The Mornington Peninsula in Regional Victoria offers access to a wide diversity of stunning coastal landscapes and some of the state’s best gourmet food and wine experiences.
Located just 60 minutes’ drive southeast of Melbourne’s CBD, the Mornington Peninsula is not only a hot spot for tourists, but also a favoured getaway destination for Melburnians themselves. The pristine beaches, rolling rural hills and laid-back vibe are all part of the attraction. This is the perfect destination for couples, groups of friends, and families, and you can do as much or as little as you like.
Here are ten of the best things to do on the Mornington Peninsula.
1. Step back in time at the Point Nepean Fort and Quarantine Station
Point Nepean National Park can be found on the very tip of the Peninsula and is home to the historic Point Nepean Fort and Quarantine Station. From 1852, the earliest settlers to Victoria chased gold, but they brought with them a flu pandemic and the need for a quarantine station. Visit the complex of heritage-listed buildings, then take the shuttle bus to Point Nepean Fort to explore a series of military structures, tunnels and shooting ranges used during World War II. If you have the energy, take one of the hiking trails back to the Quarantine Station.
2. Enjoy a soak at the Peninsula Hot Springs
The Peninsula Hot Springs is a Mornington Peninsula ‘must do’, and can be enjoyed even in the cold winter months. The series of pools fed by thermal springs provide a soothing and rejuvenating retreat from the world outside. To get the best value from the admission price, plan to spend a whole day letting your cares drift away.
Enjoy rock pools of a different kind at Sorrento Back Beach. They offer hours of entertainment at low tide with their many nooks and crannies. Explore the mini-eco systems, and cool off in the crystal clear waters. Remember to always swim between the flags. Low tide is also the best time for snorkelling, and you can get a good look at the wonders beneath the waves.
4. Visit one (or several!) of the region’s wineries
The Mornington Peninsula’s lush hills are home to some of the best wineries in the country. The region — famous for its Pinot Noirs — has a great choice of cellar doors that are open to the public, along with some seriously impressive fine dining experiences. Ten Minutes by Tractor, Paringa Estate and Max’s Restaurant at Red Hill Estate are some of the top options. You can easily while away a day at the wineries, with wine tastings either side of a long lunch.
Beer-lovers, you’re also well catered for thanks to the region’s burgeoning craft brewing scene.
5. See the sights on horseback
To get a different perspective of the Peninsula’s rugged terrain, consider booking a horseback trail ride. There are several riding companies that will take you on a coastal trot, winery tour or bush ride. Most offer options for beginners and experienced riders.
6. Play a round of golf
The Mornington Peninsula is a golfer’s paradise, and several of the region’s courses are up there with the best in the country. A round of golf is a great way to build up an appetite before popping off to one of the nearby wineries for lunch.
7. Learn to surf at Point Leo
Surfers flock to the Mornington Peninsula, as the swell from Flinders to Quarantine can often be better than what’s on offer along the Great Ocean Road’s Surf Coast. If you’re keen to tap into your inner grommet, give Point Leo Beach a go. It has a good beginner’s wave off a beach break and is manned by the local surf club on weekends. Surf’s up!
8. Catch a lift up to Arthurs Seat
Arthurs Seat offers incredible views of the Peninsula, and the Arthurs Seat Eagle gondola will take you from the base at Dromana all the way up to the peak. Get 360 degree bird’s-eye views of the coast and countryside.
9. Visit Cape Schanck Lighthouse
Jam-packed with history, you’ll find Cape Schanck Lighthouse on the southernmost point of the Peninsula. The lighthouse was constructed in 1859. Check out the museum and take a guided tour. If you have the time, there are some excellent hiking trails along the dramatic coastline.
10. Shop at a local market
Markets are hugely popular on the Mornington Peninsula and they’re a great way to mix and mingle with the locals. Two of my favourites are the Emu Plains Market at Balnarring and the Boneo Community Market, but there are plenty of others (just search online). Pick up the freshest local produce and perhaps find that special handcrafted something for that special someone.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do on the Mornington Peninsula? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Elle Vidovich is a Melbourne-based freelance writer with a love of travel, food and architecture. She has travelled to more than 50 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe. Elle believes that travel can change a person. It can open their eyes to different cultures, make them thankful for what they have at home, and inspire them to make a difference in the world.