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Mount Martha

(3934, 53 km S, Mornington Peninsula Shire)

One of three low mountains visible from Port Phillip Bay on the Mornington Peninsula, Mount Martha was named after Captain Lonsdale's wife by officers of HMS Rattlesnake in 1837. In the late 1830s it attracted pastoralists establishing large sheep stations, while timber fellers began clearing the slopes. A wooden tower was erected on Mount Martha summit in the 1850s to aid the trigonometric survey of the peninsula. Although pastoralism survived at Mount Martha until the mid-20th century, the 1870s saw wealthy Melbourne residents built holiday homes. In 1889 the Mount Martha estate was subdivided as an elaborate seaside estate with the Mount Martha Hotel at its centre. By the 1930s a number of guesthouses catered to holiday-makers and, during World War II, accommodated Australian and US servicemen. In the 1950s and 1960s several more estates were subdivided, mainly for holiday homes, and Mount Martha consolidated its image as a seaside resort town. By the end of the 20th century it was popular with retirees, and the suburb features a number of aged care facilities.

Jill Barnard