A mix to soothe the soul

The Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula of­fers a feast of op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple look­ing to es­cape. Sarah Ni­chol­son re­ports on the best of the best Best for golf

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - NEWS -

FOR­GET the best in Vic­to­ria, or even the best in Aus­tralia, the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula is one of the best places in the world for golf.

While it’s hard to set­tle on an ac­tual num­ber of cour­ses – lo­cals can’t agree on how many golf clubs sit be­tween Frankston and the Bass Strait break­ers, with the count rang­ing from 18 to 28 – ev­ery­one ac­cepts it’s the sandy soil, coastal hin­ter­land, and change­able weather that make it the per­fect place to swing a club. Peter Tate, man­ager of golf op­er­a­tions at RACV Cape Schanck Re­sort, de­scribes the re­gion as ‘‘ a haven for golfers’’ with some of the world’s best course de­sign­ers drawn to the area’s pri­vate and pub­lic com­pounds.

‘‘ Peter Thom­son, Greg Norman, Robert Trent Jones Jr and Tom Doak have all de­signed cour­ses here,’’ he says.

‘‘ This whole re­gion is a sand belt, and when a course is based on sand the water drains faster, mak­ing for con­sis­tent con­di­tions on each hole, and there isn’t an­other area in the world that has a sim­i­lar se­lec­tion of world-class cour­ses so close to each other and so close to a cap­i­tal city.’’

Peter Thom­son de­signed the Open Course at Moonah Links, with the cir­cuit play­ing host to the Aus­tralian Open in 2003 and 2005, and vis­i­tors can play holes de­signed to chal­lenge the best.

The Dunes and St An­drews Beach are two fine ex­am­ples of nat­u­ral sand belt links, there are ocean views from 12 holes at Cape Schanck, Flin­ders is perched on the cliffs above West­ern Port Bay, and Port­sea is ranked 44th on the list of the coun­try’s best cour­ses.

When it comes to rank­ings you can’t go past The Na­tional Golf Club – one of Aus­tralia’s most ex­clu­sive and pres­ti­gious of­fer­ings, and the only one in the coun­try boast­ing three cour­ses in­side a vast boundary – and the Old Course, Moonah Course and Ocean Course are all ranked in­side the top 40.

Best for gar­dens

Vic­to­ria is known as the Garden State, and the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula is home to gen­er­a­tions of green thumbs that have toiled to cre­ate cap­ti­vat­ing out­door spa­ces. The McClel­land Gallery and Sculp­ture Park is a 16ha space – half is land­scaped to com­ple­ment the nat­u­ral bush that oc­cu­pies the rest of the block – that’s home to more than 100 per­ma­nent works of art, with the ar­ray of mod­ern and tra­di­tional mon­u­ments scat­tered through the gar­dens.

The ca­sual Lang­war­rin com­pound, con­sid­ered to be the only ‘‘ large and per­ma­nent’’ out­door sculp­ture park in Aus­tralia, is free and fam­ily friendly with lots of spots be­side the lake or un­der the gum trees to pic­nic be­tween sor­ties around the grounds to gaze at the in­ven­tive creations.

Heronswood in nearby Dro­mana, which is home to The Dig­gers Club and an ex­ten­sive nurs­ery, is a tra­di­tional garden, with the crew main­tain­ing the grounds around the 1860s house plant­ing sea­sonal dis­plays to show what can be done with the vast ar­ray of seeds on sale in the shop.

An­other patch of land worth see­ing is the Aus­tralian Garden in Cran­bourne where a spray of na­tives have been ar­ranged to sim­u­late the land­scapes of the con­ti­nent’s dry heart.

Shore­ham is home to Ash­combe Maze & Laven­der Gar­dens, you will find the En­chanted Maze Garden in Arthurs Seat, and those look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle more per­sonal can stroll the Port­sea Artists’ Trail – also known as Mil­lion­aires Walk – to see

MYR­IAD DE­LIGHTS: (clockwise from left) Play a round at Flin­ders Golf Club; Ash­combe Maze& Laven­der Gar­dens; the Spa Dream­ing Cen­tre’s pri­vate pools at Penin­sula Hot Springs; and the En­chanted Maze Garden in Arthurs Seat.

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