We visited Cape Schanck on our recent trip to the Mornington Peninsula and loved it.
The main aim of the visit was to see Cape Schanck Lighthouse, but we found so much more here. The picturesque boardwalk that cuts down the cliff, beautiful views over the sea and the striking Pulpit Rock, which was a favourite of mine.
Here is my tale of the visit, with some photos which will give you an idea of what to expect.
Walking the Trail & Boardwalk to Pulpit Rock
We arrived at the Cape Schanck Car Park (which is free) and followed the signs down towards Pulpit Rock. It was a gravel trail that was a little steep but nothing too strenuous.
The route we took was approximately the red line above, around a 500m walk to the top of the boardwalk.
Walking this way rather than heading straight to the famous Cape Schanck Lighthouse had its benefits as we got to see it pop its head over the tops of the hills, which felt like a fun way to discover it for the first time. Above was one of the photos I got from the path with the headland at the front and the lighthouse appearing over the top of it.
As you can see from this photo, the path wasn’t too steep, with thick, spiky gorse on either side. Mrs Sabbatical Guide had no troubles with the path even with Toddler Sabbatical Guide on her back! I of course was wrestling with the weight of a camera, very hard indeed.
Cape Schanck Boardwalk
We hadn’t done much research into Cape Schanck before arriving, so we were expecting the lighthouse to be the highlight.
In my opinion that isn’t the case.
At the end of the gravel travel, through a small gap in the gorse, the Cape Schanck Boardwalk opened up in front of us, clinging onto the side of the cliffs going down towards a volcanic gravel beach. You can see Pulpit Rock sticking out at the very back, the dark monolith appearing just behind the headland.
This photo was taken about halfway down (you can see the patch of red to the right of the photo before).
Whilst I have been working hard at becoming a better photographer this year I don’t think I quite managed to capture this. In the moment it felt like being in a Nevadan National Park, I got the colour if not the mood.
Do I need to say more than what the image above tells you? What a stunning view back up the cliff with Cape Schanck Lighthouse again showing itself over the top of the cliffs.
I’m always amazed by these boardwalks, the design and manpower to get them (and keep them) in place fascinates me.
The boardwalk ends at a rather ominous looking black beach, certainly not one for sunning ourselves on. I left the rest of the family and scrambled around the headland to get to my main reason for visiting – Pulpit Rock
I set up the camera and screwed on a neutral density filter with the aim of getting one of those ethereal slow shutter speed shots that you see on Instagram. It’s impossible to shoot at a slow enough shutter during the day to do this as the light would over-exposure the photo, so a neutral density filter (essentially a dark piece of glass) restricts the light to make it possible.
I had a good go, but I still feel I didn’t quite get it right. At 1030 in the morning it was probably still too bright, despite the filter, with a photo like this (as most are!) better taken at dawn or dusk.
Still, I was quite pleased, I feel like I got a decent composition and got the shutter speed right to deliver the effect in the water I was looking for. I’m still learning, so every time I bring the camera out I feel like I understand a bit more about its capabilities.
For those into this kind of thing, it was shot on a Fuji-XT3, with a 10-24mm lens at an ISO of 160, f14 and with a shutter speed of 3 seconds.
Oh, and if you want some tips on how to photograph this amazing sea stack, check out Andrew Robins Photography. He loves this place and has some practical tips (and example photos) of how to shoot in this spot.
Back Up The Boardwalk
We headed back up the boardwalk. You can see from the photo above that it’s a little steep, but it wasn’t too taxing. Again, I just love the way the greying wood looks against the sandstone with the ever-present lighthouse showing itself over the top.
There was a chance for one more photo of the boardwalk before we headed off, and I timed it perfectly with two ladies walking up towards us, one in a colourful shirt, the other with an umbrella up.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse
After wandering back up the track and past the car park we headed over the lighthouse which had been calling to us all morning.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse is the 9th oldest in Victoria (with the oldest being the Timeball Tower in my hometown of Williamstown) having been established in 1869. Amazingly it’s still working after all this time with the light stretching over 45km from the 21-metre tower.
If you’re coming just for the lighthouse it’s very close to the car park and an easily accessible walk. There are some old lighthouse keeper buildings here too, one of which has some displays that tell the history of the lighthouse.
As many lighthouses are, it is a magnificent building, with the white walls a striking contrast against the deep blue sky on a day like today.
We wanted to go inside, but a sign on the door suggested these were only running at the weekends, for the time being, so we didn’t get a chance to go inside.
I got this close up which looked great in black and white, with the sun star coming from behind the building. I have a sister Instagram account called BemmyNoir which is for my black and white photography if anyone is interested.
On the way back to the car we saw a small snake slip across the pathway, only my second in Australia and Becca’s first. Given we’ve been here three years now and we thought the country was dripping in them, it was a nice sight. It disappeared into the undergrowth and was completely hidden within a few seconds.
We got back to what was now a very warm car and headed on further up the coast to Flinders Blowhole, a stop off in Flinders town for some lunch and then finished the day at the fun Rain, Hayne and Shine Farm.
We enjoyed our time at Cape Schanck, with the boardwalk down to Pulpit Rock being the unexpected highlight that absolutely made the trip worth it.
I hope if you’re in the area you find the time to stop in and enjoy it as much as we did.
If you’ve ended up on this post you’re probably in Victoria so check out my complete guide to Victoria which is categorised by area of the state and has a free PDF download to enjoy.
I also have a sum up of everything we did in the Mornington Peninsula, so if you’re looking for more inspiration in the local area then check out ‘Mornington Peninsula Itinerary: A Complete First-Hand Guide‘