The coast examined in detail
This book is a guide for readers who are curious about what they see along the coast. What are the animals and plants that live along the shore? How were the rock layers in the cliffs formed? What was this place like 150 years ago? Who used this decrepit jetty?
The core of the book takes a journey around the coast, beginning on Mornington Peninsula's ocean shore at Point Nepean then heading east towards Flinders. It covers all of the Western Port coast around to San Remo as Well as the shores of Phillip Island and French Island. This 320 kilometre shoreline offers a variety of scenery, from the magnificent cliffs of Cape Schanck and Cape Woolamai to the quiet backwaters at the top of Western Port.
Just seventy kilometres from Melbourne, French Island can feel almost as remote as the outback, while nearby Cowes on Phillip Island is abuzz in the summer.
An introductory chapter gives a brief overview of early history relating to the coast. There are traces of thousands of years of Aboriginal occupation of the area. You can tread in the footsteps of explorers like George Bass and early French navigators, and see the site of Victoria's second prison settlement at Corinella. You may be interested in remnants of early industries including salt making and granite quarrying, and tourism hot spots of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries like Sorrento and Flinders.
Most of the rock outcrops around Western Port are geologically young, but Cape Woolamai is formed from Devonian granite around 370 million years old. The chapter on landforms will point out these granites, as well as the solidified lava of volcanoes and sedimentary rocks deposited by ancient rivers and seas.
Western Port is renowned for its wildlife and there are wonderful places where nature thrives. Visitors come to Phillip Island especially to see little penguins, seals and thousands of nesting short-tailed shearwaters. Almost all of the waters of Western Port are protected for migratory wading birds which feed on its vast mud flats. Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary, and French Island, Yaringa, Churchill Island and Port Phillip Heads Marine National Parks protect many kinds of sea and shore creatures. Belts of mangroves and wide saltmarshes may seem unappealing at first, but they will reward any efforts you make to appreciate them. The pictures in the chapter on animals and plants will help you to identify the species you are most likely to see.