St Leonards used to be a small, selective resort whose Port Phillip Bay fish, calm cruising and sailing waters attracted laid-back family holidaymakers to the east coast of the Bellarine Peninsula.
All that changed when the producers of what was destined to become Australia’s most popular, modern television series decided to shoot Sea Change in and round the village 115km south of Melbourne.
However, now that the final episode of the Sigrid Thornton-dominated series has come and gone from our screens, life is gradually returning to normal and regular summer visitors are rediscovering the beach and the fishing holes, the Esplanade memorial recording the landfalls of Matthew Flinders in 1802 and John Batman in 1835, and the varied species of birdlife and picnic corners of the Edwards Point Wildlife Reserve.
New tourists will find St Leonards and its charms 11km south-east of Portarlington. A visit to the Edward Point and Duck Island State Fauna Reserve to the south of St Leonards could be rewarded with a glimpse of the rare and endangered orange-bellied parrot which is a native of Tasmania but prefers to winter over on the shores of Port Phillip Bay.