Wondering what to do, where to go and how to keep the family entertained on the scrumptious Mornington Peninsula? Try this three-day, first-timers itinerary as a taster…
Start out on Port Phillip Bay with a dolphin and seal cruise. Swim with wild bottlenose dolphins and Australian fur seals on a Moonraker Dolphin Swims tour, which includes snorkeling equipment and a sumptuous lunch.
After lunch try ‘tree surfing’ on an exhilarating adventure climbing course set in the beautiful woodland Sculpture Park of the Enchanted Adventure Garden. Start 10 metres up in the tree canopy, then traverse through suspended rope bridges and wire balances, testing your nerve on a series of aerial obstacles. Surf through the trees on a thrilling zipline or try the giant Tarzan swing.
In the afternoon, take a walk along the boardwalk at Boneo Maze. Wind through 15 acres of wetlands, and stop to see the native wildlife, tall tea tree and fern glade. Get lost in a maze or perhaps claim the title of best mini-golfer in your family on the garden mini-golf course.
A morning of art and culture awaits as you explore the region’s galleries and sculpture parks. The Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery is the creative bridge between the art of the 19th and 21st centuries. It embraces national, international, traditional and contemporary art, encouraging visitors to engage through a busy program of activities and educational programs.
For families, let The Big Goose take your little brood under its wing. There are hands-on animal petting experiences, a traditional tractor ride, plus adventure activities such as the tyre maze, slides and a rock climbing wall. The colourful, trampoline-like jumping pillow will keep kids entertained for as long as their energy lasts.
In the evening, have dinner and a show at the Frankston Arts Centre, which features top Australian theatre, music and international acts for the whole family. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australian Ballet, Bell Shakespeare Company and international performers such as Hugh Jackman appear here.
Ride a horse along the spectacular St Andrews beach with Gunnamatta Trail Rides. Enjoy views from the lofty sand dunes and the fun of trotting or cantering along the sand on one of the wonderful horses.
Next, it’s time to see what’s under the surface of the crystal clear waters. The peninsula’s sheltered bays make for an ideal environment for the entire family to snorkel and see the sheer diversity and colour that abounds. Extreme Watersport will guide you to the best locations (all equipment supplied).
For those wanting to go a step further, Mornington has a large variety of diving locations for the novice, (such as the popular pier dives), and more advanced divers can try the challenging wreck, wall and back beach dives.
After all that adventure, wind down and relax at Peninsula Hot Springs, a sanctuary where the mind and body are calmed by the steam and the sound of running water. There are more than 20 bathing experiences suitable for visitors of all ages, including the Hill Top pool with 360-degree views, reflexology walk and a Turkish steam room.
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What to eat and drink: You’ll find market gardens, farmers’ markets, artisan food producers, winery restaurants and casual cafes. Mornington’s vineyards are famous but there are new tastes to enjoy at craft breweries, cider makers and distilleries too. Fill your picnic basket at a farmgate or share a regional platter at a winery restaurant. Take high tea, book a cooking class or savour a fine dining experience in a hatted restaurant. More on Mornington Peninsula’s food and wine
Where to stay: Mornington Peninsula has a mix of luxurious country house retreats, vineyard cottages, lakeside lodges, contemporary coastal apartments and classic seaside cottages (some are pet friendly). There are also the picturesque vineyards where you can stay after a leisurely dinner, and the hill-top B&Bs which give you extraordinary views of Port Phillip Bay. More on Mornington Peninsula accommodation
How to get there: Mornington Peninsula is under an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Travel across from the Great Ocean Road using Searoad Ferries.