Fort Nepean, located on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula a short drive away from the state’s capital city, Melbourne, was the location of the British Empire’s first shot in World War I.
Today Fort Nepean National Park is located at the end of the peninsula past Sorrento, Victoria, a stone’s throw across Victoria Bright from Queenscliff.
Cannonfire erupted on the morning of August 5, 1914, as Australian batteries located at Queenscliff spotted the German SS Pfalz exiting Port Philip Bay, minutes away from entering the open sea. This was no easy task for the German ship, and visitors today can easily understand with one look at the raging currents which still dominate the strait to this day. From your vantage point at Port Nepean National Park, you can still see currents dominating Victory Bight.Picturesque today, I had a hard time imagining what it would like to be on the front lines of the war to end all wars during the winding coastal drive that took me to the cliffs in Portsea and Queenscliff. Once bustling with British troops as a key position to defend Australia’s second-largest city from attack, the site is now a park which offers picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean. On sunny days you can also see Melbourne’s skyline peaking out from the haze.
While not officially a part of the Great Ocean Road, I highly recommend a stop at Fort Nepean National Park before you begin the epic coastal drive across Victoria. After checking out the historical sites, you can hop on a ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff on the other side of Victoria Bright and begin your road trip to the West.