An insider’s guide to the Mornington Peninsula
From bushwalk to beach, winery to secret garden, the Mornington Peninsula has something to tempt every visitor.
- Name: Allison McCrindle
- Position: RACV Cape Schanck Resort accommodation manager
- Why she loves it: I can't imagine not living near the beach, and whenever I go way the one thing I miss is walking along the beach.
- Absolute favourite: Driving up the Arthurs Seat, the views are just magic.
Enchanted Adventure Garden.
The Mornington Peninsula’s most popular tourist attraction, the Eagle Skylift, replaces the old Arthurs Seat chair lift, which was decommissioned about 10 years ago. The skylift, which opened last December, offers a bird’s-eye view from Arthurs Seat to Dromana. The gondolas are all glass and the ride is about 15 minutes each way. It’s really smooth and safe. I went on it recently and my daughter saw kangaroos grazing below us.
- RACV members save 10 per cent by pre purchasing tickets.
The crew at Polperro know exactly where bottlenose dolphins hang out. The eco-tourism operator takes small numbers of people on board and only half swim at a time. If the dolphins aren’t keen to swim, there is a good chance that the seals will. The seals hang around Chinaman’s Hat, a wooden structure, where they sun themselves. They’re really playful. Polperro dolphin swim tours run from September to April from Sorrento Pier.
You can visit the Peninsula Hot Springs whatever the season. In winter you come out feeling warmed up and relaxed for the rest of the day. It’s a very natural setting and at the top you can look out over the peninsula. There’s a cave pool, reflexology walk, Turkish steam bath, sauna and cold plunge pools.
Families love the Enchanted Adventure Garden at Arthurs Seat. The three mazes and tube slides are great for younger kids. But for those who like adventure, tree surfing is the way to go. You explore the treetops by using bridges, zip lines and platforms. Younger children can do the nippers course.
The Panorama Garden Estate is one of the best-kept secrets on the peninsula. It’s a private property so you need to book to get the address. The 22-hectare sanctuary includes gardens, wetlands, rainforest and a wildlife reserve. You can see farm animals and native animals such as emus, wallabies and rare white kangaroos while enjoying the great views of Bass Strait.
Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm.
Rug up as it’s always windy at Cape Schanck Lighthouse in the Mornington Peninsula National Park. You can take a tour of the lighthouse, which was built in 1859 and is still working today. The short Cape Walk takes visitors to a wooden staircase and boardwalk that lead down to Pulpit Rock and the Devils Desk. On one side you can see the lighthouse and, on the other, spectacular coastal views. There are some nice bushwalks, including one to Bushrangers Bay. Some walkers have spotted whales in the season.
I grew up going to the Dromana Drive-in. There are three screens so you have a choice of movies. It’s a bit of a nostalgia thing – when the weather’s nice it’s good to go and have a picnic or drop into the diner for ’50s-style food.
I like wandering through the Diggers Club’s gardens and nursery at Heronswood in Dromana. The homestead is only open a few times a year but the gardens are open most days. The club runs gardening workshops such as backyard chooks or growing herbs. A lot of the produce grown here is used in the cafe.
From November to April, you can pick your own berries at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm. These strawberries are big and have heaps of flavour. They also have berry jams, sauces and freeze-dried berries all year round. Devonshire teas and homemade ice-creams are served in the cafe.
With so many wineries on the peninsula, it’s hard to pick a favourite. Foxeys Hangout has a lovely, intimate cellar door overlooking the vineyard. You can order simple share plates of good food and wine. The workshops to create your own sparkling wine blend are popular.
RACV members receive a discount of 25 per cent off accommodation rates all year round when they book direct through RACV. You will not find a better offer on any other website. To find out more, visit racv.com.au/resorts.