gun emplacements of a real fort. All around them, audiovisual displays bring the past back to life. The  voices of people who served here tell tales of defending the Victorian coast from the 1880s to the  1940s. In the depths of a dark tunnel, there is an ominous rattling noise – a recording of the sound a  ‘disappearing gun’ made when it was drawn down into a pit, to be kept secret from invaders’ eyes  until it was time to load and fire again.

Price range

FREE ENTRY; EXTRA COST FOR THE TRANSPORTER SERVICE

Contact details

Point Nepean National Park

End of Point Nepean Rd, Portsea; (03) 5984 6000
 

Don't Miss

■ Views of the notorious ‘Rip’ and Cheviot Beach from the lookout on Cheviot Hill. The ‘Rip’ is the  rough sea between Point Nepean and Point Lonsdale, one of the world’s most hazardous harbour entrances. It was from Cheviot Beach that former Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt,  disappeared in December 1967. He went for a swim and was never seen again; his body has never been found.

■ The Quarantine Station.
 
■ Swamp wallabies, echidnas and sea eagles, commonly seen throughout the park.

Fabulous Facts

In November 1852, a ship called the Ticonderoga was heading towards Australia with 300 sick  passengers on board. It was stopped at Port Nepean and the passengers were off-loaded and housed  in old lime-burners cottages. This was the beginning of the Port Nepean Quarantine Station. If you  visit the site today, you can still see the old quarantine buildings, and displays reveal what it was like to  live in quarantine. Guided walks of the station are available on weekends, public and school holidays;  (03) 5984 9222; www.nepeanhistoricalsociety.asn.au/quarantine.html

Insider Tips

■ Until 1988, Point Nepean was a prohibited area reserved for defence and quarantine purposes.  Now a national park, you can visit the fort and other interesting sites. Download maps and information  from the website, or pick up a brochure from the visitor centre.

■ A transporter service operates from the visitor centre, stopping at key sites around the national  park. It is best to book ahead to make sure you get seats.
 
■ Alternatively, you can ride a bike to each site. Bikes are available for hire from the visitor centre.  However, there are hills to negotiate and the route is shared with other vehicles.
 
■ There are steep ramps and steps inside the fort complex.
 
■ Walking tracks depart from each of the sites, and podcasts for each walk are available on the  website.
 
■ Weather conditions can change rapidly at Point Nepean so bring a range of clothes – from  weatherproof jackets to sunscreen and hats.
 
■ Obey all warning signs. Make sure your kids stick to paths and do not climb on any fortifications.  There could still be unexploded shells from artillery practice in the area, and cliff edges can be unstable. Swimming is forbidden around Point Nepean as the water is too dangerous.
 
■ There is no food available in the national park except from vending machines, so bring your own.
 
■ Toilets can be found at various locations.

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