Arthurs Seat, Victoria

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For other uses, see Arthur's Seat (disambiguation).
Arthurs Seat
Murrays lookout August 2014 rubbish and overgrown.jpg
View from Arthurs Seat towards Port Phillip heads
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
Suburbs 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 314 meters (1031 ft) above sea level.[3]

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 1973[4] and again in 1997.[5] The indigenous vegetation on the north-west face has been heavily infested with noxious weed and much of the natural vegetation has been cleared away, although several large stands still remain.[3]


The term Arthurs Seat was first applied to the mountain range, then to a squatting run, next to the pre-emptive right, then to land allotments in the area that is now the suburb McCrae, and currently to the suburb at the summit of the range.

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).[6]

Captain Matthew Flinders climbed Arthurs Seat on 27 April 1802, Noting in His log "The Bluff Mountain on the eastward I estimated at over 1000 feet high, and being near the waterside, possessed a favorable station for observation purposes. I accend the hill and took an extensive set of bearings from the cleared place to be found on the north western bluff part of the hill." another notable accent was in 1844 Sir John Franklin (former Governor of Van Diemen's Land) climbed Arthur's seat with Andrew McCrae (then owner of the McCrae homestead at the foot).[7] It was not until 1853 That a structure was placed on the summit, a trigonometrical station, for survey purposes. The station was burnt down in 1880, in 1883 a new light house was assembled in McCrae making the previously wooden structure redundant, so authorities decided to transport the wooden frame by bullock wagon to the summit for use as a lookout tower where it remained till 1934 when it was again replaced by another tower.[8]


The abandoned building at the base of Arthurs seat, now demolished . Arthurs Seat, Victoria, Australia. 2014.

In 1913 the Flinders Shire Council cut and formed a track for vehicles to the summit. In 1929 the track was re-surveyed, widened, reconstructed and continued to link up with Dromana-Flinders Road[7] The summit area Of Arthurs seat was not recognized as separate of Dromana/McCrae until it was subdivided by council in 1930.[10] before this recognition the sumit area as we know it today was titled "Dromana park"[11] or "Arthurs Seat Range" [12] in the southern area of subdivision survey maps from mid to late 1800's displaying the country lands in the parish of Kangerong (now Dromana)[13] The Garden of the Moon opened in 1931 and has brought tourism to the location from the very beginnings of its establishment. It offered attractions such as a dance hall, camera obscura, telescopes, swimming pool, fish-pond, hexagonal kiosk and wishing well.[14] The lookout tower opened in 1934.[15] And the 950 m long chairlift route was built in 1960, This added to the already well established tourist attraction, with an estimated 100,000 Chairlift users in 2002 according to the Mornington Peninsula Tourism Council.[16]

Tourism at the summit has been in decline since both the closure of the Chairlift in 2006 and the closure and subsequent removal of the lookout tower in 2012.[17] Chief executive Mark Stone of Parks Victoria called for "new modern infrastructure" in 2009[18] Development of new infrastructure was disputed and subsequently assesed at a VCAT hearing, VCAT allowing the application despite strong local concern put forward by Save Our Seat.[19]

Present day[edit]

Current 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 disrupted views of Port Phillip with the Melbourne City skyline and the You Yangs visible on the horizon on a clear day from some of the lookouts.[20]

View from the summit lookout of Arthurs Seat, Victoria, Australia. 2014.

The summit is connected to nearby Dromana by a winding tourist road which opened in 1929. The road provides access to the Dromana cemetery on the way to the summit. This hill climb in the past was used for the historic fathers day hill climb,[21] Local governance has allowed the loss of this not for profit community event to make way for commercial events like bicycle races.[22] Prominent viewpoints from the road include Bowens Point (145 m), Franklin Point (195 m), Murrays Lookout (247m), and Chapmans Point (274 m), Due to overgrowth at the higher Chapmans point, Murrays lookout is the best vantage point to view the peninsula itself.

