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Mornington Peninsula
Sorrento, Mornington PeninsulaThe Mornington Peninsula extends southeast from Melbourne along the shores of Port Philip Bay. There are many popular beaches on the bay where safe swimming attracts families. The ocean beaches on the southern side of the peninsula have fine surfing. Inland, there are a growing number of wineries, where you can sample and buy wines from the cellar door. The region is also noted for its arts and crafts, markets and fresh produce. There are many opportunities to "pick your own" fruit in season or buy freshly picked produce directly from the farm gate.

The Mornington Peninsula enjoys a similar climate to Melbourne, with hot summers and cool winters. Even on the hottest day, the weather can change rapidly due to the effects of the mass of water in Port Phillip Bay.

How do I get there?
Getting to the Mornington Peninsula couldn't be simpler. The Nepean Highway sweeps southeast from inner city Melbourne and hugs the coast pretty much all the way down the peninsula. Minor roads will take you to the inland and across to the Western Port side of the peninsula, as well as to the ocean beaches. Frankston and some of the eastern towns are also accessible by train from Melbourne.

What are the main towns?
The main towns in the region include Frankston, a southern suburb of Melbourne and gateway to the region. Cranbourne is rapidly being overtaken by creeping Melbourne suburbia, but retains its own personality. The Meteor Museum in town records a famous meteor strike in the area. Hastings is close to Coolart Homestead where history and wildlife live in harmony. Mount Martha has a unique fossil beach where fossil specimens can be found which are millions of years old. Rosebud, Sorrento and Dromana are typical bayside holiday villages, while Mornington retains much of its nineteenth century finery.

Where can I stay?
For accommodation right around Port Phillip Bay, click here.

What's there to do in the region?
There is a wealth of things to do in this lovely area. Beside the bay there are many safe swimming beaches and fishing spots. On the ocean side of the peninsula there are challenging surf beaches and coastal walks, while inland there is pretty countryside, historic homesteads and cellar doors for wine tasting and sales. The region also boasts a large number of golf courses.

The southern Melbourne suburb of Frankston is the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula. Ballam Park Homestead, the first brick home in the area, has a collection of early farming machinery.

Cranbourne is the centre of a dairying area. The Meteor Museum in town records a famous meteor strike in the area in the 1860s.

Mornington has a historic pier and some gracious old buildings. A self-guided heritage walk is available. The old Post Office on the Esplanade is now a local history museum and the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery houses some fine pictures.

Between Mornington and Mount Martha lies an unusual fossil beach where exposed fossils can be seen dating back millions of years. In Mount Martha is The Briars, a National Trust property, which boasts a collection of Napoleonic memorabilia. This historic homestead has a wetland area within its grounds where waterfowl can be spotted.

At Dromana, take the scenic 20-minute chairlift ride to the top of Arthurs Seat for great views, picnic areas and bushland walks. While you're there, don't miss Seawinds Garden that has several sculptures by William Ricketts. The main concentration of wineries lies inland from Dromana around Red Hill and between Flinders and Balnarring on the eastern side of the peninsula.

Rosebud has safe swimming beaches but is also close to surf beaches. Fishing is good here, and there are cruises to the Port Phillip seal colonies. McCrae Homestead, another National Trust property, is a fine example of drop-slab construction.

Collins Settlement Historic Site in Sorrento marks the site of the first European settlement in Victoria. The town has many historic buildings and a self-guided walk leaflet is available. There is a ferry service between Sorrento and Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula. There are also cruises to the artificial Pope's Eye Marine Reserve where gannets nest as well as seal and dolphin cruises on the bay. Nearby, Portsea is an upmarket holiday location. Mornington Peninsula National Park encompasses the ocean beaches in this area. This park features a wild and rocky coastline including London Bridge, a unique rock formation near Portsea. Point Nepean and the fort at Fort Nepean can be reached by public transport, except on Bike and Hike Day once a month when the only access is by bike or foot.

Cape Schanck lies west of the little town of Flinders. The Cape Schanck lighthouse and museum are well worth a visit. Flinders itself offers great views across Western Port and Bass Strait.

Near the eastern town of Balnarring lies Coolart Homestead. This early Mornington property has extensive grounds, resident populations of koalas and possums and a wetland sanctuary with hides for birdwatching.

Hastings is a busy fishing port. There are extensive walking and cycling trails in the town. South of the town lies Australia's largest military training establishment, HMAS Cerberus, where the military museum is open on Sundays. Tyabb has many antique shops and galleries. The more northerly wineries of the Mornington Peninsula are not far away.

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