Go Beyond Melbourne
Day 3: Phillip Island to Mornington Peninsula
105 km/65 miles, about 1 hour
Firstly, farewell Phillip Island's koalas face-to-face from the treetop boardwalk at the Koala Conservation Sanctuary and journey out to tiny Churchill Island for a taste of local history and local delicacies from the thriving farmers' market.
Then you're on your way, ready to wind around the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay through seaside villages with vast ocean views and sheltered beaches with colourful bathing boxes. You can travel from top to toe of the Mornington Peninsula in around 30 minutes, or longer if you stop at every winery, farm gate, gallery, garden, day spa and golf course that takes your fancy.
Follow the rolling hills of the hinterland to Red Hill and Main Ridge's boutique wineries, where you can chat with passionate winemakers about their famed regional pinot noir, cool-climate chardonnay, pinot grigio and pinot gris.
Lunch is a serious decision on the peninsula. Winery restaurants tucked among the vines serve homegrown wines matched with mouth-watering creations made from local harvests. Settle in for a long lunch at Montalto, Port Phillip Estate, T'Gallant or Ten Minutes by Tractor for gastronomic enlightenment.
Await sunset on the beaches of Dromana, Rosebud or Rye, then set off for a lantern-lit tour of Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park. See owls, endangered gliders, quolls, bettongs and even wallabies frolic in the night. Ask about the Mornington Peninsula Attractions Pass for discounted entry into Moonlit Sanctuary and a host of other peninsula sights.
From beachfront campsites to luxury cliff top villas, there's accommodation to suit your style and budget. Consider the Big Blue Backyard beach hideaway, the cosy fireplaces at Blue Moon Cottages, the plush facilities at Woodman Estate, the vineyard lodge at Tussie Mussie Vineyard Retreat, or the excellent value of the Best Western Plus Brooklands of Mornington.