The Mornington Peninsula is a popular area to visit from Melbourne and enjoy beaches, wineries, gardens and outdoor activities. The peninsula has stunning views along the coastline and inland. It is a great place for a day trip or an extended vacation. Your days can be filled with food, wine, sand and adventure.
You can get to Mornington Peninsula on public transport or with a tour, but I highly recommend driving there yourself. You’ll have much more freedom and be able to control how you use your time, which will allow you to see so much more of the area. And there is plenty to see! The center of the peninsula is filled with vineyards, orchards, berry farms and peaks with great views; while the coast has lovely beaches, interesting walking paths and incredible lookouts.
Where to Go, What to Do
If you are looking for adventure, visit the Enchanted Adventure Garden for zip lining, tube sliding and mazes. Or if you’d prefer beautiful gardens and a hedge maze, head to the Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens. There are also a number of horseback rides available for exploring the region. The Mornington Peninsula has numerous national parks and walking trails if you’d prefer to see the area on foot and work up a sweat while taking in stunning views.
After getting your adrenaline pumping during these adventurous outings, you can head to the Peninsula Hot Springs for some rest and relaxation. Enjoy the public baths or get a massage or beauty treatment at the spa. Alternatively, treat yourself to a little retail therapy at any of the numerous shops in the towns throughout the Mornington Peninsula. There are also plenty of wineries to pop into for a visit as well as a bounty of delicious eateries to stop in for a snack or meal.
I’ve visited the Mornington Peninsula on two day trips from Melbourne and really enjoyed its beautiful towns and natural surroundings both times. There are so many spots worth visiting in Mornington Peninsula that it can be hard to choose where to go. Anywhere you go will surely be great, but here are some of my favorite places.
Flinders Blowhole is located on the southern portion of the peninsula near the small town Flinders. Blowhole Track, which is the small road to access the blowhole, is easy to miss when driving along the main road, so be sure to know approximate distances from where you are driving so you can keep a sharp lookout for the small street sign. The road is unpaved, but it is just a few hundred meters from the main road to the car park. You’ll get incredible views of Bass Strait, the bit of sea between mainland Australia and Tasmania, and Elephant Rock from the parking lot.
The blowhole is a short walk along a wooden boardwalk and stairs. It is an easy walk, but does have several steps. Depending on the tide, you’ll be able to walk along the rocks near the blowhole and explore many tide pools. You’ll also get a better view of the blowhole when walking around the rocks, but use caution, because the ocean can swell up and wash you away at any time.
Point Nepean is located on the northwest tip of the Mornington Peninsula and is a place of historical significance. It was a defensive area for the military during both world wars and had several military forts, tunnels and gun batteries. Fort Nepean is one of the most famous military locations in Australia, because it is considered the point where Australia fired its first shots during both World War I and World War II. Point Nepean is also home to the Quarantine Station, which has numerous heritage buildings, and the Point Nepean Cemetery, which was established in 1854 to replace the Quarantine Station Cemetery where bodies were unearthed from beach erosion.
The furthest you can drive into Point Nepean is the Gunners Cottage, which is just about halfway between Fort Nepean and Quarantine Station. You can catch a shuttle bus from Quarantine Station or Gunners Cottage and get a ride to the points of interest along the way to Fort Nepean. The bus is $10 for a hop-on hop-off service on the day of purchase. Tickets can be purchased from the driver via cash or credit card. The bus departs from Quarantine Station about every half hour from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Visit the site for current timetables and shuttle bus stops.
Alternatively, you can walk to Fort Nepean from either starting point. There are several walking tracks in Point Nepean with varying landscape and points of interest along the way. Most of the walks are easy and several are wheelchair accessible. We decided to take the jaunt to Observatory Point. It has incredible views of Port Phillip Bay and the actual point of Point Nepean. You will also see the remnants of the former cattle quarantine jetty, which gives a haunting but beautiful glimpse into the past.
Fingal Picnic Area
The Fingal Picnic Area is located on the southwest coast of Mornington Peninsula near Cape Schanck. It is a great spot to enjoy nature and eat some lunch. The area has electric barbecues, toilets and several picnic tables set in a large forest with tall trees.
There are also several walking tracks nearby. The trails lead to Selwyn Lookout (700 m), Fingal Beach (1.5 km), Gunnamatta Beach (4.8 km) and the Cape Schanck Lighthouse (2.8 km). However, unlike most nature trails in Australia, the paths at Fingal Picnic Area are poorly labeled, so be sure you are aware of where you are headed and how to get back. I’m honestly not sure what trail we ended up on, but we did get a few glimpses of the coastline from between the many trees and shrubs along the path. And keep an eye out for wildlife. We saw a Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard and several birds during our walk.
Arthurs Seat is the highest peak of Mornington Peninsula and offers incredible views of Port Phillip Bay and the peninsula. The mountain was named by Lieutenant John Murray in 1802. The summit also has a large green chair, which is appropriately labeled Arthur’s Seat. There are also several picnic spots in the area. Arthurs Seat is located near the peninsula’s north coast in the western third of Mornington Peninsula. While the view from the summit is stunning, I think the views from Murray’s Lookout, which was established in 1929 to commemorate the man who named the mountain, just down the road are even better. There are less trees in the foreground, which provides a more expansive view with less interruptions.
Dromana is one of my favorite little towns on the Mornington Peninsula. It is a charming town with a nice beach, colorful bathing boxes and my favorite café, Dee’s Kitchen.
The café has delicious food, tasty coffee and friendly staff. It is a great little spot and a wonderful place for a quick snack or lengthy meal while visiting the peninsula. They have a deli, an extensive menu and lots of yummy desserts. Make sure you try the sticky date pudding; it is scrumptious! Dromana is on the northern coast of Mornington Peninsula, just northeast of Arthurs Seat.
Figure out ahead of time what you want to see in Mornington Peninsula so you can pick the most practical route to optimize your time. But don’t stick to a rigid schedule. Some of the best views we had were from stopping at different lookout points and beaches along the road. And don’t stress about petrol or food; there are several towns in the peninsula where you can stop and refuel your car and your bellies.