Discover the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas

For this idyllic self-driving tour from Melbourne around Port Phillip Bay, we point you towards everything from historic villages and beautiful beaches to stunning coastal scenery and local wildlife. Savour farm fresh produce, sample renowned wines, and say cheers in cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Begin and end your journey in Melbourne, and travel in either direction, crossing the waters of Port Phillip Bay on the Queenscliff–Sorrento car and passenger ferry at the halfway point.

You can up the relaxation and slow the pace by building in any number of overnight stays along the way. You won't be short of scenic accommodation options. Make the drive your own – there's abundant fun to be had on the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas.

  • Melbourne to Queenscliff

    104 km/64 miles, about 1.5 hours

    Set off early from Melbourne, heading south-west towards Victoria's second-largest city, Geelong. En route, stretch your legs at historic Werribee Park and Mansion, which will transport you back to the opulent life of wealthy early settlers.

    Pull up at Geelong's sparkling waterfront, where an art deco swimming pool, giant ferris wheel, art trail and colourful bollards line the shore. Walk, swim and, if you're ready to eat, settle in for a delicious lunch at Sailor's Rest or take your pick along fashionable Little Malop Street.

    Wine tasting is a must in the Geelong region. On the Bellarine, top stops include Scotchman's Hill and Jack Rabbit Vineyard. If you didn't eat earlier, Jack Rabbit has a popular restaurant with stunning coastal views. Alternatively, detour to Portarlington, famed home of fresh-from-the-sea bounty. Buy mussels and oysters straight from the pier and barbecue them on the shore, or enjoy mussel chowder at the iconic Little Mussel Cafe.

    The historic seaside town of Queenscliff is your next stop. Explore the Fort Queenscliff Museum, and peruse delightful shops, galleries and restaurants. Choose from a range of accommodation for the night, such as the newly refurbished Grand Hotel in nearby Portarlington.

    Take a side trip to nearby Point Lonsdale for a walk to the lighthouse, the sheltered front bay beach and the fierce waters of the Bass Strait back beach. Or visit Barwon Heads, a tranquil village that was the location for popular TV series SeaChange. Fish in the calm estuary waters, browse boutiques, or amble kilometres of sandy beach, watching the sun dip down over the Bluff.

  • Sorrento to Melbourne

    100 km/79 miles, about 2.5 hours (1 hour ferry ride and 90-minute drive)

    Queenscliff is the departure point for your ferry trip across Port Phillip Bay to the Mornington Peninsula.

    Arrive into Sorrento, where you'll want to linger amid the beautiful 19th-century limestone buildings and try excellent eateries, boutiques and galleries. Don't miss an Aussie favourite treat at the Vanilla Slice Cafe. Burn off some energy surfing Sorrento's ocean beaches, or join a tour or boat cruise to swim with dolphins and seals.

    Pause at nearby Portsea, sipping a beverage on the lawns of the Portsea Hotel, with panoramic views across the bay. Or take a walk out to Point Nepean National Park and explore the remains of Victoria's coastal defence at Fort Nepean.

    Return along the coast, cutting inland from Rosebud to the peninsula's south coast and arriving at Cape Schanck. Wild views of Bass Strait surf provide plenty of wow factor along the coastal boardwalk. Climb higher for an elevated glimpse on a guided tour of historic Cape Schanck Lighthouse.

    Eastward lies the hamlet of Flinders, where there's further opportunity to catch some gnarly surf, or kick off your shoes for beach play and a picnic with the kids. Browse the village stores for boutique shopping, and if golf's your thing, tee off at picturesque Flinders Golf Course.

    Alternatively, make for the peninsula's foodie hub around Merricks, Red Hill and Main Ridge stopping for gourmet dining or cellar-door tastings. Architectural Pt Leo Estate is an exquisitely situated winery with memorable coastal views. Dine in the award-winning restaurant or bistro, and take a post-prandial stroll in the sculpture park. Nearby Hart's Farm Retreat would make a luxurious yet bucolic overnight stay.

    Pick up seasonal organic fruit and vegetables at farm gates, and visit the Red Hill Community Market on the first Saturday of the month (September to May). Head west towards Arthurs Seat, and board the Arthurs Seat Eagle for sprawling bay vistas all the way to the city.

    Begin your drive back to Melbourne by cruising through Mornington, a lovely spot for a coffee stop, with yachts bobbing in the harbour and colourful beach boxes lining the sand. On Melbourne's outskirts, visit renowned McClelland sculpture park and gallery for works by iconic Australian painters Russell Drysdale and Fred Williams and a sculpture trail set in beautiful bushland.

    Looking for a different approach? Travel through historic fishing town Hastings, the perfect place to sign up for a fishing charter or to join a cruise of Westernport Bay.

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