Insider’s guide to Hastings

Rocks by the water

David Rood

Posted February 12, 2018

Only an hour out of Melbourne, Hastings is the gateway to many attractions.

Your guide:

  • Name: Andrew Iredale
  • Location: RACV Agency at Westernport Travel, Hastings
  • Why he loves it: We’re only an hour from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, there are great beaches 20 minutes away and wineries coming out of our ears. It’s a laidback rural lifestyle.
  • Absolute Favourite: The abundance of golf courses.
Gardens of Coolart Homestead

Coolart Homestead. Photo: Anne Morley

Coastal idyll

Living here in Hastings is all about the lifestyle. If you want the theatre and nightlife of city living this isn’t the place for you. But when the thermometer hits 25 degrees, everyone wants to put their boat in the water or go for a drive or bushwalk.  There’s lots to do: Take a stroll down the mangrove-packed Marine Parade, explore the Hastings foreshore, visit the marina, or head to the Tyabb Art and Craft Village to hunt down a vintage treasure or shop for craft.

The beach vibe

We have easy access to the Mornington Peninsula coast. The family-friendly beaches of Dromana, Safety Beach and Mornington on sheltered Port Phillip Bay are just a 25-minute drive away. While you won’t see anyone surfing on the beaches of  the bay, on the other side of the hill you can find waves at Balnarring and Flinders, as well as beautiful coastal walks around Gunnamatta.

Driving days

This part of Victoria is perfect for a Sunday drive.  It’s a rural area just a short distance from Melbourne and there is open road driving past beautiful farmland. It’s very popular for day trips – take in the farmland, the beaches, visit a winery or historic Coolart Homestead and wetlands wildlife reserve at Somers. It’s easy driving and wherever you go you’ll end up finding water somewhere.

Golf anyone?

Within a 40-minute drive of Hastings there are at least 20 golf courses. The terrain around Hastings and the Mornington Peninsula makes the courses pretty much weatherproof. No matter what the conditions are they are easy to play. And there is a heck of a lot of choice. As an indication of the quality of courses, the Australian Open was played at Moonah Links in Fingal in 2003 and 2005. And of course there is the RACV Cape Schanck Resort’s 18-hole championship course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr, on the southern tip of the peninsula.

Island life

Just 45 minutes away by car or ferry, Hastings is the ideal base for exploring Phillip Island. See penguins, koalas and seals, swim at calm bayside beaches, visit cellar doors and taste local produce, and enjoy the relaxed holiday vibe of Cowes.

Outside Tyabb Packing House

Tyabb Packing House. Photo: Anne Morley

Walk this way

Westernport Bay and the Mornington Peninsula are both beautiful coastal areas, and there are many bike paths and walking tracks in the area that take in the views. It’s easy territory to navigate and the region caters for a range of visitors including family and recreational cyclists, not just those who want to be on the side of the road.

As well as cycling and walking tracks in the Mornington Peninsula National Park, the Bushrangers Bay Walking Track runs from the Cape Schanck Lighthouse to Boneo Road, passing by the bay on the way. There’s also a 30-kilometre bike track that runs from Somerville to Bittern. Other great options include taking the ferry from Stony Point to French Island, home to the state’s most significant koala population, or joining a wildlife cruise to Seal Rocks, off Phillip Island, to see its 25,000-strong population of fur seals.

Lower a line

Hastings has a strong maritime history – it is under consideration as Melbourne’s new deep-water port when the city’s port runs out of capacity – and on weekends there’s a steady stream of fishing boats on trailers heading down to the marina, ready to launch into Western Port Bay in search of snapper and flathead. The mangroves on the Western Port shoreline are a natural fish hatchery and a large area north of Hastings has been declared a Marine National Park.

Tasting notes

Hastings was once an apple-growing region, but over the past 20 years apples have been replaced by  vineyards and olive groves. From Hastings through to the Mornington Peninsula there’s an abundance of wineries. There are more than 50 cellar doors on the Mornington Peninsula alone and a winery lunch is a weekend favourite. Hickinbotham, Dromana Estate, Paradigm Hill, T’Gallant – visit the wineries you might already be familiar with from Melbourne restaurant wine lists.