Arthurs Seat Road is a brilliant drive if you're a lover of tight corners, although as we found out, a muscle car on a rainy day is far from the best way to experience it.

The Mornington Peninsula is one of my favourite parts of Victoria to visit with its stunning coastal vistas from all directions, rich bushland, and, oh yeah, some proper speed limits.

With many of its roads allowing you to really put the hammer down in a straight line and hit triple digits – the road between Flinders and Cape Schanck is a great example as there’s a couple of nice corners thrown in-between the straights – it seemed like the perfect place to head while I was over there a few weeks ago to put the stunning Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 through it’s paces.

Having 477kW and 881Nm at my disposal, a run around the Mornington Peninsula was the perfect place to finally explore the realms of its upper rev range as I finally escaped Melbourne traffic, and certainly, on some of the lovely smooth and straight bits of tarmac, I was able to let it do what a muscle car does best.

But while the drive around the southern end of the peninsula was great, it wasn’t really worthy of an Essential Drives article. There was one road near Mornington, however, that was worth shouting about here and that’s Arthurs Seat Road.

If you like tight hairpins and brilliant views, this will be the road for you, and as a big fan of both things (surprise, surprise) I can certainly attest to that.

While the entire Arthurs Seat Loop is around 20km in total and a lovely drive throughout with most of it consisting of a nice relaxing scenic cruise, its the initial uphill climb – or downhill ascent, depending on which way you’re heading – by the cable car base station that is what makes this drive worth writing about.

A string of 10 fabulous hairpin bends lay in quick succession – the whole run will take just a minute or two, although you’ll want to go up and down again and again as I did – which on the uphill will allow you to really push your cars handling package to its limits due to the sharply-cambered nature of most of the bends, while heading downhill allows you to see out over the bay at Port Phillip.

Well, at least it does in theory. Although the photo on the left below taken from the Mornington Peninsula tourism website shows such a stunning view – coincidentally with a Chev in shot, too – the image on the right is what I saw.

That’s right – Melbourne weather hit hard. Although it had been a cloudy but fairly dry day earlier while having a stunning lunch at Portsea, and there’s been two bright and sunny days before it, the heavens opened the second I hit this stretch of road I’d planned on photographing. With my flight home booked for the following day, there were no repeats here, so what I saw was what I got. That is to say, a vague idea of just how brilliant a view it would have been, but with a haze of fog making it appear like a 144p YouTube video in real life.

The weather wasn’t just a problem for photos though, as it was also a problem given the car I was driving. With 640 imperial horsepower at my right foot’s disposal, all of which was going to the rear wheels alone, calling the Camaro a handful on such a road in such conditions would be an understatement.

Although the speed limit was set at only 60km/h on this stretch, I was barely able to do it as the Camaro wanted to spin all its power away with even the lightest brush of my foot against the throttle. Although I was able to get the impression that it would have been brilliant through these tight bends in the dry as its lateral grip was excellent and its steering was tight and direct, it was still about the worst possible car to be in given the conditions of the day. A shame, then, since it looked rather good powering up and down this brilliant road.

If I was to drive it again, something like a hot hatch or anything with all-wheel drive is what I’d rather go for as such tight corners would probably play into the hands of something with a shorter wheelbase better than it did the oversteer-y Chev.

But even in such an inappropriate car for the weather that did its best to try and spoil the view, this road was still an absolute blast to drive. Its tight banked corners and the awesome views – even if they were dulled by a haze of fog – make it worth going slightly out of your way for a few minutes if you’re in this part of the world. Especially so if the sun is shining.

Patrick Jackson
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