Ventnor is a rural and residential district taking about 30% of Phillip Island at its western end. It is 80 km south-east of central Melbourne. It was named after Ventnor on the south coast of the Isle of Wight.
Ventnor was the place where Phillip Island settlers, the McHaffie brothers, took up a pastoral leasehold in 1842. They are remembered by McHaffie Lagoon, the site of their homestead, and McHaffie Point. In 1868 much of the McHaffie leasehold was replaced by farm selections. Town lots at Ventnor were also sold, but within a decade many had been bought up and consolidated for rural use. Consolidation of some failed farms also occurred.
The population declined in the 1870s-90s, and the whole of Phillip Island did not regain its population in 1871 until over 40 years had passed. In 1915 a school opened in the Ventnor public hall, and a departmental building was constructed in 1922.
In 1927 another lot of subdivided land was offered at Ventnor, known as the Grossard Point estate (another name for McHaffie Point). There were 227 blocks, but sales must have been weak because the estate was reoffered in 1963 which was toward the end of Phillip Island’s 1950s-60s land sale boom. Most houses built there were for holidays, and the declining number of families with children led to the school closing in 1964.
Ventnor is mostly grazing land. There are remnant patches of indigenous vegetation adjoining the coastline, a large common off Ventnor Beach Road and a general store and caravan park in Ventnor Road.
In 2012, after several years of agitation, owners of 23 hectares of Ventnor farm land persuaded the State Government to rezone it for housing. It was against the wishes of the Shire Council. Under pressure from Liberal Party connections the Government reversed the decision, although other party connections had been behind the original decision.
Ventnor’s census populations have been:
At the 2011 census, there were 1073 dwellings and on census night 320 were occupied. Most of the others were holiday houses.