Every time I head down to Melbourne I find myself with a extra large restaurant list to check off, friends to catch up and a desire for -on stop shopping. On a recent trip we decided to get out of the city for a few days and enjoy a relaxing weekend getaway. Our initial plan was to spend two nights down at Geelong, however having checked off this part of the world more than enough – we decided to try something a little different. Typing into Google ‘road trips out of Melbourne’ – up popped Mornington Peninsula. After a quick look at the hashtag #morningtonpeninsula, I was sold. A weekend of wineries, beachside eateries, and gorgeous beaches…
Mornington Peninsula is a beautiful, but isolated, part of the world and to make the most of the weekend you’ll need a car.
Heading down Friday afternoon, we arrived at our cottage quite late Friday evening. Saturday morning started off early – relaxing at the Peninsula Hot Springs, Australia’s only natural thermal mineral springs bath and day spa. We made our booking at 8am, which I’d highly recommend on weekends to beat the crowds.
No weekend getaway is complete without a visit to the local produce markets. Just down the road from the Hot Springs is the Red Hill Community Markets (on the first Saturday of every month). Arriving at the markets mid morning, the markets were teaming with locals and tourists wandering through the stalls of fresh produce, local pop stores, customised clothing labels and the best strawberry jam in all of Australia. We strolled up and down the rows purchasing takeaway coffees, breakfast, and fresh produce to take back to our cottage to cook dinner that evening and breakfast the following day.
They say a successful day of wine tasting always requires a good meal before hand. After a few hours of taste-testing at every stall in the markets we were ready to jump straight into wine tasting. The Mornington Peninsula is known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I especially loved the Chardonnay down there – a buttery wine which melts in your mouth. My favourite is the Ten Minutes By Tractor Estate Chardonnay. Arriving at Ten Minutes By Tractor knowing that the restaurant is booked out 6 weeks in advance during the Summer, we excitedly arrived at the cellar door for wine tasting. Chatting to the cellar door staff we were told that there had been a cancellation in their restaurant and we were told the table was available for us. We found ourselves sitting at our table with a bottle of Chardonnay before even realising we had said yes!
Next on the list of wineries was Port Phillip Estate a dramatic architectural landmark, with gorgeous panoramic views of their vineyards all the way across to Phillip Island. When 5pm hit and we realised every winery in the area was now closed, with a car full of newly purchased wine (slight exaggeration), we drove onto the Red Hill Cheese store to purchase cheese to pair with our wine.
Our evening finished off down at St Andrews Beach watching the sunset whilst devouring our newly purchased cheese with a bottle of wine. We then went back to our cottage for a BBQ dinner.
Sunday started off with a lazy long breakfast followed by a day of beach hopping in Portsea, Sorrento, Sorrento back beach, and Rye beach followed by wines in the sun at the Portsea hotel and a late drive back to Melbourne.
Other key locations to visit in Mornington Peninsula
Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
Bathing boxes in Mornington, Dormana and Rosebud
Arthurs Seat for panoramic coastal views
Cape Schanck light station
Ashcombe maze and lavender gardens