exploring the

Mornington Peninsula

Combine idyllic European coastal living with good old Australian charm and you’ll get the Mornington Peninsula. Located just an hour from Melbourne, the region is a combination of seaside towns and local wineries, and the stunning coastline walks will take your breath away. Whether you’re up for a daytrip, making a little getaway of it or visiting for the whole summer, the compact size of the region and diverse activities means you’ll never have a dull day.

Things to do

The Mornington Peninsula is known for many things. Golf, water sports and adventures, and even its gardens. However, for many, the hot springs are what influences their visit. The hot springs at the Mornington Peninsula use natural hot mineral waters that flow from an underground aquifer almost 640m below the surface. It’s the untouched water that ranges between 37 and 43 degrees Celsius that is so appealing, with its naturally occurring minerals including sulfur, calcium, magnesium, potassium and more.

Other than the hot springs, though, there are a number of things to keep visitors busy, or relaxed, however you want to spend your time.

Golf Courses and Clubs

With 15 clubs in the region, you can truly play golf all day long, hopping from one golf course to the next thanks to their close proximity to each other. The Mornington Peninsula is often referred to as Australia’s number one golf destination, due to its mild climate, perfect conditions for links courses, sand dunes for natural contours and fast-draining sandy soil – a perfect recipe.

There are 19 links to choose from and you won’t be disappointed with any of them. From Eagle Ridge Golf Course in the north, make your way all the way down south to The National Golf Club in Cape Schanck, which has often been referred to as the best piece of golf real estate in the country.

Beaches and Marine Activities

The welcoming waters of the Mornington Peninsula offer something for everyone, with calm waters on the golden bay beach side through to frenetic surf on the ocean side. Whether it’s adrenaline watersports or relaxing by the water’s edge, you won’t be disappointed.
Meet the peninsula personalities on a swimming expedition where you can frolic with the dolphins and seals, go scuba diving to explore the marine life or shipwrecks, jump on a surf board or go kayaking. For something a little more serene, you can hire a boat and head out with a fishing rod to catch some dinner – the area is home to more than 500 species of fish – or simply charter a boat to enjoy the fresh sea breeze. The shoreline stretches for more than 260km and includes everything from sandy, family friendly beaches through to rugged ocean coastlines.

Gardens and Mazes

For something a little bit different, there are three huge maze gardens dotted around the Mornington Peninsula. Get lost among the twists and turns.
Home to Australia’s oldest and most famous hedge maze, Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens is set among 25 acres of world acclaimed gardens. The hedges form a beautiful circular rose maze with thousands of metres of pathways to explore, and the lavender labyrinth flowers all year round, with more than 3000 lavender plants overlooking the Arboretum.

The Boneo Maze is surrounded by 27 acres of native flora and fauna. It’s family-friendly fun through art and nature. There’s also an 18-hole mini-golf course, jumping castle, giant games garden, vintage carousel and adventure zone so it really is fun for the whole family. For those looking for something a bit more relaxing to do, there’s also a 1.5km boardwalk so you can take a stroll through the wetlands.
For some more adventure, head to the Enchanted Adventure Garden. It boasts three hedge mazes, including one with a Japanese garden and one with fairies and puzzles throughout, and even an indoor 3D maze. There are also giant tubes slides, themed gardens, a sculpture park, zip lines and a giant Tarzan swing. Adventure to the max.

For those who want to enjoy the serenity the area has to offer, there are also several gardens to stroll through. Heronswood House and Garden is an historic property and is home to Australia’s most respected gardening organisation, the Digger’s Club. There are kitchen and vegetable gardens and nursery, and if you’re a keen gardener, you can even take part in the Learn with Diggers program which offers workshops and masterclasses on weekends.

Panorama Garden Estate is a unique nature garden with more than 20,000 plants and 18 separate garden areas to explore. It’s described as an oasis of tranquility with lakes and waterfalls to enjoy and native animals to meet.

