Shaped by 60 million years of weather and wild oceans, the basalt and limestone Cape Schanck (Tunnahan) stands at the southernmost tip of the Mornington Peninsula. Although it’s more of a tourist stop than a hiking trail, it’s well worth a visit, whether you’ve arrived for a longer hike to Bushrangers Bay or you just need to stretch your legs before heading back to the city.
The 21-metre-tall Cape Schanck Lighthouse will be a logical first stop, if you’re so inclined. Constructed in 1859 from local limestone, it was only the second lighthouse built in Victoria. It was restored during the 1970s, and visitors can now take a tour or visit the museum housed in the assistant’s quarters.
If you’re anything like me, though, Cape Schanck is beckoning. Take the track to the left of the Cape Schanck Kiosk, and you’ll soon come to the top of a staircase. You’ll want to pause here for a moment of stillness and take it all in – waves crash against the bluey-black basalt cliffs below, thickets of coastal scrub wave in the blustery ocean winds as honeyeaters flutter between them, and black-faced cormorants glide overhead. I even found some crazy surfers attempting to ride the chaotic waves below. Keep your eyes peeled for the yellow-nosed albatrosses that have occasionally been spotted. Some have even seen penguins emerging from the water onto the rocky beaches.
Brace yourself for the wind and continue down the steps to follow the boardwalk onto the cape – you’ll need to hang onto your hat. Along the boardwalk, you’ll find steps leading down to stony beaches, but be careful you don’t get wet. These seas are unpredictable. At the end of the boardwalk is the Pulpit Rock formation, which sits atop Devils Desk – if you’re a geology nerd, you’re going to love Cape Schanck.
Pause again to watch the waves crashing over the rock platforms, taking a moment to appreciate the power of nature. Then, it’s time to head back the way you came.
Need to Know
Length: 1.6 km
Time: 45 min min
Grade: Easy / Grade 2 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Park: Mornington Peninsula National Park
Closest Town: Flinders
Car Access: The walk is accessed via the Cape Schanck car park, off Boneo Road (aka Rosebud – Flinders Road). The turn-off is well-signed.
- Bushrangers Bay (via Cape Schanck) is a bit more on the challenging side (wait until you have to climb back up those steps from the beach) and features an incredible, secluded beach.
- Discover the Peninsula’s wartime history on the Point Nepean Walk (and its variations).
- Arthurs Seat offers many options for hikers, but the Arthurs Seat Circuit Walk is perfect for an afternoon out with the kids.
- The Tea Tree Creek Walk near Flinders leads walkers to another secluded beach.
- Baldry’s Circuit leads visitors through a lush patch of cool temperate rainforest at Green’s Bush.
- Or get the full low-down on Mornington Peninsula hikes.
Have you visited Cape Schank? Got it on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.
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