Bittern is a township on the Mornington Peninsula between Hastings and Crib Point. It is about 3 km from the coast of Western Port Bay and 61 km south-east of Melbourne. It was named after the wetland bird family of the same name, some members of which inhabit coastal mangroves and others inhabit swamps. Both landforms are present in and east of Bittern on the Western Port coastline.

The formation of the Bittern township came with the opening of the railway line from Frankston to Crib Point in 1889. The Bittern post office was opened in 1908. A general store (1912) and a public hall comprised the small farm community’s public amenities. In 1911 land was acquired near Crib Point for the Flinders Naval Base/HMAS Cerberus, and the prospect of a large defence establishment started a flurry of land speculation. Bittern, however, was too far afield, and its rural landscape remained unchanged. The railway station was used for carrying orchard produce and livestock and it was a junction for the Bittern to Red Hill line (1921-54).

In 1961 the industrial development of Hastings and Crib Point was announced and land south of the Bittern village was subdivided for residential use. It was based on an over-optimistic prediction of industrial growth, and 20 years later many of the subdivisions were consolidated. Rural/residential housing took up many of the sites, and some have been further consolidated as public reserves. The best example is Lorna’s Triangle, which preserves remnant bushland.

The Bittern Coastal Wetland takes in an extensive conservation area adjoining inter-tidal mud flats and mangroves. It has a pedestrian boardwalk from Hastings to Crib Point.

Bittern has a railway station, a school (187 pupils, 2014), a general store, a public hall, a recreation reserve and a retirement village. By the 2000s vacant blocks had been built on and a railway stopping place immediately south of Bittern was provided with a platform and shelter and named Morradoo.

Bittern’s census populations have been:

census date population
1911 148
1933 292
1947 265
1954 307
1961 384
2006 3146
2011 3378

At the 2011 census, technicians and trades workers accounted for 23% of employment, compared with 13.9% for Victoria.

Further Reading

R. Jaremovic et al, Conservation plan for the Bittern coastal wetland area, Shire of Hastings, 1992