So it’s that time of year again when the Peninsula becomes a hive of activity. Visitors flock to enjoy our beautiful beaches, foreshore camping, long sunny days, balmy nights, BBQ’s with friends, great cafes and the many wineries that are dotted throughout the Peninsula.
As locals we are spoilt for choice and are lucky to call this great place home, yet in the summer we sometimes find ourselves so busy with children, family, visiting relatives, work and the imminent return to school/kinder that instead of making the most of living in one of the most stunning seaside areas we simply forget to be a tourist in our own town. Let’s face it why go elsewhere over summer when over 100,000 people descend on Mornington Peninsula to enjoy our summer playground.
Here are 10 ideas to get you out and about out enjoying the Peninsula like a tourist in your home town.
- Camping on the foreshore is a tradition that has spanned generations with many campers securing camping spots within the same section year in year out. I remember families from school that lived in Rosebud and holidayed on the foreshore at Rye, they returned home to collect the mail, shower and do their washing before returning to the camp site to relax, meet up with friends and enjoy life at the beach. Such a simple concept by today’s standards but something kids never get bored of. Have a look at Point Leo camp ground, Balnarring foreshore reserve, Shoreham Beach or anywhere along the foreshore between Dromana and Sorrento. If you want some adventure than you can hike and camp at the Lightwood Camping Area in Greens Bush (no car access or toilets and a maximum of 6 people in total but it’s free).
- Bush walks and coastal walks offer a chance to get away from the crowds over the busy periods and give you the opportunity to discover some the Peninsula’s most hidden beauty. Some of my favourite walks include Bushrangers Bay, Fingal Beach, Baldry’s Crossing, Red Hill Rail Trail, the Millionaires walk, Two Bays Trail, Cape Schanck Boardwalk, Mt Martha Cliff Top walk and Balcombe Estuary Boardwalk along with any part of the Mornington Peninsula Costal walking trail which covers 100km in total.
- Piers are plentiful on the Peninsula and apart from enjoying a stroll along them with the family and ice creams in hand they are also very popular with people trying their luck at fishing. Get the kids a cheap fishing rod or reel and teach them to how to fish. Popular fishing spots include Flinders, Mornington, Rye, Crib Point and Portsea piers. Another good fishing spot, although not a pier is the well stocked Devil Bend Reservoir.
- Picnics and BBQ’s are frequently overlooked for the ease and convenience of opting for a great café but with places like Seawinds Gardens at Arthurs Seat, Coolart Homestead and Wetlands, The Briars, Devil Bend Reservoir and Sorrento Park it’s worth getting the picnic rug out to soak up the great outdoors and give the kids room to run and explore.
- Markets on the Peninsula are amongst the best you will find with the likes of the Red Hill and Mornington craft markets each having around 300 stalls, not forgetting the special Portsea Craft market held at Point Nepean. There’s also the ever popular Wednesday Mornington Street Market that operates all year round, the Mornington and Mt Eliza Farmers markets, Rosebud, Tootgarook and Boneo Primary school markets and Emu Plains to name a few.
- Cafes, restaurants and wineries are major drawcards on the Mornington Peninsula and we deliver some of the best regional food and wine you can find, not to mention coffee that is equal to city counterparts. Higher Ground in Mt Martha, Commonfolk and Flock in Mornington, Dee’s Kitchen in Dromana, Peninsula Pantry in Rye and Two Sams in Balnarring are all well known for their coffee. For the kids favourite cafés have a look at The Hungry Peacock at Tyabb, Angus and Rose at Mt Martha and Buckley’s Chance in Sorrento.
- Natural attractions are everywhere on the Peninsula but it’s hard to go past Point Nepean on a beautiful summers day. Take a walk, hire bicycles, explore the forts and tunnels at Fort Nepean, learn about the history of the Quarantine Station and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Entry to Point Nepean is free and well worth the visit.
- Play grounds keep young kids happy, active and outdoors. Mornington Park at the end of Main St has recently been upgraded with a new playground and is located just above Mothers beach. Rye Community playground on the foreshore was built by the community and is extremely popular with its beach theme. My favourite park on the Peninsula is Sorrento Park; it boasts glorious views, lush green grass, a good wooden playground and plenty of room to move. Flinders Park is another one that has been recently upgraded and is perfect when you want to escape the summer crowds and is especially good with the Flinders Bakehouse directly opposite.
- Tourist attractions are popular and plentiful with the most renowned being the Peninsula Hot Springs followed by the Enchanted Adventure Garden, Boneo Maze, Moonlit Sanctuary, Dromana Drive Inn, Gunnamatta Trail Rides, Ashcombe Maze, Main Ridge Dairy, Red Hill Brewery, Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, Mornington Historic Railway, the newly opened adventure playground and farm called ‘The Big Goose’ and Dinosaur World to name a few.
- Take time to enjoy being in the moment, whether it’s sitting on the beach at Sorrento looking across the glassy blue water towards the city skyline whilst the sun is setting. Dive into the crystal clear waters, feel the sun on your skin and the gentle see breeze as you listen to waves gently lapping on the shore. See the twinkling lights around the bay after the sun has gone down. Watch the brilliant sunrise atop of Arthurs Seat whilst the rest of the Peninsula is seemingly sleeping. Look across rolling vineyards towards Westernport with eagles flying above. Be encompassed by the roar of the ocean and let your thoughts run free. Enjoy fish and chips on the beach on a balmy evening. Discover some of the hidden nature trails that lie between the bay and the ocean. Take the time to slow down and absorb the sights and sounds of this incredible part of the world that we are lucky enough to call home.
By: LORRAINE AITKEN
As published in the Peninsula Kids Magazine, Summer 15/16 Edition. Want to read more? Click here for the online version.