Seaside towns meet local wineries and impressive restaurants on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula.
By Ellie Schneider
With its wall-to-wall wineries, busy bayside villages and stunning walks along the coastline, it’s easy to see why the Mornington Peninsula is a summer playground for Melburnians.
- Sample innovative food and wine
- Cool off on the beaches
- Unwind in natural thermal pools
How to get there
The Mornington Peninsula is just over an hour drive south of Melbourne. Trains depart from all stations in Melbourne’s city centre to Frankston station approximately every 15 minutes, and there is a shuttle service to Frankston and surrounding bayside suburbs from Melbourne Airport.
Things to do and top attractions on the Mornington Peninsula
Sip local wine and craft beer
The Mornington Peninsula is home to more than 50 cellar doors. Pinot noir and chardonnay are the region’s specialties, however shiraz, pinot gris and pinot grigio are beginning to share the spotlight. Montalto is a local favourite, housing an exceptional cellar door and restaurant. Ten Minutes by Tractor is an estate of three vineyards – separated by a 10 minute tractor ride – each with unique qualities and character expressed in its variety of wines. You can order a carefully designed wine flight – five wines based around a theme – from small-batch winemaker Crittenden Wine Centre, or blend your own bubbly at Foxeys Hangout. Some of Australia’s premier craft breweries can also be found here, such as Red Hill Brewery, Mornington Peninsula Brewery and St Andrews Beach Brewery. Embark on a Beer Cider and Spirits Trail to taste it all.
Dine with a view of the vineyards
Many of the Peninsula’s wineries are as much loved for their wines as they are for their exquisite restaurants overlooking vines, rolling hills and lakes. Book a table at award-winning Laura at Pt Leo Estate, and after your meal, wander through the property's ever-evolving sculpture park. Or delve into the two- or three-course menu at the Dining Room at Port Phillip Estate, where chef Stuart Deller serves seasonally-driven dishes with European accents. On the 11 hectare (28 acre) Willow Creek Vineyard estate you’ll find the stellar Jackalope Hotel, housing one of the most exciting restaurants in the area. The food at Doot Doot Doot is either grown in the kitchen garden or produced in the region, allowing chef Guy Stanaway to deliver a real expression of what it means to eat locally on the Mornington Peninsula.
Savour farmgate produce
The Mornington Peninsula is packed with locals growers and producers. Head to Green Olive at Red Hill for a full farm experience. Tour the farm before sitting down for tapas and wine. For a taste of incredible local cheeses, stop by Main Ridge Dairy. Then, embark on a truffle hunt with Red Hill Truffles, where you'll have the chance to seek out the sought-after black and summer truffles. For something sweet, head to Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, which is Australia's largest strawberry producer. You can pick your own fruit from November to June; just check the fruit availability calendar to see which berries are in season.
Head to the beach
Roll out your towel on the golden shores of Port Phillip Bay. The long, wide bay beaches at Frankston are ideal for swimming, snorkelling and yachting. Small bays are dotted between Mount Eliza and Mornington, while a series of safe, sandy bay beaches can be found around Mount Martha. Colourful bathing boxes huddle along the foreshore between Mount Martha, Dromana, Rosebud and Portsea, and have become an attraction in their own right. At the back beaches – on the open waters of the Bass Strait – you can tackle the swells generated by the strong westerly winds known as the Roaring Forties. Hit the surf at ocean beaches such as Point Leo, Flinders, Portsea and Sorrento, or if you’re just starting out, book a lesson with Salty Surf School.
It’s time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. At Peninsula Hot Springs, natural thermal mineral waters flow from beneath the ground into pools and private baths, across its two facilities, the Bath House and Spa Dreaming Centre. The Bath House includes a number of bathing options, including a cave pool, hamam (Turkish bath), cold plunge pools and thermal mineral showers. The Spa Dreaming Centre (reserved for guests 16 years and older) offers private pools and spa treatments. Sign up for the Fire, Ice and Bathe experience, where you'll harness the power of hot and cold in saunas and ice caves. There are a number of other day spas in the Mornington Peninsula such as Red Hill Spa and Endota Spa.
Take a walk
Breathtaking coastal views and wildlife spotting turn a cliff-top walk through Mornington Peninsula National Park into a unique experience. Follow the one kilometre (0.6 mile) Fort Nepean Walk past military fortifications dating back to the 1880s and take in vistas over Port Phillip Bay. Or take the 40 minute Bushrangers Bay Trail from Cape Schanck Lighthouse to Bushrangers Bay, keeping your eyes peeled for kangaroos. Climb the 300 metre (984 foot) granite hill of Arthurs Seat for spectacular views of the bay, the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas and the distant Melbourne skyline. For a real challenge, the 100 kilometre (62 mile) Mornington Peninsula Walk encompasses several walks at once along the Port Phillip coastline.
Join in the community
The Mornington Peninsula hosts a number of fantastic community events that celebrate the arts, sports and the region’s gourmet culture. Enjoy the peninsula's bountiful fresh produce at the Winter Wine Weekend in June or the Main Street Mornington Festival in October. See the works by leading local and international artists at the Montalto Sculpture Prize exhibition between February and October, or stroll through aisles of handmade arts and crafts, original jewellery and fresh produce at the Red Hill Community Market, which is held on the first Saturday of each month (between September and May). Every day of the week you can find family fun at Enchanted Adventure Garden, which has giant slides, mazes, zip lining and tree surfing.
Make your trip happen