Clark’s Cottage / Mornington Hotel / The Koonya Hotel

Address:1 The Esplanade
Suburb:Sorrento

Built as the Mornington Hotel in 1876, the Koonya has had a mixed history. The original building survives today as the corner piece of a large accommodation (apartments and motel style) and entertainment precinct. It began as a humble, solid limestone building on the foreshore to accommodate visitors. The Mornington Hotel (later the Koonya Hotel) was constructed for John Boswell Clarke in 1876 and remained in the family until 1952 with the Clark family having ran the hotel and lived next door.  It gained a verandah and balcony in 1913.  The site was redeveloped through the decades. 

In the 1990s the then Flinders Shire sold the steeply sloping land behind the hotel and developers applied to build on the land.  In 1994-95 it was proposed to build 2-storey buildings at the top end of the site, opposite Stringers Store, which effectively blocked any views from the town to Port Philip Bay. The unanimous community view was that this proposal should be rejected. In 1997 the developer agreed to sell half the land and contribute $70k towards the establishment of the public park. The community set up a public appeal.  By September 1998 the triangular piece of land was transferred to the Mornington Peninsula Shire, protected by covenants requiring the Shire to preserve the park as a public facility for all time. In the meantime the development had grown to include 35 detached or semi-detached houses plus 14 motel units, with the original Hotel on the corner retained. At this time the Koonya was in an almost ruinous state. The Koonya development was approved in 1999. The park was named ‘The Park at Stringer’s Corner’. Construction of the $20m development began in February 2001. The first residents moved into their luxury apartments in 2003. The park took a little longer to establish, but it is now a well vegetated, much used public place with magnificent views over the Bay and splendid views of the Continental Hotel.