Australia // Melbourne and around //

The Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula curves right around Port Phillip Bay, culminating in Point Nepean, well to the southwest of Melbourne. The shoreline facing the bay is beach-bum territory, though the well-heeled denizens of Sorrento and Portsea, at the tip of the peninsula, might well resent that tag. On the largely straight, ocean-facing coast, Mornington Peninsula National Park encompasses some fine seascapes, with several walking trails marked out. The western side of the peninsula facing the shallow waters of Western Port Bay (and French and Phillip islands) has a much quieter, rural feel. Heading north from the pleasant township of Flinders the coastline of rocky cliffs flattens out to sandy beaches, while north of Stony Point are mudflats and saltmarshes lined by white mangroves: not particularly visually appealing but an internationally recognized and protected habitat for migratory waterbirds. Further inland, the area around Arthurs Seat and Red Hill is probably the most scenic: a bucolic landscape of rolling hills, orchards and paddocks. This is also where the bulk of the peninsula’s two hundred or so vineyards are located. They produce superb, if pricey, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/Gris and Pinot Noir wines. As in the Yarra Valley, good restaurants, especially winery restaurants, have proliferated on the peninsula in recent years, some of them in truly spectacular settings.