Finally, at the start of the Mornington Peninsula is Cruden Farm, one of Victoria’s most memorable open spaces, with lakes and gardens galore, there are several different styles to enjoy and vistas to appreciate.

Best Time to Visit

The Mornington Peninsula is a very popular destination, especially for visitors from Melbourne. Because of this, the region can get very busy during school holidays.
In terms of climate, the best time to visit is generally February through to April. It’s still warm so visitors can enjoy the water activities, but it’s not so busy because schools are back in session. These months also tend to be the driest so you have more chance of enjoying everything the Peninsula has to offer in terms of outdoor sites.

 

In saying this however, March tends to be one of the busier months so prices for accommodation may rise and you may have to deal with more people milling around.
Also bear in mind that some of the top restaurants on the Peninsula are open Friday and Saturday nights, and at times, Wednesday through to Sunday for lunch. If you’re keen to sample the local cuisine at its best, try to book over a weekend or at least towards the end of the week.

Best Places to Stay

Luxury and Winery Accommodation

The Mornington Peninsula knows how to do luxury, and there are plenty of accommodation options to suit.

 

Peppers Moonah Links Resort is described as a modern country coastal resort. The great thing about Peppers is that it’s within the grounds of Moonah Links, featuring two 18-hole championship courses, so it’s perfect for the golf enthusiasts out there. The resort also offers an on-site spa, heated pool and a delightful restaurant.

 

The Jackalope Hotel is an award-winning 46-room boutique hotel that simply screams luxury. It’s set on the grounds of Willow Creek Vineyard and is known for its one-of-a-kind architecture and interplay of design, art and storytelling. Truly a unique stay.
A classic country house hotel, Lindenderry at Red Hill is the perfect place to base yourself to explore the Peninsula. The hotel is flanked by vineyards and sculpted gardens with Linden Tree Restaurant on the grounds and Lindenderry’s winery where you can sample delicious wines.
Blue Range Estate Villas is nestled in the hills above Port Phillip Bay, positioned on the Blue Range Estate vineyard. There are only four boutique villas providing guests with the ultimate relaxing getaway. The winery provides premium sparkling wine on arrival and each villa has magnificent sea and vineyard views to enjoy the sunset.

Bed and Breakfast Options

Whether it’s luxury or traditional options you’re after, the Mornington Peninsula has it. Weeroona Retreat B&B offers something a bit different with themed lodges including Tuscan, African and Egyptian. Accommodation is all self-contained with a scrumptious morning breakfast included.

 

If you’re looking for something a bit more ‘couply’, Arthurs Views has been purpose built as a couple’s retreat, with four private suites. You’ll frequently come across kangaroos and echidnas, as well as native birdlife while on the grounds. The B&B has panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay which are sure to impress.

 

For something a bit more traditional, Harmony Bed and Breakfast is set on five acres of rural garden, and features a guest library, a gas fireplace in the guest lounge and private patios for each room.
On the luxury side of things, Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate offers unique and luxury accommodation with six contemporary designed suites that all enjoy views over the vineyards and coast. There’s also a restaurant and cellar door on site.

Glamping and Camping

Glamping and camping are also popular options on the Mornington Peninsula. While there’s luxury accommodation on site, Mornington Peninsula offers glamping at Blue Range Estate Wines with 10 luxury five-metre tents enjoying views of the Main Ridge hinterland, Port Phillip Bay and Bass Strait.

 

Happy Glamper gives you the option of where you want to glamp, providing everything from tents to beds, and they even set it all up for you. All you have to do is pick the kind of tent you’re after, the dates you’d like to stay and the site you’d like it to be pitched. Then rock up and enjoy the luxury experience.

 

Offering a bespoke glamping experience, Iluka Retreat is a stunning 36-acre property fusing small-scale luxury with nature. The glamp-site overlooks the wetland lake and it’s truly a relaxing and serene experience.
If it’s camping you’re after, the Mornington Peninsula is home to some of Victoria’s most beautiful beaches, renowned for their foreshore camping reserves. The reserves in Rosebud, Rye and Sorrento are all close to local amenities including shops, cafes, national parks and of course, the sandy shores and sea. And the views are spectacular.

