You’ve decided to explore one of the greatest places Australia has to offer, the beautifully dreamy Mornington Peninsula. However, today you’re not here to sample the wineries, distilleries or cheeseries; you’re here to explore something new, something that inspires you to embrace the elements and swap the taste of luscious shiraz for invigorating sea air. From a runner’s perspective, here is what I believe are the Top 5 running locations around the Peninsula.
1. Point Nepean National Park (medium)
With sweeping views across both Port Phillip Bay and the rugged coastline of Bass Strait, Point Nepean offers an experience that can only be described as an Instagrammer’s dream. A run through here offers all the ingredients to make you want to come back every weekend. With numerous trails — from the flat, gravelled Coles track that weaves its way from Quarantine Station past the remnants of the former quarantine cattle jetty, to the long, undulating Defence Road, which gives you views of Cheviot Beach, where former Australian prime minister Harold Holt disappeared in 1967, and past Fort Pearce and Fort Nepean — you’re absolutely spoilt for choice. Ensure you find some time to explore the various historical features that line your journey towards the westernmost point of the Peninsula.
2. Greens Bush (medium)
Living up to its name, Greens Bush has an enormous variety of vegetation and wildlife. There are numerous trails to run on, from Baldry’s Short (1.6km) and Long circuits (3.6km) to part of the Two Bays Trail (8.9km), which you can extend past the exhilarating descent into Bushrangers Bay and across to Cape Schanck. You’ll traverse undulating sections of what seems like remote bushland and with a keen eye may even spot a koala. If you’re looking for a calming, invigorating run then you should hit somewhere green — and there’s no better place for this than Greens Bush.
3. Lifesaving Track — 16th Beach to Sorrento Back Beach (hard)
Part of the coastal walk that runs from Cape Schanck to Point Nepean, this section of trail offers a 10km stretch of picturesque, undulating and enriching terrain. Called the Lifesaving Track and built in the 1890s, its original purpose was to give better access to the coastline to assist with any shipwrecks. This run will take you past such sights as Dimmicks Beach, Bridgewater Bay and Diamond Bay. As a detour, I suggest taking the path to Spray Point, where in the right conditions you’ll be given an absolute spectacle as the waves crash on to the rocky ledge and set off a spray up to four storeys high.
4. Devilbend Reservoir (very easy)
This is an absolute hidden gem of a run. With an amazing 16km circuit, including the addition of a loop around the Bittern Reservoir, this run takes you around the largest inland water body on the Peninsula. This run is mostly flat, but includes some slight inclines and declines. If you’re lucky you might spot some waterbirds, shorebirds or turtles while taking in the beautiful scenery.
5. Red Hill Rail Trail (easy)
A hilly 6.5km one-way run that connects Red Hill to Merricks, this run gives you nice views across to Phillip Island and the Nobbies. It mostly follows the original railway that ran from Red Hill to Bittern, but most of that land is now privately owned. The surface can get a little rough at times, consisting of dirt, gravel, grass and crushed rock. An amazing part of the Peninsula, though, this trail is definitely worth a crack.
So why not make a trip down to this incredible part of the world and experience its beauty. After the run is done, don't forget to sample some of the amazing food and drink on offer at the local cafes, wineries, breweries and restaurants.
Matt Davy is the co-founder of online run coaching business Run2PB. Find out more at run2pb.co