LOCATION SPOTLIGHT: VICTORIA’S MORNINGTON PENINSULA
Just an hour’s drive south of Melbourne, the peninsula has rolling hills, seaside villages, vast coastlines, picturesque wineries, and diverse period and modern architecture.
Mention the Mornington Peninsula to a Melburnian and they’ll be quick to tell you their preferred beach or favourite winery, but mention it to any of Victoria’s experienced location managers and they’ll respond with ‘whatever look you need, you’ll find it on the peninsula’.
“The Mornington Peninsula offers a great range of filming locations that have doubled as Italy, the UK and New Zealand as well as provided the backdrop for numerous local film and television productions. It’s a lovely part of the world – with great beaches, wonderful food and quite a few vineyards to explore.”
Tim Scott, Location Manager (and Mornington Peninsula local)
COASTLINES AND BEACHES
Sorrento and Diamond Bay
The Mornington Peninsula is a hook-shaped piece of land with a bay on one side and the ocean on the other, so the towns towards the tip of the Mornington Peninsula have two beaches – known fondly to locals as the ‘front beach’ and ‘back beach’.
In the popular town of Sorrento, the front beach has sand bars, jetties and small boats dotted amongst the clear, calm waters. The Sorrento back beach is wild and rocky, but its neighbour Diamond Bay has a small pocket of sand set deep inside the bay.
Sorrento front beach
Bushrangers Bay and Cape Schanck
Situated along the popular Cape Schanck bushwalk and accessible from agricultural fields that run down to the clifftops, Bushrangers Bay offers stunning views of a towering basalt coastline and tidal rock pools hidden amid a surreal volcanic landscape. Chosen by US director Spike Jonze as one of the key locations for Where The Wild Things Are, his live-action movie based on the popular children’s book, the bay has a mood and colour palette that changes depending on the weather.
Where The Wild Things Are at Bushrangers Bay. Image courtesy of Warner Bros
“To us, having the feel of a real environment—both for the actors as well as through the camera—was an important element. Most of the locations were about 45 minutes to an hour and a half from Melbourne, and they were all so extreme. The dramatic scenes took place in Bushrangers Bay.”
K. K. Barrett, Production Designer, Where The Wild Things Are
VINEYARDS AND HOTELS
Jackalope Hotel, Merricks North
The monolithic architectural exterior of this luxury boutique hotel takes its cues from the regional Australian agricultural shed, but it wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond film. Its black, metal-clad form, charred timber detailing and dramatic saw cut roof caught the eye of the team behind Australian-Chinese conspiracy thriller, The Whistleblower, when they filmed in Victoria in 2018. A 30-metre infinity pool and deck overlook rows and rows of vines that change colour through the seasons.
Morning Star Estate, Mount Eliza
The star of the Morning Star Estate is the grand Victorian-era property sitting atop rolling hills of vineyards, olive groves and orchards. Built in 1867 as a country getaway for a wealthy Melbourne family, the mansion’s slate roof, soaring chapel, grand ballroom and internal courtyards is reminiscent of old Europe, which is the reason why director Ariel Kleiman selected it as a key location for his 2015 underworld coming-of-age tale, Partisan, with French star Vincent Cassel in the lead.
Vincent Cassel on the set of Partisan at Morning Star Estate
PERIOD RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE
Due to its proximity to Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula has been a summer holiday destination for Melburnians since the late 19th century.
Once the Governor of Victoria’s Summer House, Beleura is an elegant Italianate mansion set amidst five hectares of gardens and features architectural elements from different time periods, giving it the ability to double for locations in the 1800s through to the 1970s.
Coolart Homestead in Somers was constructed in the Napoleon III style, or Second Empire style, and features a three-story tower with mansard roof and wraparound verandah with original lacework and tiles.
Heronswood is a Gothic revival-style house with gardens inspired by the French potager gardens.
Villa Mallorca is a little corner of Spain in Australia. This rustic Spanish-style villa with pool and sea views is set amongst an acre of Mediterranean gardens and terraces.
Beleura House & Garden, Mornington
Coolart Homestead. Photo Parks Victoria
Villa Mallorca, Mount Martha
MODERN RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE
The enduring popularity of the Mornington Peninsula as the place for weekends away and second homes, means it also has a vast array of modern architectural styles, from poolside mansions that wouldn’t look out of place in Beverly Hills to sleek modern ranch-style homes on acres of pasture.
The Fender House is a mid-century gem, with original wood-paneled walls and high ceilings, incredible views from every angle through the giant glass windows and a gently curving Palm Springs-inspired pool. Designed circa 1973 by Australian icon Karl Fender, this modernist marvel is set on 3.5 acres and nestled in amongst established palms.
Oakbank Road, Mount Eliza
Portsea Paradise, Portsea
The Fender House, Mount Martha
Point Nepean Quarantine Station and Fort Nepean
Located within the Point Nepean National Park is the Point Nepean Quarantine Station. A collection of 50 buildings, the centerpiece of this unique location is a handsome two-story administration building built in 1916. Filmmakers are also drawn to nearby Fort Nepean with its network of underground concrete tunnels, which the Partisan team used to full effect. All photos courtesy of Parks Victoria.
Point Nepean Quarantine Station
Point Nepean National Park
TRANSPORTATION AND ROADS
The Arthurs Seat Eagle is a state-of-the-art gondola that offers scenic views above the Mornington Peninsula and across Port Phillip Bay towards the Melbourne city skyline. On the ground, the Peninsula has some of Victoria’s most scenic drives, through rolling green hills and on curved roads along rugged coastline, as well as dramatic switchbacks. Seaside towns with wooden jetties and marinas full of small boats can be found the full length of the Mornington Peninsula.
Arthurs Seat Eagle
Dromana. Photo Mark Farr
Arthurs Seat Road