We have been to and explored many fabulous locations along the Victorian Coastline in the last 12 months, we still have a little way to go; but another to cross off the List is the Western Port Bay area of Hastings, Bittern and Somers. Essentially still part of the Mornington Peninsula, just a little further along the coast. We visited the region recently on a very pleasant Spring Sunday, we dropped in for a visit to Coolart Homestead and Wetlands, followed by the Bittern Sunday Market, and then lunch at the Hastings Marina.
A Brief History
Coolart is derived from the traditional Bunurong Aboriginal name for Sandy Point. During the European settlement of the area a pastoral lease was taken up in 1839 by the Meyrick Brothers. The property was used for various farming endeavors including; crops, sheep and cattle. It was then purchased in 1895 by Frederick Sheppard Grimwade, when the Homestead was built as a Family’s country retreat. Eventually after changing various owners, it was eventually sold to the Victorian State Government and declared a wildlife sanctuary, which included the development of the wetlands. Parks Victoria took over the management of the property in 1996, and is advised by the Coolart Wetlands and Homestead Trust. Coolart’s land and buildings are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Coolart Homestead, located in Somers, is a large two-storey brick house, with a third-storey tower and several outbuildings. There are some beautiful, well maintained gardens and there is a large wetland area, as well as a large lake, complete with bird hides. There are also areas of woodland and farmland. The wetlands are home to a breeding colony of over 1000 ibises, we also saw a few ducks, some cormorants, various bird species and apparently koalas inhabit the woodlands (We did not see any). The Homestead itself was closed the day we visited, but apparently it is open occasionally to walk through.
I guess it was lovely to stroll the grounds and look inside some of the old buildings, however it is obviously more of a bird lovers paradise…….we are not really avid bird watchers, so we really were not there that long, one to one and half hours is probably more than enough time to wander the grounds. Entry to the main gardens is free.
After our very nice stroll around Coolart, we briefly visited the Bittern Sunday Markets, with the usual trash, treasure, crafts and food to be found at most country (and some urban) markets. We then drove to the Hastings Marina to enjoy some fresh produce for lunch and a walk along the boardwalk. Tide was out, but I still played with a few filters and grabbed some images of kids at the skate park.
Til next time, happy snapping