Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula has a long history of being a favourite holiday destination for residents of Melbourne. Popular tourism times are; long weekends such as Cup Weekend and Queens Birthday, the week involving Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years, with the months of December and January being the peak tourist period. The bay beaches of Mornington Peninsula are ideal for family bathings and picnics, as evidenced by the many families that come here from Melbourne on weekends for a day outing. On the way from Melbourne, Arthurs Seat at Dromana offers panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay.

There are some 50 wineries on the peninsula, offering cellar door tastings and sales. Many have or are near restaurants and cafes set in beautifully landscaped gardens and on terraces overlooking the vines. A wine-tasting can stretch into lunch or dinner, and then into an overnight stay. Hidden along our hinterland roads are European-style country retreats, intimate hotels, cottages and charming B&Bs. The coastal accommodation includes beachside luxury in contemporary suites, limestone-and-lace B&Bs and heritage hotels, all with a bonus of fresh sea breezes.

Best Time To Go: The peninsula is a Mediterranean-like coastline, not only in its looks but its climate, which makes it an all-year-round destination. Because of its position, the weather is always milder than Melbourne. If you want to escape the locals crowds, avoid weekends and public holidays, otherwise visit the peninsula at any time.

How to get there: Drive south from Melbourne via Nepean Highway past Frankston.

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About the Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is a peninsula located south-east of Melbourne, Australia. It is surrounded by Port Phillip to the west, Western Port to the east and Bass Strait to the south, and is connected to the mainland in the north. Geographically, the peninsula begins its protrusion from the mainland in the area between Pearcedale and Frankston. The area was originally home to the Mayone-bulluk and Boonwurrung-Balluk clans and formed part of the Boonwurrung nation's territory prior to European settlement.

Much of the peninsula has been cleared for agriculture and settlements. However, small areas of the native ecology remain in the peninsula's south and west, some of which is protected by the Mornington Peninsula National Park. In 2002, around 180,000 people lived on the peninsula and in nearby areas, most in the small towns on its western shorelines which are sometimes regarded as outlying suburbs of greater Melbourne; there is a seasonal population of around 270,000.

The peninsula is primarily a local tourist region, with popular natural attractions such as the variety of beaches both sheltered and open-sea and many scenic sights and views. Other popular attractions include the various wineries, mazes and the diverse array of water sports made available by the diversity of beaches and calm waters of Port Phillip and Western Port. Most visitors to the peninsula are residents of Melbourne who camp, rent villas and share houses or stay in private beach houses. It is known simply as "The Peninsula" to locals and Melburnians alike, giving rise to the expression "going down the peninsula".

Accommodation on the Peninsula

Wealthier visitors to the peninsula usually own beach houses on large properties or with extensive views or beach access and as a result, there are very few established commercial hotels. There are however, many smaller motels priced to suit families and middle income earners. Large shared beach houses are also popular, although perhaps the most popular form of accommodation lie in the many caravan parks and camping grounds where many visitors own or rent on-site caravans and annexes or camp in tents.

Camping is particularly popular on foreshore reserves where camping is permitted. Some visitors continuously book particular sites and many camping grounds have been camped on by the same family for 2 or 3 generations. For the unestablished tourist, these camping grounds must be booked anywhere from 1 to 5 years in advance for foreshore sites, while further inland sites are more easily available with at most a 3 to 6 month wait. It is estimated that around 30 40% of the houses on the peninsula are not owned by permanent residents, reflecting the popularity of owned beach houses. Most of these 'beach houses' are owned by residents of Melbourne.

Localities of the Peninsula

Though not on the peninsula itself, the Melbourne suburb of Frankston is the coastal entrance to it.

A seaside resort town, Mornington is known for its village atmosphere and beautiful beaches. Mornington is a popular tourist destination with Melburnians who often make day trips to visit the area's bay beaches and wineries.

Mount Martha
Located on the south-eastern shores of Port Phillip, Mt Martha has a popular bathing beach. A boardwalk winds its way for more than 5 kilometres along Balcombe Creek to the Briars Historic Park.

A seaside restort near the end of Mornington Peninsula, its bay beach is popular with swimmers, fishermen, yachtsmen and kitesurfers. Its ocean beach (which is not patrolled) is also popular with surfers.

Arthurs Seat
Inland from the bayside town of Dromana, Arthurs Seat offers commanding views across port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula.

Situated at the foot of Arthurs Seat, Dromana is both a holiday resort and a residential area, that is that known for its fine beaches.

Sorrento is a popular and attractive seaside settlement located 91 km south-west of Melbourne, near the western tip of the Mornington Peninsula. In summer it is transformed from a relatively quiet village to a frenetic and fashionable holiday resort.

Portsea is a popular holiday spot, located near the end of the Mornington Peninsula between the calm waters of Port Phillip and the wild surf of Bass Strait. Portsea is considered by many to be the hub of Melbourne's recreational scuba diving activities.

A small seaside town on the eastern side of Mornington Peninsula, situated where Western Port meets Bass Strait. This area is popular for beach swimming, sailing, fishing, and other watersports.

Hastings is situated on an inlet on Western Port, a major port and important environmental area. Hastings has multiple marinas and is home to many recreational boating activities.

Crib Point
A locality on Western Port, which is served by three railway stations: Morradoo, Crib Point and Stony Point, the latter of which is the terminus of the greater-metropolitan Stony Point line and port for the French Island ferry.

Attractions; Places of Interest

Point Nepean
The southernmost point of Morningrton Peninsula, it was a restricted defence and military area for many years. It is now open to public access.

Arthurs Seat
Inland from the bayside town of Dromana, Arthurs Seat offers commanding views across port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula.

Peninsula Walks
Walks of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty, covering the bayside and ocean coasts, and inland areas.

Ocean Beaches
The closest surf beaches to the City of Melbourne are found on the ocean side of the Mornington Peninsula.

Bayside Beaches
Cleaned daily by ocean currents which scour Port Phillip Bay, the bayside beaches are excellent for calm water bathing.

Moonlight Sanctuary
An award winning wildlife park, Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park vonsists of 10 hectares of bushland, where visitors can meet endangered species, feed kangaroos and wallabies, pet koalas and encounter many other animals. At night, Moonlit Sanctuary comes alive with its popular lantern-lit tours.

Moorooduc Quarry Flora and Fauna Reserve
An award winning wildlife park, consisting of 10 hectares of bushland, where visitors can meet endangered species, feed kangaroos and wallabies, pet koalas and encounter many birds and animals. At night, Moonlit Sanctuary comes alive with its popular lantern-lit tours.

Mornington Railway
Heritage broad-gauge railway operating on the Peninsula between Moorooduc and Mornington. The Railway operates both Steam and Diesel locomotives and heritage passenger cars.

Mornington Wine Region
Scattered across the coastal regions and back into the hinterland, 150 vineyards, with 50 wineries offering cellar door, produce a variety of pinot noir, pinot gris, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.

Point Nepean fortifications

Kings Waterfall Circuit Walk

Cheviot Beach

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