The Mornington Peninsula – the boot-shaped area of land between Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay – has been Melbourne’s summer playground since the 1870s, when paddle steamers ran down to Portsea. Today, much of the interior farming land has been replaced by vineyards and orchards – foodies love the peninsula, where a winery lunch is a real highlight – but it still retains lovely stands of native bushland.
The calm ‘front beaches’ are on the Port Phillip Bay side, where families holiday at bayside towns from Mornington to Sorrento. The rugged ocean ‘back beaches’ face Bass Strait and are easily reached from Portsea, Sorrento and Rye; there are stunning walks along this coastal strip, part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park.
The bay heads are so close that it’s just a short hop by ferry across from Sorrento to Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula.