... the holiday region choice of Melburnians .
Just an hour's drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula juts into the Southern Ocean like an Antipodean Italy.
Like its northern hemisphere counterpart, the region has a distinctly Mediterranean flavour. Picture olive groves and rolling hills, fine food and wonderful wineries. Add charming seaside villages and the striking Australian coastline, and you have a destination just waiting to be devoured.
Mornington is a charismatic seaside village well-known for it’s colourful, English-style bathing boxes. Step inside to change then pull up a deck chair and enjoy the beautiful ocean views. You’ll also find the town brimming with great galleries, eclectic shopping and bustling sidewalk cafes. The Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery has a striking collection from notable Australian artists, and also puts on a rotating display of enticing international fare.
Portsea and Sorrento have historically been playgrounds for Melbourne’s affluent. Stroll past beautiful heritage mansions along the Millionaire’s Walk, a cliff top path that connects both towns. Come back to earth at the Portsea Hotel, located on the southern tip of the peninsula and overlooking Portsea Front Beach, the hotel features accommodation, an enormous bistro, a la carte dining and several bars. Enjoy a drink by the log fire in winter or an al fresco meal during the summer months.
Sorrento’s beautiful limestone buildings are awash with galleries, boutiques and bustling cafes. Enjoy fish and chips on the beach or lunch at the historic cliff-top Hotel Sorrento.
Nature and Wildlife
Sorrento is the perfect spot to swim, snorkel or try your hand at sea kayaking or even SUP (Stand Up Paddle) in nearby Rye. The area is rich in marine life. Take a half-day cruise to discover the gorgeous aquatic locale and even swim with fur seals and dolphins and yes, you can go swim with Dolphins !!
The Mornington Peninsula also features rugged coastal cliffs, sandy bays and striking rock formations. Mornington Peninsula National Park, Cape Liptrap Coastal Park and Point Nepean National Park are just a few destinations to explore.
For families, the Enchanted Maze Garden at Arthur’s Seat, and Boneo Maze Wetlands are just two of several outdoor mazes that children will love. Also Ashcombe Maze was the world’s first circular rose maze, and it features over 1 200 stunning rose bushes and 3 000 lavender plants.
The Coolart Wetlands and Homestead Reserve, or just Coolart, is an 87.5 ha estate on the Western Port coast of the Mornington Peninsula about 70 km south-east of Melbourne. It comprises a late 19th-century mansion-like homestead and surrounding grounds west of the village of Somers. The homestead is set in a garden with adjacent wetlands and coastal woodlands with walking tracks. It is managed by Parks Victoria and is open to the public. It is a popular venue for picnics, nature walks and birdwatching.
There are a myriad of small villages you might explore.
Hastings is a relaxed, seaside retreat and fishing town famous for the pelicans that gather along the shore. Heading inland you’ll discover the riches of local produce and stunning rural vistas at Red Hill and Main Ridge. This small region is bursting with vineyards, cheese makers, orchards and other artisan producers. Take a tour or base yourself here and take advantage of the shuttle service that hops between cellar doors.
There are plenty of accommodation options on the Mornington Peninsula, ranging from historic guesthouses to luxurious retreats.
Menorca Retreat in Mount Martha
Jackson's at DromanaAmour Eva in Rye or the beautiful villas set in a vineyard at Crittenden Estate
.. and many more throughout the area in our specially selected accommodation listings.
Be sure to sample the fine restaurants and bustling cafes in the area during your stay. There's an abundance of them and catering for all dietary needs but here's a selection ... just to whet the appetite.
Kirks on the Esplanade at Mornington ... you couldn't get closer to the sea.
Hastings favourite eating and entertainment venue, the Westernport Hotel ... with the harbour and pelicans close by.
Red Hill and Arthurs Seat, then check out The Pig and Whistle pub or the perfect brunch and lunch with wine tasting to match at our own favourite, Merricks General Store.
There’s a whole world to enjoy on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, so why not consider it next time you need a relaxing break?
... and being local, we're happy to suggest an itinerary for you. Just drop us a line ... we're here to help.
Image Courtesy: Getty Images/Tourism Victoria