Due to frequent vandalism the higher view points have had their Carved wooden signage (seen in photo) replaced by smaller metal signage in an attempt to lower maintenance.

The metal signage that replaced the wooden signage towards the summit in an attempt to reduce vandalism maintenance. Murrays lookout, Arthurs Seat, Victoria, Australia. 2014.

Resistance from local action groups [23] have stalled multiple projects planned for the summit,[24] putting pressure on existing tourism operations that have been closing [25] and moving interstate to seek more supportive community conditions.[26]

View from Murrays lookout, Arthurs Seat, Victoria, Australia. 2014.

The current occupation of housing is reflective of the locations original intention as a holiday destination with 40% of private dwellings listed as unoccupied.[27]

Walking tracks[edit]

Arthurs seat boasts an expansive network of marked and unmarked walking tracks. The large number of Bush tracks and open bush land can make navigating the officially marked tracks confusing at times.

Two bays Walking track[edit]

The two bays walking track runs the length of Arthurs seat state park from Bunurong Track to Waterfall Gully Road. The Entire track runs from Dromana to Cape Schanck and is the longest continuous track on the Mornington Peninsula and was first proposed as a part of celebrating Victoria's 150th Celebrations. Parks Victoria Does not recommend visitors attempt the entire track in a single visit, but instead to attempt smaller sections of the walk such as the Arthurs seat section.[28]

Kings Falls track & Circuit Walk[edit]

Kings Falls looking up

picturesque walk suitable for most levels of walker. The Kings Falls Circuit walk starts at the car park on Waterfall Gully Road. Initially the walk is along a dirt track but this changes in some places to a boardwalk with steps making it easy on the steeper sections. About 250 meters along the path is a lookout with a view across the valley where the waterfall is visible.[29]

Kings Falls, From high side.
Kings Falls, From low side.

TC McKeller Circuit Walk[edit]

Cook Street track[edit]

Sea Winds[edit]

Sea winds Gardens is a featured section of the park near the summit maintained by Parks Victoria and volunteers. Access to Sea Winds is via Purves Road a short distance from the summit.[30] Seawinds Gardens encompasses a 34 hectare area at the Summit of Arthurs Seat, 305 metres above sea level. The gardens offer spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas from the Bay and Northern Lookouts. The combination of indigenous and exotic formal gardens typifies the area.

A network of walking tracks guide visitors through a diverse range of exotic and indigenous gardens. The gardens are popular for picnics with tables, electric BBQs and toilets available adjacent to the car park. Disabled access is available to facilities and walking tracks.[31]


A chairlift at Arthurs Seat was constructed in the 1960s. However, it has not operated for many years.



Later years[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.[32] 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.[33] 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.[34][35]

On 16 May 2006 a mechanical failure stranded, but did not injure, about 12 tourists on the chairlift.[36] 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[37] before it could re-open, and three-monthly reports on compliance with Z-98 for two years. The operator was not convinced that the changes would mean greater safety so closed the chairlift to move the operation to South Australia With the current setup.[38]

Post operations of the original lift[edit]

In October 2009 Parks Victoria started looking for an operator to design, construct, run and maintain a new chairlift.[39] After some delay, Arthurs Seat Skylift (ASS) Pty Ltd took on the site and have submitted proposals for a much larger scale development that ignore the significant history and environment of this special place.

By early 2013, all pylons were removed and the top stations had been demolished.[40] The Arthurs Seat lookout tower was also demolished after many years of being unsafe to operate due to concrete cancer. Local residents are divided over the Arthurs Seat Skylift (ASS) Pty Ltd plans, who want to build and run a larger chairlift including night-time service. Many residents on surrounding communities remain unaware of the size and impact of the proposed Skylift development.

View of the physical summit of Arthurs Seat, Victoria, Australia. taken from the location of proposed Chairlift Summit station. This is the Telstra Arthurs Seat Radio Terminal which was built in the mid 1950s by the Post Master Generals Department (PMG) to link Melbourne with the Geelong Region and Mornington Peninsula, it is still used for Mobile Phone, Emergency Services and other radio communications along with other towers nearby owned by other groups.

