I am a mum of two and Primary School teacher whose aim is to never be home during the midday movie. I believe that I am only ever a car trip away from an adventure.
Published July 31st 2013
All aboard the Rattling Red Train Cafe
Heading up to Mornington on a day trip is always wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable. There's so much to do, be that shopping, dining, exploring or indulging at one of the wineries along the Peninsula and now with Peninsula Link operational, the distance to get there from the city has significantly decreased. That means more time to play and less time in the car.
A peaceful and quaint art and craft village
One of our favourite spots to drop by is the Tyabb Art and Craft Village. This place is full of gorgeous little cottage style shops that house an array of hidden treasures. It's so delightful and peaceful wandering between the antique and collectable stores, the teddy bear shop, the fairy garden and the other beautiful homeware and garden stalls.
Lots of hidden treasures to unbury
There's so much on offer and for purchase, teddies, wrought iron pieces, paper craft, vintage clothing, mosaics, candles, baby wear, art, pottery and jewellery. Look out for some gorgeous racing attire as well. You can even throw a fairy party, take a mosaic class or paint a plaster cast. So much choice in one small, sweet space.
Welcome to the Fairy Garden
However, we had an ulterior motive this time round. You see, at the back of this quaint and cute village sits an old, shiny red train carriage which has been renovated to create an A class cafe. Once refereed to as Rattling Red, this converted piece of automotive history is one of the quirkiest places to stop and refuel at, particularly after you have been trolling through the village shops.
The train cafe is run like a kiosk with a window set up front. Here you can place your order, look over the freshly baked goods and jars of cookies and then head back to your seat and wait for your delicious lunch, snacks and drinks to arrive. Be prepared however, there's no credit card or EFT facilities available. So unless you want to be scratching through your car looking for a few gold coins, I suggest a prior stop at your ATM.
The menu is quite extensive yet relatively simple. It's all tasty and fresh and I would best describe it as first class kiosk fare. There are focaccias, ribbon sandwiches with a selection of fillings, Mrs Mac pies and sausage rolls and bowls of wedges. Plus hot and cold drinks to choose from including milkshakes, spiders, tea and coffee.
A Seat just for you
We tried the Devonshire tea which consisted of two heavenly scones served with real cream and jam and we fought over every last crumb. We also ordered the soup of the day which was a hearty minestrone with a large knob roll. The soup was thick with vegetables and rich in tomato taste. Even the bowl of chips was amazing, crisp on the outside, fluffy and soft inside and dusted delicately with the perfect amount of salt. The Devonshire tea came with a choice of drink and my soy latte was creamy instead of milky and that always pleases me.
Scrumpitous food to warm you up on the coldest of days
Prices are very reasonable and servings are just as generous. The Devonshire tea was well worth $8.50, the soup $9 and the chips $7. Coffees are at your regular going rate, $3.50 and a milkshake will set you back $5.
The food aboard the Red Rattler is wonderful but its the train carriage that steals the show. Once you've placed your order then the tricky part is to decide whether to sit out front and watch the real trains zoom past or sit out back on the undercover deck and watch the kids play on the small wooden fort. Both very appealing options.
A little wooden play fort will entertain the kids for ages
However, for train enthusiasts, lovers of all things old and historic, or for those who prefer a more intimate dining experience, I urge you to head straight inside and walk the thin corridor to locate your cabin room of choice. Each has a very authentic feel with bench chairs, luggage racks and old windows. They all have chairs and tables as well decorated in gingham, to make eating more pleasurable and a lot less messy.
The cabins are decked out in authentic touches like lugguage racks, door numbers and beautiful detail on the walls and celiling
There is a cabin fully stocked with old books, toys and games that will entertain the little ones for ages, although the games are missing pieces so probably stick to the books for stress free fun. I'm sure I saw a guitar perched against a wall in one of the cabins too and there were a family in the booth beside us singing old Beatles songs. On cooler days, tiny blow heaters warm the air giving it an inviting and cosy atmosphere.
If you enjoy character, history and a touch of quirkiness and you don't mind a freshly ground hot coffee, then take a trip to the Tyabb Art and Craft Village and enjoy a first class dining experience in your own train compartment on the Red Rattler.