McCrae is a residential bayside suburb on the Mornington Peninsula between Dromana and Rosebud. It is 59 km south of central Melbourne.
McCrae was named after artist and diarist Georgiana McCrae, from the Arthurs Seat pastoral run (1844-53), or possibly her less well-known husband, Andrew. Arthurs Seat is a granitic rise with a summit 304 metres above sea level, emerging at the shoreline as a small rocky headland known as Anthony's Nose. It separates McCrae from Dromana. (Arthurs Seat was named by Lieutenant John Murray in 1802 because of its resemblance to a similarly named landmark in Scotland.)
Apart from the McCrae homestead (1844), an early structure built at McCrae was a light tower for vessels on Port Phillip Bay (1854). It was replaced in 1883 by the present Eastern Lighthouse, which is on the Victorian Heritage Register. It is the McCrae homestead, however, which is the pre-eminent historic structure, being listed on the Australian and Victorian registers and furnished with McCrae possessions and memorabilia. The detached kitchen has also been restored and the site is maintained by the National Trust.
During the 1930s ribbon development along the Point Nepean Road led to a locality being named Dromana West. Its post office (1937) was renamed McCrae in 1941, from when dates the locality of McCrae. Broadbent's guide to Mornington Peninsula (1949) recorded a real estate agent and the Lighthouse store and post office at McCrae, and camping areas along the foreshore were thronged during the summer holidays.
During the 1950s residential housing was built in McCrae and on the slopes of Arthurs Seat.
McCrae has shops near the lighthouse and a drive-in shopping plaza, a foreshore reserve with camping and picnic areas, a yacht club and the Rosebud-McCrae Life Saving club.
McCrae's census populations have been:
In 2011 on census night 43.3% of dwellings were unoccupied (ie holiday houses).
Arthurs Seat: the McCrae Homestead 1844, National Trust of Australia (Victoria), 1972
Arthurs Seat entry