St Leonards still proudly holds the reputation as being the sleepiest town on the peninsula, but it’s not longer completely comatose.
With bay views, sheltered beaches and superb fishing opportunities, St Leonards and its neighbour Indented Head has completed somewhat of a metamorphosis in recent times.
The two towns may lack the infrastructure of other town on the Bellarine, but that is part of the charm.
No swarming supermarkets or lines of cars queuing up for petrol at the bowsers, visitors can enjoy St Leonards and Indented Head in a similar vain of how people used to see Barwon Heads or Ocean Grove.
Still, there are enough quaint cafes to satisfy a coffee or cake craving and the beer garden of the St Leonards Hotel is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon on a warm and sunny day.
The wreck of the Ozone, the first paddle steamer to cross Port Phillip Bay, can be viewed from Indented Head’s main beach and a monument made of its anchor is located on the cliff-top beside the Taylor Reserve camping ground.
St Leonards is well known as a backdrop for the ABC Seachange series and many will recognise the local hotel from the television show. The hotel has a popular beer garden with views of swimmers and fisherfolk taking advantage of the local pier and is just around the corner from the main shopping area on Murradoc Road.
Most of St Leonards is surrounded by a salt marsh which is a major wildlife reserve. The marsh is a very important habitat for a wealth of birdlife in the region including pelicans, ibis, waterfowl and the endangered orange-bellied parrot. The Salt Lagoon covers about 50 hectares to the north and is a State Nature Reserve.
South of St Leonards is Swan Bay, a breeding ground for many species of fish and home to Duck Island which is part of the Port Phillip Marine National Park.
The Lower Bluff Wildlife Reserve overlooking Swan Bay protects the water and is home to an array of birdlife and small mammals and reptiles.
TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Fishing – squid galore from St Leonards jetty.
St Leonards Hotel – sharing a cold drink in the beer garden.
Ozone wreck – search for it off Indented Head’s shoreline.
Birdwatching – avian delight at the nature reserve.
The beach – find your own patch of sand.
You can snorkel the Ozone paddle steamer wreck – no need to take an organised dive.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Ozone wreck off Indented Head was built in 1886 near Glasgow, Scotland, and it regarded as one of the finest paddle steamers ever built.