Forty kilometres south of Melbourne, Frankston might be regarded as the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula and its resort and fishing towns and wineries, but, in its own right, the bayside city has quite a lot to offer the visitor.
The Frankston stretch of the Port Phillip coastline includes a number of safe swimming beaches and a pier just made for an idle fishing line or an appetite-sharpening stroll. Kanahook Creek adds another attractive dimension to the foreshore area.
Laid out in the style of a French farmhouse, Ballam Park Homestead was the first brick home in the area. Built for William (Frank) Liardet between 1847 and 1854, the home presides over a 26ha estate that still displays a period buggy, blacksmith’s forge and farm machinery.
You'll find another National Trust gem a few kilometres south of Frankston on the Mt Martha shores of Balcombe Bay. A pastoral homestead, The Briars was built in 1843 for Alexander Balcombe, who was born on St Helena and was reputed to have been a friend of Napoleon. The connection with the Little Corporal is strengthened by a claim that the homestead's surviving furniture includes a table used by Napoleon while writing his memoirs on the Atlantic island where he died in exile in 1821.