Looking for a short holiday near Melbourne that won’t bash the budget? Quentin Long takes a stroll through the bargain highlights of Mornington Peninsula, finding affordable options for couples and families.

I chose Mornington Peninsula because the region has a lot going on for kids. Other alternatives are Daylesford, Yarra Valley and the Great Ocean Road.

To do

It’s all ‘aMAZEing’ with a couple of different mazes. And all the activities I mention below have cafes to feed the kids. Enchanted Adventure Garden is a lot more than just a maze, with an indoor maze, “tree surfing”, tube slides and outdoor mazes. ($29 for adults, $19 for kids with special accommodation packages). Ashcombe Maze is less flashy offering fewer activities but cute nonetheless with a lavender farm and the twee café. $18 for adults $10 for kids or $52 family pass. And then there is Boneo Maze with cool oversized games for kids as well as mini golf and, of course, a maze.

Guided tour of the Cape Schank Lighthouse, $44 for a family.

Pick strawberries at the Sunnyridge Strawberry Farm.

Follow the wine and food trails, there are several, and have a fab day out tasting, eating and imbibing.

Plus there are loads of great romantic restaurants – last time I checked, there were five restaurants with a hat. Recommendations: Stillwater and La Pétanque (French cuisine, 1208 Mornington Flinders Rd); the Port Phillip Estate Dining Room (modern Australian, 263 Red Hill Rd); Ten Minutes By Tractor


Kanasta Caravan Park, $320 for the weekend, or The Cape Schanck Lighthouse

Lindenderry offers a hugely romantic package: the spa and bubbles package. Luxury hotel room, Moet & Chandon on ice when you arrive plus entry to the springs. Can blow all the budget at once at $394 for a Friday night, but mid week is a little cheaper, $374. Or Best Western has an upmarket brand, Best Western Plus, and the Brooklands at Mornington is one of the best, a hugely cheap and decent place for couples to stay.



Australian Traveller’s guide to Mornington Peninsula