The Mornington Peninsula could be considered one of the jewels in Victoria's crown. Located to the south east of Melbourne City, it is an easy hour's drive from the CBD and stretches to Point Nepean at its tip. The Peninsula has an abundance of activities, experiences and attractions to offer and is well known for its picturesque towns, beautiful beaches and spectacular viewpoints.
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Over the next few pages I have highlighted some of the most appealing 'must dos' on the Mornington Peninsula, for each age group. If you're planning on a daytrip or a family holiday, you should be able to find plenty to do to keep everyone happy. Each activity mentioned is linked to its website so for more detailed information such as location, opening hours and prices, please follow the links.
Goodies for Grandparents
Lavender abounds at Ashcombe
We all know that grandparents like to take things at their own pace, stop for frequent cups of coffee and eat lots of cake. What better way to do that, than at Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens. Located on Red Hill Road in Shoreham, Ashcombe boasts one of Australia's largest hedge mazes in which to get lost. There are also beautiful formal gardens to stroll through, a forest of trees from around the world and meandering waterways to discover. A tearoom and cafe terrace will provide refreshments throughout the day and the maze is open every day from 10am.
If the old folks fancy a bit of history, Point Nepean National Park will be a winner. There is plenty to see and learn here, as well as spectacular view of Bass Strait and Port Phillip Bay. You can explore the old military forts and tunnels and have a look around the historic Quarantine Station. There are many walking and cycling paths to follow, or to save tired legs, the grandparents can catch a lift on the Point Nepean Transporter. The Transporter is an open air tractor-train which runs from the Information Centre to Fort Nepean, stopping at five points along the way where one can hop off and back on again at leisure.
For a bit of culture, McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park will hit the spot. Over 60 sculptures created by major Australian sculptors, dotted around 16 hectares of bush and landscaped gardens, form the Sculpture Park. Indoors is the Gallery with several different exhibits featured at any one time. Located at 390 McClelland Drive in Langwarrin, the Gallery and Sculpture Park are open Tues – Sunday, from 10am until 5pm. There is also a cafe which closes at 4.30pm.
Pleasures for Parents
Indulge yourself at the Peninsula Hot Springs
For some fantastic shopping and free samples of delectable local produce, the Red Hill Community Market hits the spot. This huge market is held on the first Saturday of every month excluding June, July and August, from 8am – 1pm at the Red Hill Recreation Reserve. There are hundreds of stalls and everything is home made or home grown. Your mouth will be watering on account of the many food stalls, so don't eat before you go and take plenty of money to spend.
After tramping around the market you may feel the need to relax and soothe those aching muscles. The Peninsula Hot Springs are an absolute must for those who like nothing better than a long, hot soak. Beautifully set out in landscaped surroundings the hot springs offer pools of varying temperatures, full of mineral rich, spring water. The main part of the Hot Springs is known as the Bath House. It offers over 20 bathing experiences and is suitable for visitors of all ages (but don't tell the kids that). The Bath House features include a reflexology walk, sauna, cave pool and family bathing areas. The Spa Dreaming Centre offers spa treatments for guests 16 years and over, so if you manage to palm the kids off, you might want to treat yourself further. The Hot Springs are open 7.30am – 10pm every day and the Spa Dreaming Centre from 9am – 9pm every day.
If you're after gastronomic delights, the Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Tour is tailor made for you. Now this is not cheap, but if you want to treat yourself, this is the perfect way to do it. Chillout Travel offers a range of tours, but Wine, Cheese and Chocolate is particularly tempting. You will be picked up from your accommodation in the morning and taken to two wineries to enjoy wine tasting and lunch. In the afternoon you can enjoy cheese tasting at the Red Hill Cheesery, followed by chocolate tasting at Mornington Peninsula Chocolates. Prices depend on how many people are in your party and the more there are, the cheaper it will be so phone some friends.
Ah teenagers...don't you just love them? The devil makes work for idle hands so keep your almost-adults busy with some fun activities which should appeal to even the most truculent teens. The Indoor Rock Climbing and Adventure Centre should be a good start. It offers rock climbing, abseiling, a high ropes course and a flying fox and caters for all abilities. This place looks like awesome fun; check out their website for some great pictures and all the information you need to arrange a visit.
If your inbetweener enjoys getting back to nature, they can enjoy riding horseback on a beach or bush ride. Gunnamatta Trail Rides is located on the corner of Truemans and Sandy Roads in Rye. They are open daily and take riders of all levels including complete beginners.
Wildlife conservation is a hot topic these days, so pack your teenager off to the Moonlit Sanctuary for a nocturnal adventure. Also open in the daytime as a regular wildlife park, the Moonlit Sanctuary is well known for its evening tours where you can meet quolls, bettongs, pademelons, owls and gliders. This is a really interesting and interactive experience and there is something very special about joining these animals on their night time prowls. The Sanctuary is located on the Tyabb-Tooradin Road in Pearcedale.
Kapers for Kids
Kids will love feeding the residents of Rain Hayne and Shine Farm
There are lots of fun things for the kids to enjoy on the Peninsula. Rain, Hayne and Shine Farmyard is a great morning or afternoon trip if you're on a budget as it's very reasonably priced. Located in Balnarring there is a great relaxed feel to the place and the kids can get up close to all the farm animals. Crates of food outside each of the pens mean your little ones can experience hand-feeding goats, sheep, ponies and donkeys. There is a small enclosure where they can happily cuddle up to bunnies and guinea pigs and a huge hay barn to be climbed in. Tractor and trailer rides are available at no extra cost and there is a sandpit with trucks which my toddler fell in love with.
The Enchanted Maze Garden is a sure fire winner for kids of all ages. Bursting to the seams with action there is plenty here to keep them occupied for a whole day. Aside from the mazes there are giant brainteasers, tube slides, a new obstacle course, a 3D indoor maze, beautiful gardens, a small petting farm and a lolly shop jam-packed with sugary treats. Located at Arthurs Seat, The Enchanted Maze Garden will set you back $15 for each child over two years, plus $25 per adult.
Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm in Main Ridge, will certainly tantalize young taste-buds and is a bit different from the usual round of parks, playgrounds and zoos you might find yourself heading to. Children can pick their own berries between November and April from 9am until 5pm. The award winning ice cream is sure to score you some points as is the delicious Dessert Cafe featuring all sorts of succulent strawberry based goodies.