By Julia Swift
Winter days don’t have to be spent inside and the Mornington Peninsula has a great range of places to explore, run that excess energy off the kids and fill your tum with soul warming foods.
This is a half day trip, as we all love those slow morning starts in winter, staying in our PJ’s that little longer.
11.30am: We started this day about 11.30 at a Peninsula favourite, Ashcombe Maze, located in Shoreham. Did you know Ashcombe Maze is Australia’s oldest hedge maze?
The foundations for the hedge maze were laid by John and Sally Daly in the late 1970’s making it almost 50 years old. Since then a Rose Maze, Lavender Labyrinth and display gardens have also been established.
Winter is a beautiful time to visit the maze, with the flowering Winter Roses and Rhododendrons adding lush colours to the gardens. Late winter is where the real magic happens when more than two million bluebell flowers line the grounds underneath the woodland tree area.
We spent almost three hours exploring the grounds, including a break at the Ashcombe café for a light lunch. Enjoy a pastry or get the indulgence platter to share as a family (yum). The café prices are very reasonable, with a great kids’ menu.
Firstly the kids loved running though the towering hedge mazes, letting their imagination run wild whilst trying to find the centre and then their way out. We emerged from the south maze into the magical centre garden, with the beautiful fountain in the middle, colourful flowers and edged by the lush green hedges; it’s like you are in a fairytale castle garden.
The kids then started the gnome and fairy hunt, with gnomes scattered amongst the top gardens and fairies hiding in the lower woodlands grove. They loved searching for them between the paths, high up in the trees, and nestled in the flowers. (Kept them busy for quite a while hehe)
From Ashcombe Maze we headed down to Red Hill Cellar and Pantry for coffees and hot chocolates for the kids. If time and weather allows, just across the road is a nice kid’s playground, where they can have some more fun.
4pm: The walk we included was at Endeavour Fern Gully and as the name suggests it is a walk into a gully surrounded by native bush land and green ferns. This 45 minute – 1 hour loop walk starts downhill into the gully. It’s a mix of dirt paths and boardwalk. It can be slightly on the damp side in winter and I did find it slightly overgrown and in need of a good tidy up, but in saying that, it was a nice easy walk for the kids that they loved exploring with towering gums and the mix of green ferns.
A winter’s day on the Peninsula isn’t complete without a delicious warming feast at Red Gum BBQ! Head here around 5.00pm for an early dinner. Open Wednesday to Sunday, you instantly feel cozy and at home when you walk through the door. Located in Red Hill, this old truck mechanic’s/come American BBQ barn is simply stunning.
With big wooden tables perfect for big or small families, lovely styling and the kids play corner, it really is a perfect place for dinner. Best of all for winter, it’s always warm inside. Martin, known as ‘The Pit Master’ is passionate about his meats, which are just mouth-watering. Starting off at the end of 2013, Red Gum BBQ has grown from a trailer cooking at local markets, to the big barn restaurant in Red Hill it is today. Martin and Melissa are fantastic people, and eating here will give you a very clear understanding as to how they have grown their business so successfully. Their USA BBQ meats knowledge is brilliant, thanks to their extensive research, including travelling on their Southern Lovin BBQ tour in 2016. And just recently they have upgraded their meat smokers to big, well designed and thought out smokers. You can read more about their story on their website.
One thing I love about Red Gum BBQ is that it combines yummy American cooking, with local beers and wines from our magnificent Peninsula. We took part in a feast of pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken, mixed pickles, mac and cheese (my kids fav) coleslaw, chips, and corn bread! Oh, and the pork sliders for the kids! If you think we rolled out of here, you are right!
Julia is a flight attendant and local Mornington Peninsula mum of two young kids.
Travelling is her passion, and now with the kids it’s just a fine balancing act of travelling on age appropriate trips, the whole family can enjoy.