No matter where you live on the Peninsula, there’s something to do this Australia Day. Community events are taking place at beaches, parks and foreshores up and down the coast, and there’s even an opportunity to learn a little more about our region’s history.

In Mornington, Janet Groves of the Mornington and District Historical Society will take visitors on a guided walk through the town’s past via lower Main Street and the Esplanade, stopping at sites such as the Federal House, the Royal and Kirk Hotels, and the courthouse, built in 1860.

A long-time local, Janet’s family ties to the area go back centuries, with her great-grandfather, Thomas Allchin, settling there in the 1850s.

“My great-grandparents were Mornington pioneers,” she says. “They came independently to Australia.”

The couple met after their arrival, married in 1857, built a corner store on Main Street in 1859, and eventually built their now-heritage home, Sutton Grange, on Tanti Avenue, in 1878.

For Janet, the Australia Day tour is a wonderful opportunity for residents to connect more deeply with their home, calling it “a reminder of what Mornington used to be in the earlier days”.

“I think it makes them understand the place they’re living in,” she adds.

Tickets for the tour are $5 per person. Participants should head to the Old Post Office Museum, corner of Esplanade and Main Street, at 10.30am for an 11am start. The museum will be open until 4pm, so visitors can explore its exhibits post-walk.

Later in the day, a range of musical acts will perform at Empire Mall and Mornington Park. The latter will also feature free kids’ activities all afternoon long and fireworks will light up the night sky at 9.30pm.  

There’ll be similar parties on the Rye and Dromana foreshores. Over in Sorrento, the Sorrento Bowls Club invites families to play barefoot bowls and enjoy morning tea, while Portsea RSL is hosting a barbecue and live bands.

The Untold Events Co, Peninsula-based event planners led by husband and wife team Joel Vanessa Johnson, have thrown their energy behind a day-long festival at the Hastings foreshore reserve. It’s the Johnsons’ fourth year coordinating the Australia Day Foreshore Festival, and Vanessa says visitors can “expect a great community day with plenty to see and do”.

“Australia Day has always been a day we share with family and friends and we thought what better way to be a part of our community than to create a fun-filled, free day that allowed us to spend it with all types of families and friends on the beautiful Hastings foreshore!”

The fun starts from 9am, when the 1st Hasting Scouts start serving up a free egg-and-bacon sandwich breakfast. Some Emu Plains favourites will be setting up market stalls, there’ll be free children’s entertainment – including a giant inflatable maze, face painting and Aussie-themed crafts – and live music from the Westernport Regional Band, The Whisky Gypsies and Matt Katsis.

Australia Day ambassador Dr Bronwyn King, founder and CEO of Tobacco Free Portfolios, will address the crowd alongside local councillors at a flag raising ceremony.

For those who like their festivities served with exercise, Rosebud has two family-friendly fun runs, followed by a free community breakfast, live music and games for children.

The Mt Martha Lifesaving Club will also be hosting its annual Australia Day Swim – dubbed the MMAD swim – which has a range of safe, open water swims for all ages and abilities. It’s the club’s major fundraiser for the year and money raised will go towards a new radio room so lifesavers can better patrol the beach.

The 1.2 kilometre Yomojo swim is the main event, and others range from the 200 metre Nipper swim for kids, to the five-kilometre Engine swim.

Andrew Felsinger, MMAD swim coordinator, describes it as “a key community event on Australia Day on the Mornington Peninsula”.

For more information about Australia Day events happening around the Peninsula, visit mornpen.vic.gov.au

Live music from the Westernport Regional Band, The Whisky Gypsies and Matt Katsis.


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