There is a small section of the Mornington Peninsula coastline, where Sorrento crosses into Portsea, which seems beyond the reach of most of us, accessible only to the rich and fortunate enough to have secured property along some of the most valuable land in Victoria.
Except that it is wonderfully accessible – to everyone – via a spectacular little track known as Millionaires Walk; and I can’t believe that in my 30 years of visiting Sorrento nobody told me about it!
At face value ‘Millionaires Walk’ is a delightful, slightly cheeky, name for a track that passes by a string of multi-million dollar properties. Yet for such a short walk – about 1.6 kilometres long – it is rich in history and culture, let alone the priceless bay views, lush flora, potential fauna sightings, and the chance to quietly peruse some highly-priced private architecture. It actually feels as though you may be trespassing at certain points, such is the intimate nature of the walk along front lawns that would likely be closed in by high fences in a suburb like Toorak.
From Sorrento, the path starts at the end of Lentell Avenue, about a kilometre from Sorrento Park. A fence runs all the way along the road to the cliff’s edge, where wooden stairs lead you down to a long jetty, so it is easy to think you’re in the wrong place; that you should turn around and head back.
The passage through an innocuous gate to access the walk heightens the sense that you are stepping into someplace exclusive and special. There is minimal signage but the path is easy enough to trace; just follow the magnificent coastline.
The views out over Port Philip Bay are immediately striking. On a sunny day you can see clear across the bay to the Bellarine Peninsula, the Melbourne CBD and even Mount Dandenong.
To call this a ‘pleasant walk’ would be like calling Sorrento a ‘nice little town’. On one side, elegant houses with beautifully landscaped gardens; on the other, a low shrubby cliff dropping down to rows of boat houses and private jetties that stretch out through the shallows of a bay glistening like a newly minted dollar coin. And here I am standing wondrously in the middle, swinging my gaze between the two.
But we must keep moving.
Evidently, many have walked these steps and been inspired. Millionaires Walk makes up a small part of the Sorrento Portsea Artists’ Trail, with four of the fourteen sites that comprise the trail located along Millionaires Wall. Paintings by Sir Arthur Streeton, Arthur Boyd and Ray Hodgkinson are displayed along the walk. The natural landscape hasn’t changed dramatically, but these displays allow for an attempt to interpret the artists’ appreciation of the space and compare it to your own.
The panoramic view out to the bay stays much the same throughout the walk, though is always gently moving and any activity on the beach or on the water seems distant enough to be just another part of the constant, peaceful motion.
At the end of the walk we reach yet another gate, as if stepping back out of this paradise – yet there it remains, just below. Here stands a white trig station and stone monument, marking the place where Acting Lieutenant John Murray, commander of the HMS Lady Nelson took possession of Port King – later named Port Philip Bay – in 1802.
This is the location of two displayed paintings, one by Boyd and one by Streeton, each offering a representation of the view back towards Sorrento.
An undulating track on well-maintained, mostly natural surfaces, Millionaires Walk is a fairly easy stroll, suitable for all-ages and popular with local seniors’ walking groups.
Limited parking is available at both ends in Point King Road and Lentell Avenue, or you can extend the walk by starting and/or finishing at the Sorrento Information Centre or the Sorrento Beach Rotunda.
However you do it, it is well worth taking the time to discover this richly rewarding walk.