Arthurs Seat, Victoria

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For other uses, see Arthur's Seat (disambiguation).
Arthurs Seat
Arthurs Seat.JPG
View of Arthurs Seat from Rosebud Pier
Arthurs Seat is located in Melbourne
Arthurs Seat
Arthurs Seat
Coordinates 38°21′07″S 144°57′11″E / 38.352°S 144.953°E / -38.352; 144.953Coordinates: 38°21′07″S 144°57′11″E / 38.352°S 144.953°E / -38.352; 144.953
Population 373 (2011)[1]
 • Density 249/km2 (644/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 3936
Area 1.5 km2 (0.6 sq mi)
Location 72 km (45 mi) from Melbourne
LGA(s) Shire of Mornington Peninsula
State electorate(s) Nepean
Federal Division(s) Flinders
Localities around Arthurs Seat:
Port Phillip Dromana Dromana
McCrae Arthurs Seat Dromana
Rosebud Main Ridge Red Hill

Arthurs Seat[2] is a hill and locality on the Mornington Peninsula, within the Shire of Mornington Peninsula, about 75 km south east of Melbourne, Australia.

Arthurs Seat is a major tourist attraction, owing to its natural bushland, sweeping views and man-made attractions. The hill rises to 305 metres above sea level.

The underlying rocks are Devonian granite, bounded to the west by the Selwyn Fault. The vegetation consists of dry open forest of mixed eucalypt species, which was extensively burnt during a bushfire in 1997.


It was named by Acting Lieutenant John Murray when he entered Port Phillip in the ship Lady Nelson in February 1802, for an apparent resemblance to the hill of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh (which was his home city).[3] Captain Matthew Flinders climbed Arthurs Seat on 27 April 1802.[4]

The term Arthurs Seat was first applied to the mountain, then to a squatting run, next to the pre-emptive right and recently to a suburb. Andrew McCrae had the run for about 8 years until the Burrells took it over in 1851 and remained for about 70 years. They purchased the pre-emptive right of 640 acres, which extended from the McCrae coast to the park boundary at the south end of Cook St. In 1874, Samuel Smythe, a Flemington Bridge tanner established a wattle plantation on 80 acres but the venture was short lived. McCrae's Wattle Rd was probably the track taken by bark strippers.(Sources:A Dreamtime of Dromana, Wannaeue parish map, Rosebud Flower of the Peninsula, Ratebooks 1864–1920.) Lime burning was combined with subsistence farming by the pioneers west of Boneo Rd but for those near Dromana, timber provided an income stream. Isobel Moresby mentioned "The Slips" where timber was slid down Arthurs Seat to waiting ships.It is well known that there were rails at the various piers but Allan Ritchie's shire construction gang found evidence of another narrow gauge railway when they were constructing Latrobe Pde.They uncovered a section of rail, axles and wheels which a Latrobe Pde resident displayed on his front lawn for years. Old timers told Allan that the railway carried timber for the boilers of steamships on a gantry reaching the bay near the caravan park at the west end of Dromana.[5][unreliable source?]

In 1896, a rough track was made to the summit, and the first resident, farmer and orchardist James Chapman, settled on top of the mountain. A properly graded road was built in 1929 and the lookout tower opened in 1934.[6] The 950 m long chairlift route was built in 1960 and opened on 22 December 1960. It became a popular tourist attraction, with an estimated 100,000 users in 2002 according to the Mornington Peninsula Tourism Council.[7]

Chairlift problems[edit]

On 3 January 2003, a pylon tower supporting the chairlift collapsed, injuring 18 people and leaving 65 others trapped for several hours. Some of the passengers sustained neck and spinal injuries, although none were life-threatening.[8] A subsequent investigation found the chairlift had met all required standards and was regularly inspected, and safety and testing requirements were subsequently strengthened by the Victorian Government.

