Sorrento Heritage

Streetscape transformations and transgressions: A study of main-street changes in the historic coastal town of Sorrento. 

This project presents an interactive web application to engage with the story of place. The application maps the main street of Sorrento, Ocean Beach Road, to identify significant precincts, buildings and landmarks, tell their history and document how they have changed over time.

Main streets play an essential role in a town’s prosperity, culture and sense of place. It is a public space that is shared by a wide variety of people and sustains a range of activities that facilitate public interaction and foster community. The buildings that form part of the main street help to underpin the town’s historic character and contribute significantly to its scenic quality. They also provide a measurable indicator of change.

Through field and archival research this project identifies, documents and analyses changes that have occurred in the main street of Sorrento from 1870 till today, with a view to gaining a deeper understanding of how such change has altered the character of place. A current inspection and photographic survey of main street character has been conducted to facilitate comparison between past and present conditions. Architectural style and quality, heritage significance, visual amenity and socio-cultural value of the street and its buildings are considered.

This web application has the following objectives:

• Create an appreciation of change over time

• Enhance awareness of the heritage values of the historic coastal town of Sorrento

• Capture local knowledge and stories


• Link Sorrento bay side with Sorrento back beach via the spine of the main street

• Promote local business

• Foster community pride and increase the main street’s social capital

• Encourage pro-active conservation and presentation of the main street


• Provide a tool for the management of change so that new development can progressively add value to the built environment

INVITATION: To that end we invite YOU to use the website on your mobile device to walk, wander and ponder. We invite your engagement. Send us your stories, photos and memories of Sorrento. We have tried to ensure that the information is accurate, and copyright is acknowledged.  We invite feedback.

If you would like to share your stories or photos, or for any feedback, please contact us HERE.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks go to the Mornington Peninsula Shire for a 2013 Community Arts and Culture Grant and the Nepean Conservation Group Inc for matching the funding. This has made possible the establishment of the website. Thank you to Ben Maher, Kwik Kopy Clayton, web designer.

Thanks go to the Nepean Historical Society Inc Archives for research support and permission to use photographic material from their extensive collections; SLV and NL.

The research forms part of the Australia Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant LP110200787: ‘Sea Change’ communities: intergenerational perception and sense of place.

Researcher: Dr Ursula de Jong, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria.

Research Assistant: Brandon Gardiner, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria.

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