INSIDERS: MORNINGTON PENINSULA
GO: There’s a serene spot to take in the beauty of the Mornington Peninsula, southeast of Melbourne: many know of the attraction Arthurs Seat, but I usually head straight for the equally beautiful and always quieter Seawinds Gardens, just around the corner. Its European-style plantings open to an expansive lawn with an unrivalled view of Melbourne right around to Port Phillip Heads and beyond; visitmorningtonpeninsula.org.
EAT: In the town of Mornington, Counting House, opposite the park and just moments from the hustle and bustle of Main Street, is the perfect place to graze away the afternoon. This old bank, converted into a contemporary dining house, boasts an excellent seasonal menu with a fantastic local wine list. For the after-darkers, I recommend Two Buoys in Dromana, which serves great tapas; countinghouse.com.au; twobuoys.com.au.
EXPLORE: Head down to the Mornington Pier and introduce yourself to the crew at Bay Fish N Trips for a great day on the water. There’s nothing like the thrill of a decent Port Phillip snapper on the end of your line. For those who haven’t found their sea legs, load up on local mussels straight from the “farmer” when his boat is moored at the pier; bayfishntrips.com.au.
SHOP: Not being much of a clothes shopper, I’m happy to admit that most of my purchases tend to be of the consumable kind. Just between Mount Martha and Dromana is the tiny hamlet of Safety Beach, which is lucky to host the Italian-inspired Provincia Food Store. Along with Houghtons Fine Food, in Mornington, and La Casa Nostra Deli, in Rosebud, this is the place to buy artisanal cheese, meat and bread for a picnic on the beach; provincia.com.au.
DRINK: In the mornings I often head to Little Rebel coffee roasters in Dromana for that much-needed caffeine hit. Naturally, this should be followed by a visit to our recently opened Crittenden Wine Centre, near Dromana, for a wine tasting and perhaps even a bottle or two to take home; littlerebel.com.au; crittendenwines.com.au.
STAY: For lovers of golf and for a better look at the southern end of the peninsula, it’s hard to go past Peppers Moonah Links Resort in Fingal. The wellappointed rooms and fantastic restaurant are a stone’s throw from the famous Peninsula Hot Springs. And for fear of a trip to the dog house, I had better mention my wife’s beautiful Lakeside Villas, which she operates from our family vineyard at Crittenden Estate; moonahlinks.com.au; lakesidevillas.com.au.
Rollo Crittenden is a second-generation winemaker at Crittenden Estate, which first planted in 1982 and is now home to some of the oldest vines on the Mornington Peninsula; crittendenwines.com.au.
Insiders editor: Graham Erbacher Graham.Erbacher@news.com.au