First published on 6 Nov 2013. Updated on 6 Feb 2014.
If ever a region were ideally suited to a motoring holiday it’s the Mornington Peninsula. Whether you’re seeking a family break, an outdoors adventure or a weekend of indulgence, its diverse attractions are best discovered by car.
See and do
Exploring the region’s wineries is a must-do; select your designated driver and get tasting (see Eat and drink below). Unwind at Peninsula Hot Springs, where the natural thermal mineral waters will do wonders for your skin. Springs Ln, Fingal 3939. 03 5950 8777. Golfing fanatics will make a beeline for Moonah Links, a 36-hole complex and resort with spa and restaurant. Peter Thomson Dr, Fingal 3939.1300 362 386. Port Phillip’s beaches are flat and safe, ideal for families with small children or windsurfing; Dromana Bay, Rosebud, Rye and Mornington are among the best.
At 314 metres, Arthurs Seat is the highest point on the peninsula and the views are panoramic, reaching all the way to Melbourne’s skyline. Arthurs Seat State Park has a range of walks of varying levels of difficulty. Arthurs Seat Rd, Arthurs Seat 3936.
Flora fans will be impressed with Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens, with its 25 acres of woodland and sculpted gardens. Three mazes – Cypress Hedge Maze, Circular Rose Maze and Lavender Labyrinth – will test your sense of direction. 15 Shoreham Rd, Shoreham 3916. 03 5989 8387.Daily 8am-5pm (closed Xmas Day). $0-$18.50.
On the way back to Melbourne, pick up a punnet of fresh fruit at the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, where you can pick your own when the red devils are in season. 244 Shands Rd, Main Ridge 3928. 03 5989 4500.
Eat and drink
Located in a statement building, Port Philip Estate has several ranges available for tastings and the drops that stand out are Port Philip Estate Chardonnay, Kooyong’s Single Vineyard Faultline Chardonnay, and Port Philip Estate Pinot Noir. 263 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill South 3937. 03 5989 4444. At Ten Minutes by Tractor, order up a cheese plate that includes local stars Fingal Gold from Red Hill and Caprinella from Main Ridge. 1333 Mornington-Flinders Rd, Main Ridge 3928. 03 5989 6455. Paringa Estate is hidden gem on the Peninsula, with the cellar door and restaurant located among the vines – a stunning setting. The wines are top-shelf, particularly the current chardonnays and pinot noir. 44 Paringa Rd, Red Hill South 3937. 03 5989 2669.
Down the street at Merricks General Store, expect top country bistro-style fare. Order the bay mussels and the chicken and leek pie, and a glass of Elgee Park Family Reserve Riesling. 3460 Frankston-Flinders Rd, Merricks, 3916. 03 5989 8088. At Red Hill Epicurean, more than 100 local wines are showcased alongside Italian dishes. Order the Porcolino or the Picantosa pizza. On the mains, the kalamata olive-crusted rack of lamb is the winner. 165 Red Hill-Shoreham Rd, Red Hill South 3937. 03 5989 4000. The top cup of coffee in the district is found at Pier Providore in Flinders, where the ham and gruyère croissant is also a must. 38 Cook St, Flinders 3929. 03 5989 0591.
The historic village of Flinders on the southeastern tip of the Mornington Peninsula is an idyllic base for your great weekend escape, thanks to the opening of an accommodation wing at the Flinders Hotel. Here, at Quarters, expect modern guest rooms that are spacious and contemporary in design. The hotel has a new restaurant, Terminus, that serves up north African-influenced cuisine with produce sourced from across the Peninsula. 159 Wood St, Flinders 3929. 03 5989 0201.
Mornington Pensinsula is only an hour from Melbourne; get out of the city on the Eastlink and join the Mornington Peninsula Freeway (11). Completed in January 2013, the Peninsula Link completes the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, making for a smooth journey bypassing Frankston and all the way to Rosebud.
For more short getaways, visit off the beaten track.