‘Arthurs Seat’ is a rocky granite outcrop that rises sharply from the surrounding landscape. The north-western face basically runs along the Selwyn Fault, which is still active, and also essentially marks the beginning of the limestone outcrop that extends out to Point Nepean. Sand dunes separating Port Phillip Bay from Bass Strait built up, and over millions of years, formed the limestone that is prevalent in the western extremity of the peninsula. It was only some 10,000 years ago that the Aborigines witnessed the sea re-enter the bay . . .
Though the summit of Arthurs Seat is only 305 m above sea level, the views are so incredibly large because the surrounding landscape is generally flat. On a clear day (which are becoming increasingly rare), Western Port, the Mornington Peninsula, Mt Dandenong, Melbourne, the You Yangs, Corio Bay, the Bellarine Peninsula, The Rip, Port Phillip Heads, Bass Strait – all the way down to Cape Otway can be seen.
Tourism at the Summit – A Brief Timeline . . .
The summit has been the location of many a tourist attraction, some of which were:
1853 The first trigonometrical station was built for survey purposes.
1880 Fire destroyed the trigonometrical station
1883 Part of the original wooden ‘McCrae Lighthouse’ was hauled up to the summit by bullock drays to be used as the very first viewing tower bestowing 360 degree views
1930 A kiosk situate on the south side of the road was opened, providing refreshments . . .
1931 The ‘Hollywood Inn’ – designed and built by architect Howard Radcliff Lawson – was opened as a dance hall at the site where ‘Arthurs Hotel’ now stands.
1934 The wooden lookout tower was replaced with an elegant concrete structure designed by George Brown, Shire Engineer.
1939 The ‘Hollywood Inn’ was re-opened by Howard Lawson as the greatly extended and refurbished ‘Garden of the Moon’:
” . . . A rendered brick and concrete building of whimsical appearance and Spanish Mission character, it included a cylindrical tower (with camera obscura), roof terraces (with telescopes and throne-like bench) and enclosed courtyard (with swimming pool, fish-pond, hexagonal kiosk and wishing well) . . . “
Source: Excerpt – National Trust – Victoria Heritage Database Place Details – Garden of the Moon & Peninsula Heights Residential Estate
1960 The 950 m long chairlift to the summit was opened sporting 74 chairs that could carry 222 passengers an hour on open, two-seater chairs
1960’s The ‘Garden of the Moon’ was greatly refurbished removing much of the original features and detail . . .
1970’s Sections of the ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Garden of the Moon’ attractions were closed due to structural issues – though the main building remains open to this very day as a restaurant
1980’s The Camera Obscura, pool, pond, wishing well were removed, and, the roof terraces concealed from the ‘Garden of the Moon’
16 May 2006 Chairlift Closed
12 Sep 2012 Concrete Lookout Tower Demolished:
20 Mar 2013 Chairlift Removed
Accessing the Summit – A Brief Timeline . . .
The steep incline ascending Arthurs Seat from Dromana meant access was generally approached from the east, however, there were a few early Europeans that tackled the steep north-western face:
” . . . I took an extensive set of bearings from the clearest place to be found on the north-western, bluff part of the hill; and we afterwards walked a little way back upon the ridge. From thence another considerable piece of water was seen, at the distance of three or four leagues; it seemed to be mostly shallow; but as it appeared to have a communication with the sea to the south, I had no doubt of its being Mr. Bass’s Western Port . . . “
Source: Excerpt – “A Voyage to Terra Australis” – Volume I – by Matthew Flinders – Chapter 9 – published 1814
1896 The first known European resident of the Arthurs Seat summit area was Mr James Chapman. He is purported to have carved out a track c 1896 to allow he and his family access to Dromana for work, school, provisions, etc. Mr Chapman worked as a gardener at the ‘Heronswood’ homestead situate just above the beach where Matthew Flinders first landed on the 27th April 1902. Mr Chapman’s home was a little shack located at the Northern Lookout from which he walked to and from work every day. Some of the oldest trees in Seawinds Gardens were planted by Mr Chapman, over 100 years ago . . . Interestingly, this track was forgotten until the devastating bush fires of 1997, when the original track made by Mr Chapman was revealed
Early 1900’s A rough track was cleared, which wound up the side of the mountain to allow better vehicular access to the summit
14 Dec 1929 The Arthurs Seat Tourist Road was opened by Lord Somers – a great improvement on the original rough track however it was still a narrow, dirt, steep and winding trail
1962 The road was vastly improved, widened and sealed, including lookout points placed along the winding steep climb for tourists to stop, take photos, and admire the breathtaking views:
Bowen’s Lookout – Elevation 145 m
Franklin Point – Elevation 195 m
Murrays Lookout – Elevation 247 m
Chapman’s Point – Elevation 274 m
A large car parking area has been provided directly at the ‘Summit’.
– Within Close Proximity to Town Centre – obtain Directions here
For Lists of Points of Interest relating to:
– Arthurs Seat Summit- click here
– For a northerly aspect view of Port Phillip Bay try the Northern Lookout also in ‘Seawinds Gardens’
Discover Arthurs Seat:
– Facilities available at Arthurs Seat include:
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- Public Toilets
- Mobile Data 3G - 4G
- Mobile Reception
- Walking Track
- Picnic Tables
- Rubbish Bins
- Off Street Parking
- Sealed Road