Council decided in June 2014 to approve the plans put forward voting 5-4.[41] There were 22 letters of support from groups such as, The National Trust; Puffing Billy; Phillip Island Nature Reserve; Tourism Victoria; Victorian Tourism Industry Council; Western Port Tourism Inc.; Tourism & Transport Forum Australia;[42]

Construction works for the new chair lift and associated upper & lower complexes began during October 2015.


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Arthurs Seat (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Arthurs Seat". Gazetteer of Australia online. Geoscience Australia, Australian Government. 
  3. ^ a b "Australian Heritage Database". 
  4. ^ State Suburbs
  5. ^ "Parks Victoria". 
  6. ^ Ida Lee (Mrs. Charles Bruce Marriott) (1915), The logbooks of the 'Lady Nelson,' with the journal of her first commander Lieutenant James Grant., London: Grafton, p. 134, OL 6580132M 
  7. ^ a b "Attention!". 
  8. ^
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  10. ^ "Australian Heritage Database". 
  11. ^ "Attention!". 
  12. ^ "Attention!". 
  13. ^ "Suburban & Country Lands in the Parish of Kangerong near Athur's Seat, County of Mornington [cartographic material].". 
  14. ^ "Victorian Heritage Database". 
  15. ^ "History of Arthurs Seat". Archived from the original on 20 August 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2006. 
  16. ^ Andra Jackson, Michelle Wood (6 January 2003). "Chairlift closure may be permanent". The Age (Australia). Retrieved 27 November 2006. 
  17. ^ "Demolition News » Video – Arthurs Seat Tower demolished…". 
  18. ^ "Arthurs Seat landmark to get a lift". The Age. 
  19. ^ "Save Our Seat – Home page". 
  20. ^ Parks Victoria. "Arthurs Seat State Park". Archived from the original on 5 December 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2006. 
  21. ^ seat hill climb&searchLimits=l-australian=y
  22. ^ "Austin 7 Club". 
  23. ^ "No Cookies". 
  24. ^ "Arthurs Seat revamp to cost $18m". The Age. 
  25. ^ "News - Sad end to Arthurs Seat cancer-ridden icon". 
  26. ^ "News - Arthurs Seat chairlift: Removal works mark new beginning, owner...". 
  27. ^ "Suburb Demographics for Arthurs Seat(3936) Victoria -". 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Kings Falls Circuit Walk, Arthurs Seat, Mornington Peninsula, Sightseeing, Visit, Things to Do, Drives, Walks, Travel, Victoria, Australia". 
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  31. ^ "Seawinds Garden, Arthurs Seat Sightseeing, Visit, Things to Do, Drives, Walks, Travel, Victoria, Australia". 
  32. ^ "Australian chairlift collapse injures 18". BBC World. 4 January 2003. Retrieved 27 November 2006. 
  33. ^ "Arthurs Seat chairlift operators charged". The Age (Australia). 10 May 2005. Retrieved 27 November 2006. 
  34. ^ Victorian Workcover Authority (26 October 2007). "Consequences of chairlift safety failings ‘obvious’: judge". Archived from the original on 5 November 2007. Retrieved 3 November 2007. 
  35. ^ Jones, Kate (27 October 2007). "Chairlift owner fined for injuries". Herald Sun (Australia). Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 3 November 2007. 
  36. ^ Vanessa Burrow (16 May 2006). "Tourists trapped on chairlift". The Age (Australia). Retrieved 27 November 2006. 
  37. ^ [1] Archived 31 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "No Cookies". 
  39. ^ "Mornington Peninsula's Arthurs Seat Chairlift Tourist Facility For Sale : Real Estate Source Property and Realestate news". 12 October 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  40. ^ "News - Arthurs Seat chairlift: Removal works mark new beginning, owner...". Peninsula Weekly. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Development Assessments Committee Meeting 2014". 

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