19 things to do on your trip to the Mornington Peninsula
There’s no doubt about it, if you’re looking for the most rocking interstate city escape, Melbourne is ready for you.
Everyone knows you go to Melbourne to chow down like a newly crowned king, swill booze in flavour combinations that never occurred to you before and shop like a Kardashian after a bad break-up. And now, with half the city of Sydney evacuating to their southern sister for the weekend, it looks to be Australia’s emerging party capital, with every pub and bar bursting to capacity come Friday afternoon.
If you want to break up your hedonistic itinerary of eating, drinking and making seriously merry, then an escape to the Mornington Peninsula is in order. All you need is car hire and you’re good to go!
The end of that day came far too soon.
If you have enough time, give yourselves two or three days here. The Peninsula, or “the Ninch” if you want to blend in with the locals, has a special, old world charm about it. Everywhere whispers of treasured memories and moments – the winding roads fringed by lush trees, the back beaches filled with unexpected natural surprises, the protected bays brimming with transparent water that looks teeth-grindingly icy but somehow manages to be as inviting on a hot day as a fireplace and a mug of steamy hot chocolate is on a stormy one.
It’s romantic, it’s relaxing (Peninsula time should 100 per cent a thing) and if you leave the winery tour out of the itinerary and slot in a trip to the famous Mornington Peninsula Springs instead, it could be rejuvenating as well!
What you also might not know is you can also squeeze in a little adventure time here as well. Summer might be well and truly over, but if you’re planning a visit to this little slice of heaven in the second half of the year your day is best spent cliff jumping, which weirdly seems to be the region’s latest craze. Read on to find the best spots to throw yourself into the sea, and all other things Mornington Peninsula, below.
1. See the iconic beach boxes which line the peninsula’s coast line (all 1,300 of them). We pulled in at Dromana to have a cheeky squiz and take a happy snap.
2. Hit the wineries. Create your very own Mornington Peninsula winery tour , all you need is a designated driver 😉
4. Take a dive into nature’s most perfectly formed plunge pool from the Blairgowrie Jumping Rock at Bridgewater Bay.
5. Grab some fish and chips from Fish Fetish at Sorrento Beach and have yourself a salty afternoon picnic in front of the beach. FYI – seagull mafia game is strong here. We were pretty sure they were ready at any point to attack if we showed any point of weakness, so my recommendation would be don’t even think about taunting them with scraps until you’re full.
6. Treat yo’self at the Peninsula Hot Springs, Australia’s first geothermal springs. If bathing isn’t your scene there are plenty of other spas to choose from!
7. Head inland to Arthurs Seat via a winding mountain road for some epic views. Don’t forget to pull in at the iconic Arthurs Hotel for a quick lunch pit stop.
8. Just drive. That’s right, you heard me. Stop when you’re hungry. If you can’t fight the OCD and need a little more structure, you can always plan out your route in google maps.
9. Whilst I haven’t been there personally (time constraints officially suck) Fort Nepean looks like an amazing place to explore and get a feel for some of the Peninsula’s rich history.
10. The Sorrento back beach is stunning. Spoiler alert: major mermaid moments here.
11. Cape Schanck is quite a sight, particularly at sunset or sunrise. We visited on what must have been the windiest day of the wear and as the cape is very open to the elements we were #blessed not to be blown away. Get down to Shelly Beach and have a wander. You’ll see the ocean at its most powerful, plus get to feast your eyes on some of the most stunning rockpools around. To best view what’s in these pools, as well as for safety reasons, save exploring Cape Schanck for a calm day.
12. The Peninsula’s coastline is covered in incredible rock formations, which to me look like sprawling prehistoric graveyards. Dragon Head Rock at Rye Back Beach is just one of these, and a very memorable photo opportunity for any budding photographers out there!
13. London Bridge, Mornington Peninsula (Not to be confused with the London Bridge on the Great Ocean Road). If you can’t get down the Great Ocean Road then you must see at least one of Victoria’s London Bridges!
14. Go to a maze – there’s a few to choose from – and get in touch with your inner child. I got lost in one of these as a little girl and can still recall the exhilarating rush I felt the moment I was re-united with my family. Ah, memories!
15. In the summer months (October – April) swim with fur seals and dolphins in the Peninsula’s perfect waters.
16. Head out for a walk. For an easy stroll watching the city’s rich kids play, the Millionaire’s Walk is perfect. Cape Schanck to Bushranger’s Bay is a quick and peaceful bush walk (approximately five kilometres return). If you’re a wildlife freak, trek through Arthurs Seat Park for an encounter with a kangaroo!
17. DIY-foodie tour. The Peninsula is renowned for local grown produce and some of the best chefs in Australia have gravitated to the area to take advantage of it. Local favourites include Johnny Ripe and Transition Farm.
18. Discover a little slice of the French Riviera Down Under at the Pillars, Mt Martha.
19. If you’re in town the first weekend of the month, go to the monthly Red Hill Community market, which is considered the “great dame” of Victoria’s craft markets. My mum used to save up and splurge on matching handmade outfits here for my twin brother and I when we were babies. Let me tell you I rocked that patchwork velvet! (Please note the market doesn’t run June, July or August). If you froth over a good market but are visiting at any other time, don’t worry. TBH, there’s too many to choose from.