Mornington Peninsula Holidays
Just a 1-hour drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a favourite getaway destination for Melburnians. But, as hard as they’ve tried, the locals haven’t been able to keep this 45-kilometre stretch of coastal paradise a secret. People come from far and wide to visit the region’s famed wineries, wander through its national parks and manicured gardens, surf its waves, tackle its golf courses, indulge at its spas and enjoy its beaches, which are, of course, lined with picture-postcard bathing boxes.
Lose yourself, quite literally, in the magic of the gorgeous evergreen hedge maze that is Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Farm. A winding labyrinth of perfectly manicured paths, it’s an ideal afternoon of fun for children and adults alike. Other highlights include the world’s oldest circular rose maze and a beautiful sea of lavender plants that flower all year round.
Soak your way to the ultimate state of relaxation at Victoria’s first natural hot springs centre, Peninsula Hot Springs. Natural thermal mineral waters from deep underground flow into communal outdoor pools and private bathing areas, which are nestled in coastal bushland. The prized hilltop pool rewards bathers with panoramic views across the peninsula.
For those keen to experience the great outdoors along the peninsula, head to Point Nepean National Park. A spectacular place to cycle (bikes are available for hire on-site) or stretch your legs on the walking trails, this rugged national park takes up residence on the tip of the Mornington Peninsula and overlooks Port Phillip Bay and Bass Strait. Not just a place of natural beauty, Point Nepean National Park is famed for its historic landmarks, which include military forts and tunnels and an old quarantine station.
The Peninsula, as it’s affectionately known by the locals, is a food and wine lover’s paradise. At almost every scenic turn you’ll come across a winery with an open cellar door. Merricks, Red Hill, Balnarring and Main Ridge are top spots to sample a drop. Sip, swirl and sniff your way through the vineyards and be sure to take home a bottle or two of the region’s famous pinot noir.
Excellent cafés and restaurants can be found in the local townships, from Mornington all the way down to Portsea, with Rosebud and Sorrento being definite tourist highlights in between. Be sure to stop in at the Merricks General Store for an excellent meal served, of course, with local wine.
Deciding where to rest your head may be tough, with cliff top villas, country house retreats, charming B&Bs, coastal resorts, historic estates, chic boutique hotels and beachside suites all beckoning you with open arms. The tourist towns of Rosebud, Dromana and Rye, with their calm beaches and family-friendly restaurants and activities, are popular with those holidaying with kids in tow. The rolling vineyards of Red Hill provide the perfect romantic escape, while Portsea offers the ultimate in luxury for those who don’t mind splashing some serious cash.
With art galleries, antique shops, boutiques and gourmet foods stores, the Mornington Peninsula offers an enticing retail experience. Hastings and Tyabb are known for antiques, while Sorrento, Mornington and Flinders offer charming boutiques and quaint specialty stores. Taking place on the first Saturday of the month (September to May), the Red Hill Community Market draws crowds in their thousands who come to feast on gourmet food, sample wine and browse the region’s unique wares. The second Sunday of the month sees the vibrant Mornington Racecourse Market roll out hundreds of stalls selling everything from handmade jewelley and boutique cosmetics to hand carved woodworks, art and crafts.
Mornington Peninsula Like a Local
From the Linley Point Lookout in Mornington, take a relaxed cliff top walk to the neighbouring town of Mount Martha. Stretching for around 6 kilometers, this scenic coastal path takes in spectacular views of the bay, stretches of secluded beach that even some locals haven’t discovered, and dense tea tree bushland complete with local wildlife.