Top Foodie Experiences

Restaurants to Try

There are so many restaurants, it’s hard to pick just a few to sample. The good thing is that the Mornington Peninsula offers everything, from fine dining right through to café food and snacks, so no matter what you’re in the mood for, there’ll be something on offer.
Rated pretty high on the list is Squires Loft, known for the steaks which they pride themselves on cooking to perfection.

 

For panoramic beach views, head to Waves on the Beach. It offers a picturesque dining experience and has a swag of awards to its name. it’s great for casual group meals.
Petit Tracteur has garden views overlooking the vineyards and serves delectable French-inspired dishes. It offers a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy a good bite to eat or just a drink and a nibble from the bar menu. Or if you’re just after some delicious French desserts, head to the conservatory to enjoy a coffee and pastry.

 

For something a little bit more casual. Alatonero has great Greek food with excellent service. The restaurant is always buzzing; bright and breezy featuring the Mediterranean colours of Santorini.
Finally, if you’re after a bit of Japanese, head to Steam in Rye. It’s contemporary Asian fusion with an extensive menu. The food is designed to be shared so remember to go with someone who has the same taste buds as you.

Cooking Classes and Workshops

If it’s education you’re seeking or a bit of fun getting messy in the kitchen, there are cooking classes, and farm and winery courses to experience.
Set among the kitchen gardens, Georgia Bass Café and Cookery offer hands-on cooking classes so you can repeat your dining experience at home. Everything is cooked on premium Miele equipment and classes include Death by Chocolate, My Love Affair with France, Patch to Plate and Entertaining at Home.

 

100 Mile Foodie Cooking School is a unique cooking school focusing on local, sustainable and ethically farmed food, all sourced from the Peninsula and South Gippsland. Classes include Gut Health and Fermentation Workshops and even an after-school garden cooking class for the kids.

 

Bass and Flinders Distillery offers visitors the opportunity to see how their gin, vodka, limoncello and brandy are made, offering tours of the barrel room and distillery. The distillery also offers a unique gin masterclass, where guests can create their very own bespoke gin to take home.

Best Wineries

Since the early 1980s, the Mornington Peninsula has emerged as one of Australia’s premier wine regions. The cool-climate region is home to more than 200 wineries.
Crittenden Wines are iconic to the Mornington Peninsula. The winery helped establish the region’s reputation and the Crittenden Wine Centre is the best place to start to sample a wide range of wines. There’s table service, so you can sit back and relax as you’re guided through a customised menu of wines.

 

Red Hill Estate was one of the first in the region and has an excellent range of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinor Gris and Shiraz on offer. The fruit is all sourced from their three estate vineyards.
The new kid on the winery block, Rare Hare is not to be missed. It’s home to Willow Creek Wines and offers casual wine tasting at the wine bar. If you want to book a guided tasting, it’s available in the barrel room.

Fruit Picking Adventures

It’s not all about the beach and the wines, the Mornington Peninsula also has some fantastic fruit-picking opportunities.

 

Sunny Ridge is one of the Peninsula’s most loved and iconic attractions. The farm is set among the bushland and visitors can explore the harvest fields while picking their own strawberries. The best time to pick strawberries is November and Sunny Ridge is often packed with visitors and families from near and far, ready to pick their own deliciously sweet berries.

 

The oldest cherry picking farm in Victoria, Red Hill Cherry Farm provides buckets and bags so visitors can pick until their hearts are content (or their buckets are full). Cherry season normally runs from November through to mid-January.

Beaches, wineries, restaurants and water sports, there’s no denying the Mornington Peninsula has something for absolutely everyone. The wonderful thing about the Peninsula is that if you want to relax, it’s the perfect place, but if you want to get out, explore and have an adventure, well it’s the perfect place for that too.