Sorrento, Victoria

Sorrento is a coastal town in Victoria, Australia, located on the shores of Port Phillip on the Mornington Peninsula, about one and a half hours by car south of Melbourne. The first permanent European settlers in the area were the English, Irish and Scottish (many descendant Skeltons, Sullivan's, Watts, Clarkes, Morgan's, Keating/Siemering's still live in Sorrento and surrounding townships).

Sorrento Beach
Coordinates38°20′20″S 144°44′27″E
Population1,592 (2016 census)[1]
 • Density227/km2 (590/sq mi)
Area7 km2 (2.7 sq mi)
Location102 km (63 mi) from Melbourne
LGA(s)Shire of Mornington Peninsula
State electorate(s)Nepean
Federal Division(s)Flinders
Localities around Sorrento:
Portsea Port Phillip
Bass Strait Blairgowrie

It is thought that the name 'Sorrento' (after the Italian seaside town) was conferred upon what was known as Sullivans Bay when the first developer arrived in Sorrento in the 1870s.


In 1803, 30 years before the founding of Melbourne, Sullivan Bay in Sorrento became the site of Victoria's first mainland European settlement.

Due to a lack of fresh water the settlement was short lived and subsequently moved to Hobart in Tasmania. Victoria's first magistrates' court, public hospital, postal service and government printing office were established in Sorrento. The first Victorian wedding, christening and funeral services were held at Sullivan Bay.

The first settlement site overlooking Sullivan Bay includes graves believed to be of first settlers.

Sorrento Post Office opened on 10 January 1871; the current Sorrento Post Office dates from 1904-05 and is heritage-listed.[2]

A horse and steam powered tram which ran between the foreshore and the back beach opened in 1890 and closed in 1920.[3][4]

The town has a number of grand historic homes and hotels which date back to the 1860s, almost all of which have been constructed with local limestone. The Australia ICOMOS charter for the conservation of places of cultural significance in the practice of local heritage protection has listed 30 properties.[5] Mechanics' Institute, Sorrento was built in 1877 using local limestone and the building, which is now classified by the National Trust of Australia, houses the Nepean Historical Society's museum. Other notable limestone buildings still standing include: Sorrento Hotel (1872), Anglican Church (1875 nave, 1889 transept), Athenaeum Theatre (1894),[6] Continental Hotel (1875), Whitehall Guest House (1904). The Koonya Hotel and Morgans (both on the foreshore, currently known as Italico restaurant) were built by the Skelton/Clark family. The sandstone Presbyterian Church was built around 1880. Ophir House, opposite the Masonic Lodge, a miniature Whitehall, was replaced by contemporary units.

The Sorrento Park, established in 1870, contains a variety of trees, including an Aleppo Pine grown from the seed of the Lone Pine of Gallipoli.[7] Situated above the beach and overlooking the bay, Sorrento Park has a children's playground, BBQ facilities, and public toilets.


In the 2016 Census, there were 1,592 people in Sorrento.[1] 78.0% of people were born in Australia and 86.8% of people spoke only English at home. The most common responses for religion were No Religion 29.0%, Catholic 24.7% and Anglican 19.3%.[1]


The town has an Australian Rules football team, The Sorrento Sharks,[8] competing in the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League before winning flags in the PFA in 1929 and 1933, then the MPFL in 1935, 1953, 1964, 1969, 1979, 1980 then the MPNFL in 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011 (seniors and reserves) and 2012. Former St.Kilda footballer Troy Schwarze coached the four grand finals between 2008 and 2011, before Nick Claringbold took over for 2012 so Troy could follow his dream coaching St.Kilda's mid-fielders at their new facility in Seaford and on match days. Troy played with Sorrento in about 9 matches during 2012 when not required in the AFL, and the finals series. Ben McCormack took over the captaincy from Dave Lawson when Dave was appointed coach at Crib Point 3 years ago.

The Sorrento Cricket Club, coached by former Melbourne CC player and mystic guru Nick Davern, also known as "Tin Hat", competes in the Provincial Division of the Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association, having won the Sub-District in 1989/90 and 2002/03, District Division in 2005/2006. It also won senior premierships in the Southern Peninsula Cricket Association (1922-1965) six in succession between 1946/47 and 1951/52, under Bill Clark and Arthur Robertson (3 each), then again in 1955/56 under Jack Mullen and 1957/58 under Derek Minter. Its first and only Provincial First XI premiership was 1971/72 under ex-Northcote and Collingwood player Graham Burt. Forty years on, the seniors had their next opportunity in a Provincial Grand Final losing to rivals Baxter in 2011/12. Season 2012/13 looked promising with the inclusion of ex-Victorian batsman Nick Jewell who scored 3 centuries before the Christmas interval, going on to win the Club Championship with 706 runs and 7 catches, including an opening partnership with Jedd Falck of 205. Sadly, a second consecutive grand final appearance failed. In 2010/2011 Ryan O'Connor became the first player to win the W.B. Wedgwood medal for Sorrento but it didn't take long for the club to win another with Captain Anthony Blackwell winning in 2011/2012.

The original Macfarlan Reserve pavilion was erected in 1935 with a terraced grandstand upstairs. It was demolished and completely rebuilt in 1984 and re-opened as the Robert (Bob) Keegan pavilion in 1985. Several balconies have been added since. Plans exist to add a gymnasium when funds are available.

The Sorrento Tennis Club originally occupied the land beside the Museum and is a sunken garden today. It was relocated to its current site in the 1960s followed by the Scout Hall and fire track a decade or so later. Netball courts, a skate park and basketball stadium followed creating a single sports complex together with the lawn bowls rinks.

Golfers play at the course of the Sorrento Golf Club on Langford Road.[9]

Sorrento Cemetery

Dame Nellie Melba sang to raise funds for cemetery gates which rusted over time and were taken down and dumped at the tip where they were souvenired and used as a garden ornament. Notable interments include Federal Senator John Button, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, Vin Heffernan, actor Sophie Heathcote and Dame Zara Bate, the wife of former Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt who disappeared at nearby Cheviot Beach.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Sorrento (Vic) (State)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  2. Premier Postal History, Post Office List, archived from the original on 10 May 2008, retrieved 11 April 2008
  3. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, December 1960 pp181-185
  4. "The Sorrento Steam Tram", TMSV Running Journal, archived from the original on 20 February 2011, retrieved 28 November 2010
  5. Historic buildings
  6. Victorian Heritage Database place details
  8. "Sorrento Sharks Football Club - Sorrento, Australia - Home". Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  9. Golf Select, Sorrento, retrieved 11 May 2009
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