After the owner spent $500,000 on extensive repairs, it was reopened a year later, but on 18 March 2004 a second incident occurred when a chair came loose and a 77-year-old woman suffered two broken legs.[9] The ride was closed down by WorkSafe Victoria but was allowed to resume operations in October 2004. The owner was charged in May 2005 by WorkSafe under section 22 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act over the 2004 incident. After pleading guilty to failing to carry out adequate maintenance, the company was convicted and fined $110,000 in October 2007.[10][11]

On 16 May 2006 a mechanical failure stranded, but did not injure, about 12 tourists on the chairlift.[12] In August 2008 the company pleaded guilty to failing to take care of the safety of non-employees. It was not convicted, but ordered to pay $15,000 in costs and ordered to carry out a safety improvement project. This involved a range of works to bring it into line with Canadian chairlift standard Standards Council of Canada Z-98, an audit of safety[13] before it could re-open, and three-monthly reports on compliance with Z-98 for two years. The operator wasn't convinced that the changes would mean greater safety so closed the chairlift.

In October 2009 Parks Victoria started looking for an operator to design, construct, run and maintain a new chairlift.[14] After some delay, Arthurs Seat Skylift Pty Ltd took on the site and have submitted proposals for a much larger scale development.

By early 2013, all pylons were removed and both top and bottom stations had been demolished.[15] The Arthurs Seat lookout tower was also demolished (controversially) due to concrete cancer. Local residents are divided over the Arthurs Seat Skylift Pty Ltd plans, who want to build and run a larger chairlift including night-time service (campaigns by ABCD, who are pro-development, and Save Arthur's Seat, who oppose public land being used for commercial operations, and the increased scale). Council decisions on the development are due in June 2014.[16]

Present day[edit]

The attractions at Arthurs Seat include Arthurs Seat State Park (including "Seawinds" gardens), a maze, two restaurants and a car museum. The viewing area near the summit has extensive views of Port Phillip with the Melbourne City skyline and the You Yangs visible on the horizon on a clear day.[17]

The summit is connected to nearby Dromana by a winding tourist road which opened in 1929. This hill climb is used for bicycle races. Prominent viewpoints from the road include Bowens Point (145 m), Franklin Point (195 m), Murrays Lookout (247m), and Chapmans Point (274 m), the latter being the best vantage point to view the peninsula itself.

View of Mornington Peninsula and Port Phillip from Arthurs Seat Rosebud Pier in the midground


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Arthurs Seat (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  2. ^ "Arthurs Seat". Gazetteer of Australia online. Geoscience Australia, Australian Government. 
  3. ^ Ida Lee (Mrs. Charles Bruce Marriot) (1915), The logbooks of the 'Lady Nelson,' with the journal of her first commander Lieutenant James Grant., London: Grafton, p. 134, OL6580132M 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Source: Allan Ritchie, shire head of construction for 45 years from late 1950s.
  6. ^ Arthurs Seat Chairlift. "History of Arthurs Seat". Archived from the original on 2006-08-20. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  7. ^ Andra Jackson, Michelle Wood (6 January 2003). "Chairlift closure may be permanent". The Age (Australia). Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  8. ^ "Australian chairlift collapse injures 18". BBC World. 4 January 2003. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  9. ^ "Arthurs Seat chairlift operators charged". The Age (Australia). 10 May 2005. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  10. ^ Victorian Workcover Authority (26 October 2007). "Consequences of chairlift safety failings ‘obvious’: judge". Archived from the original on 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  11. ^ Jones, Kate (27 October 2007). "Chairlift owner fined for injuries". Herald Sun (Australia). Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  12. ^ Vanessa Burrow (16 May 2006). "Tourists trapped on chairlift". The Age (Australia). Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ "Mornington Peninsula's Arthurs Seat Chairlift Tourist Facility For Sale : Real Estate Source Property and Realestate news". 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Parks Victoria. "Arthurs Seat State Park". Archived from the original on 5 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 

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