Touring the Bellarine and Mornington peninsulas
233 km/144 miles, about 4 hours
Take in everything from historic villages and beautiful beaches to stunning coastal scenery and local wildlife on a relaxing drive around Port Phillip Bay. Savour farm fresh produce, sample renowned wines, and while away the time 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 along the way.
Melbourne to Queenscliff
104 km/64 miles, about 1.5 hours
Head out of Melbourne along the Princes Freeway towards Geelong. Stop at Werribee's historic mansion to gain a fascinating insight into the opulent life of wealthy early settlers.
On arrival in Geelong take a walk along the colourful waterfront and check out the caricature bollards before settling in for a delicious seafood lunch.
Continue on to Queenscliff to sample local wines at wineries such as Scotchmans Hill, or Jack Rabbit Vineyard, which has a popular restaurant with stunning coastal views. Take a detour to Portarlington and enjoy lunch at one of the many great cafes or buy fresh mussels straight from the pier and barbecue them yourself on the shore.
Next stop is the grand old seaside town of Queenscliff. Explore the historic fort along with the excellent shops, galleries and restaurants. Choose from a wide range of accommodation, including magnificently restored nineteenth century hotels. Queenscliff is also the departure point for the car and passenger ferry that crosses the bay regularly each day.
Take a side trip to nearby Point Lonsdale for a walk to the lighthouse, the sheltered beach and fierce waters of Bass Strait. Alternatively, visit Barwon Heads, a tranquil fishing village that was the location for the popular SeaChange TV series, and a great place to fish the calm estuary waters or amble along kilometres of sandy beaches.
HighlightsFood & wineGeelong wine regionExplore the Geelong wine region's diverse sub-regions from surf coast to volcanic plains making its food, wine and landscape resist any label.Maritime historyQueenscliff HarbourQueenscliff Harbour is a destination in itself and being a working harbour there is always something to see and do. The 250 berth marina is home to the...History & heritageWerribee Park and MansionSmell the roses - all 5000 varieties - in the magnificent grounds of the Victoria's largest private residence, pausing to admire the pastoral style.SwimmingEastern BeachDive into the art deco swimming enclosure, take a scenic stroll along the boardwalk, or hit the kids' pool in Geelong's spectacular summer playground.DestinationsPoint LonsdaleWitness ocean and bay waters collide at the notorious entrance to Port Phillip Bay, then enjoy more peaceful pursuits along the foreshore.
Sorrento to Melbourne
100 km/79 miles, about 2.5 hours (includes 1 hour ferry ride and 1.5 drive)
Climb aboard the ferry across the bay to the Mornington Peninsula and kick off the second part of your journey.
Linger in Sorrento where beautiful nineteenth-century limestone buildings house excellent eateries, boutiques, galleries and specialist shops. Surf at Sorrento's ocean beaches, join a tour or boat cruise to swim with dolphins and seals, or cast a line on a fishing cruise out in the bay.
Pause for a few hours at nearby Portsea and enjoy a drink on the lawns of the famous Portsea Pub, which boasts panoramic views of the bay. Take a walk out to Point Nepean and explore the remains of Victoria's coastal defence at Fort Nepean.
Turn north back along the coast to Rosebud and from there cross over to the other side of the peninsula, arriving at Cape Schanck. Follow the boardwalks and take in stunning views of the wild surf of Bass Strait. If you've got some extra time, go on a guided tour of the historic Cape Schanck Lighthouse.
Continue along the Westernport Bay side of the peninsula to the nineteenth-century fishing hamlet of Flinders. Have a surf or take the kids to the beach, have lunch in style, and then hit the village stores for great boutique shopping. Make time for a round of golf at the scenic Flinders Golf course overlooking Bass Strait.
If wine and sculpture are more your style, continue on to Pt Leo Estate and stop here for lunch. Dine in their award winning restaurant or bistro and take a stroll in the sculpture park on site.
Travel inland towards Arthurs Seat with its exceptional views extending from the bay to the city. Drive through Red Hill, Merricks and Main Ridge stopping for lunch and cellar doors tastings. Stock up on seasonal organic fruit and vegetables at farm gates across the region, or pop by the famous Red Hill market on the first Saturday of the month (September to May).
After exploring Red Hill return to the beach road and amble back to Melbourne taking in the coastal scenery along the way. Cruise through Mornington and have a coffee overlooking the yachts bobbing in the harbour and the colourful beach boxes lining the sand.
Stop on the city's outskirts at Frankston and visit the renowned McClelland Gallery+Sculpture Park. See works by painters Russell Drysdale and Fred Williams, or stroll through the sculpture park for art in a beautiful bushland setting.
Looking for a different approach? Travel via Hastings, an historic fishing town and a good place to sign up for a fishing charter or join a cruise of Westernport Bay.
HighlightsNature and wildlifeBeaches and coastlinesCrash into the waters of the peninsula's seemingly endless sandy bay inlets and rugged, wild surf beaches and feel a million miles from city life.Food & wineMornington Peninsula wine regionSample your way around Peninsula's boutique cellar doors for the region's renowned pinot noir, plus chardonnay, shiraz, pinot gris and pinot grigio.Heritage buildingsCape Schanck LighthouseClimb the stone steps to the lamp room of one of the oldest lighthouses in Victoria and look out over the blue waters of Bass Strait from the balcony.National parks & reservesPoint Nepean National ParkJourney to the tip of the Mornington Peninsula to Point Nepean National Park and explore its rugged coastline, natural beauty and military history.Art galleriesMcClelland Sculpture Park + GalleryVisit the home of Australian Sculpture, located 45 minutes from Melbourne at the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula. The McClelland story began in the...MarketsRed Hill Community MarketSince 1975 the iconic Red Hill Community Market is the place to be on the first Saturday of the month from September to May. Stallholders are masters of...
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