Portsea has long been described as the playground for Melbourne’s elite and it’s not hard to see why. The sprawling 19th Century mansions, beautiful gardens, colourful beach huts and clifftop walks showcase the wealth of the lucky few who call themselves locals.

But you don’t have to be one of the privileged 550 residents to enjoy this pretty seaside village on the tip of the famous Mornington Peninsula; its abundant beaches, world-class golf courses, friendly dolphins and network of national parks are there for everyone to enjoy. The popular tumbledown coastal rock formation of London Bridge is just west of Portsea Back Beach (walk there via the Farnsworth Track, or drive along Back Beach Rd).

It’s also the home of the annual Portsea Swim Classic, run by the local SLSC, a 1.2km slog that attracts 2000 hopefuls each year and is one of the largest open-water swims in the country.

If competitive swimming isn’t your thing, Portsea’s beaches are also the perfect place to paddle your feet before retreating to the famous Portsea Hotel for dinner and sunset drinks on its absurdly picturesque verandah.

Where? // 110km (2hrs) south of Melbourne on the tip of the Mornington Peninsula.

Did you know? // Convict William Buckley (thought to be the origin of the phrase “Buckley’s chance”) escaped from the Sullivan Bay penal colony near Portsea in 1803. He was given Buckley’s chance of surviving, but did so by living for 32 years with the Wathawurungs Aboriginal community that travelled up and down the Bellarine Peninsula.


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