Local’s guide: Mornington

Bike Riding Mornington Peninsula my nrma locals guide
Bike Riding Mornington Peninsula my nrma locals guide

Surf, sun, wine and food. From family beach holidays to romantic winery weekends, there’s something for everyone on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Highlights
  • Beaches, bathing and surfing
  • Food and wine
  • Peninsula Hot Springs
  • Top gold courses

The Mornington Peninsula is a surfing, fishing and swimming playground, less than 90 minutes’ drive south of Melbourne. But there’s more than natural beauty on offer. Often described as having European flair, Mornington has gained a reputation as a culinary hotspot – and has seen a boom in interstate and international tourism as a result. With the potential summer crowds to contend with, it pays to know what’s good from a locals’ perspective, from quiet beaches and walking trails to top new restaurants.

Where to eat

Overlooking Port Phillip Bay, the historic Royal Hotel serves gastro pub fare. For seafood with a view try the Rocks Mornington, there’s Lilo Cafe for great coffee and breakfasts, and Cakes & Ale in Sorrento is popular for its chic, modern cafe restaurant menu. Pizza lovers might try Italico in Sorrento or D.O.C Mornington or, for good local Italian style, food try Cook & Norman Trattoria in Flinders.

Prefer fish and chips? Get takeaway from Fish Fetish in Sorrento and eat on the esplanade, watching the ferries, or try David Prosser Seafoods in Rye.

Lose yourself in the winding roads and rolling hills of Red Hill and Main Ridge searching for more than 60 wineries and cellar doors where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay rule. Highlights include T’Gallant, Foxey’s Hangout, Polperro, Montalto, Green Olive at Red Hill and newcomer, Point Leo Estate, which also boasts a sculpture park. Or, for something different, try the extensive range of gins and vodkas at Bass & Flinders Distillery.

Where to play

Although wine and food wandering has become a pastime in itself around these parts, the Peninsula is also rich in history and natural beauty. At the top of the list is Point Nepean National Park, a sliver of land fortified over the years to protect Port Phillip Bay from foreign attack. Here you can take walking or biking tours and explore military tunnels and bunkers dating back to the late 1800s.

The other main attraction in the area is the award winning Peninsula Hot Springs, which offers all manner of bathing experiences, all naturally heated, beautifully landscaped and built purely for relaxation.

If you are afflicted by the urge to play golf there are no less than 15 clubs and 20 outstanding courses to choose from. For family fun, try the Enchanted Adventure Garden and maze on Arthur’s Seat, the Red Hill Lavender Farm and Distillery, or Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens. For something completely different, take a stroll along Millionaires’ Walk, a 1.5km return route along Crown Land past some of the most expensive clifftop properties in Victoria.

Where to ride

What better way to take in the rolling hills and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines of Mornington Peninsula than by trusty steed? At Horseback in Shands Road, Main Ridge, you can not only scratch that equine itch with horse riding classes, holiday camps and education programs, but enjoy three hour horseback winery tours. Saddle up and canter over to wineries such as T’Gallant, Mantons Creek, Mock Orchard, Green Olive at Red Hill and Horseback’s own winery, Prince Hollow Estate. A two hour horseback winery tours starts from $130, and three hours from $170.

Still hungry to horse around? Try the western themed Ace-Hi Adventure Park in Cape Schanck. Here you’ll find 80ha of trails and grazing pastures perfect for learning how to ride or indulging in overnight stays to maximise the horsey activities. Choose from 12 self contained cabins, costing $350 for two nights’ stay for two people.

For something a little more sedate for the younger ones, visit The Big Goose, a working farm and petting zoo with lambs, piglets, and chicks that includes a fun park and pony rides, mini golf and hay bail rides.

Where to stay

Visit Mornington Peninsula offers a free regional booking service where you can search for accommodation as per your needs and budget. Highlights include Fairways Resort in Rosebud, or, for a more personal experience, there’s McCrae Cottage in McCrae, and in Blairgowrie, the Boathouse Resort has studios and suites just over the road from the front beach.

For a slice of rural life with all the creature comforts, Hart’s Farm on Tucks Road in Shoreham makes for a perfect couple’s retreat. Meanwhile, the Flinders Hotel in Flinders offers a more modern, slightly corporate feel, or, for pure luxury, stay in one of the 46 options at new Jackalope vineyard in Merricks North.

Image credit: Visit Victoria

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