Summer holiday escape to the Mornington Peninsula & Melbourne in Victoria
Australia’s answer to The O.C. (or The Hamptons) is just across the border – and you can combine it with a trip to Melbourne’s CBD.
by Carla Caruso
Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has been whispering to me for some time.
TV shows like Secret Bridesmaids’ Business and The Cry have used it as a postcard-perfect backdrop. And celebrity visitors such as Megan Gale and Rebecca Judd – heightened during January’s Portsea Polo – have given the place a touch of stardust.
But beyond the glamour … in these times of drought and bushfire, it feels more important than ever to spend our tourism dollars in our own backyard. To explore places in Oz that we haven’t been before.
Which is what led me to travelling with my family to the peninsula for three days in December, with two days in Melbourne bunged on the end. (Our tabby, Luca, meanwhile, took a break at the Guide Dogs-run Beau’s Pet Hotel.)
It was my twin sons’ first time on a plane, which they were very excited about … until we hit a bit of turbulence. But the queue to get our hire car, then the hour-and-a-half drive to the town of Sorrento, where our Airbnb was, was more testing for them. It was a relief to reach our retro-themed beach pad, Feelin’ Groovy.
After we’d unpacked, we explored the main street of Ocean Beach Road nearby, including lunching at fish and chippery Fish Fetish. The battered scallops were unbelievable! The strip isn’t your usual country mainy with brands like Country Road and Bed Bath N’ Table having shops there, alongside other such chic outlets as a linen-wear popup store. There were also posters advertising yoga and gym sessions over summer, giving the town a Byron Bay-like feel.
Following this, we did the Millionaires’ Walk along the clifftop. And it was pretty cool to swing through all the old-fashioned gates along the way and have a nosey at the high-priced residences – many of which come with their own private jetties.
The next day we devoted to perusing historic sites in the Point Nepean National Park, including the Harold Holt Memorial at Cheviot Beach (where the former PM vanished in 1967), a quarantine station, and its military fortifications. Take note: only a shuttle bus – or your feet – can take you to some spots; cars aren’t allowed everywhere. But the bus runs regularly if you’re willing to cough up for a ticket. On the day we went, we also spotted players from the Western Bulldogs on a pre-season training camp. More of the peninsula’s stardust. 😉
On the drive back to town, we stopped at the Portsea Hotel for lunch. It’s a must-visit with jaw-dropping, Capri-like views. In the evening, we cooled off at the beach, near the iconic Baths eatery, and marvelled at the historic crayon-coloured beach boxes (or bathing/boat sheds) dotting the shoreline.
The next day, we had two things on our agenda: the all-natural Peninsula Hot Springs (so relaxing; my fave bathing spot was the cave pool) and the Arthurs Seat Eagle chairlift, which offered unbelievable views.
Feeling re-energised, the next morning, we headed back to frantic Melbourne (staying at Pegasus Apart’Hotel). The purpose of this part of the trip was all kid-related: visiting the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (inside Chadstone Shopping Centre) and SEA LIFE Melbourne. Highlights included the 4D films at both places (even if this did include copping some water spray and smoke), all the fun rides and games at LEGOLAND, and getting up-close and personal with the King and Gentoo Penguins at SEA LIFE.
Our trip to Mornington and Melbourne proved even more magical than we expected … we’ll be back!
What we like about it
- Mornington Peninsula has a relaxed vibe, yet there is so much to do there – and so many towns to explore. You could try something different every trip, from a stand-up paddle-boarding lesson to snorkelling and beyond.
- On our bucket-list next time is catching the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff. Scenes from my fave childhood TV show, Round the Twist, were shot in the quaint town.
- Our kids enjoyed some of the simpler activities, like splashing around at the beach and hitting the playground. So, make sure not to overbook yourself. It’s good to get into the Mornington spirit and just go with the flow.
- Sorrento is a town with a city vibe. It’s nice to have that mix of nature and glamour. You feel like you’re ‘away’, but not totally isolated. And you’re never bored.
Things to consider
- Costs build up when you add in airfares, hiring a car, accommodation, and sightseeing. So, be prepared. But travelling just by car, it’d be a nine-hour trip from Adelaide, which would tire out most kids … and drivers.
- The peninsula’s population swells over summer, so book accommodation well in advance. The prices get steeper in the towns closer to the tip, including Portsea and Sorrento. Right after Christmas is a particularly hectic time.
- Bring the Aerogard – or a cork hat. On the still December days during our travels, we were swatting at flies.
Coffee and food options nearby
Some of our faves during our peninsula stay was Hotel Sorrento (there’s a ’90s Aussie film named after the spot), Portsea Hotel, and Fish Fetish. And there are plenty more options for wining and dining along Sorrento’s main street and in the surroundings towns.
For more information on the Mornington Peninsula, please visit the tourism website here. On Melbourne, try this.
What: Holidaying in the Mornington Peninsula & Melbourne
When: Anytime – although summer is a particularly popular time for the peninsula!
Who: Fun-loving families
All photos by Carla Caruso for Play & Go Adelaide
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
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