This region will enthrall you with ancient indigenous culture, pioneering history and the landed gentry of the 19th century. Aboriginal history is well told at the Phillip Island Historical Society Museum in Cowes, while the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum is a contemporary space reflecting historic and modern life in this region.
Pioneer working farms still follow old traditions at the 1840s Gulf Station in the Yarra Valley and on Churchill Island, where restored historic buildings include Melbourne’s Mayoral holiday house from 1872. On the Mornington Peninsula, the humble 1844 McCrae Homestead gives another glimpse of pioneering life.
Stately homes include 1880s Mont De Lancey homestead in the Yarra Valley at Wandin; and on the Mornington Peninsula the1895 Coolart Homestead with bird-filled wetlands; 1863 Beleura, once a luxurious summer home; and the elegant Mulberry Hill, formerly home to artist Sir Daryl Lindsay and Joan (Lady) Lindsay, author of ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’.
Vintage train buffs delight in the 100-year old Puffing Billy steam train which chuffs through the Dandenong forests, the 40 minute heritage railway ride on the Yarra Valley Railway and on the Mornington Peninsula the historic trains chugging between Mornington and Moorooduc.
Military and marine history
Closed to the public for more than 100 years, Point Nepean has military history dating back to the 19th century, while the National Vietnam Veterans Museum near Newhaven on Phillip island recalls more recent conflict. At Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula, the 1859 lightstation still boasts its original beacon.