Mornington Peninsula the top spot for COVID-safe day trips or short stays

Looking for a wonderful day out in the fresh air, with open spaces and a variety of options? You can’t go wrong with the Mornington Peninsula. Offering a range of activities and experiences perfect for mature travellers that are COVID-safe, affordable and above all, enjoyable, it’s the perfect location for a day trip or short stay.

Just an hour from the Melbourne CBD by car, visitors can also get there free over weekends and public holidays with Western Port Ferries by showing their Seniors Card to the ticketing crew.

Read more: Best day trips from Melbourne

Enjoy the view
Start your day with an incredible view of the region aboard one of the Arthurs Seat Eagle’s blue gondolas, taking in expansive views of Port Phillip Bay and the city that you simply can’t get anywhere else. The aerial gondolas are operating with windows off to ensure good airflow and fresh blankets are available for cooler days.

Treat yourself to one of the Eagle’s picnic packages containing a variety of goodies from local producers at nearby Seawinds Gardens. Arthurs Seat Eagle’s gondolas are spacious and wheelchair accessible; accessible parking is available too.

Don’t forget a camera as you coast over spectacular outlooks and native bushland. Grab morning tea or a light bite at The Eagle Café located at the summit (open daily from 10am) or browse the gift shop, which stocks local produce, gifts, arts and crafts.

Open seven days a week, Arthurs Seat Eagle offers discounted return ticket rates with a Seniors Card for $21 per person.

Treat yourself
From open-air dining to some of the freshest produce, farm gates and quality wineries, the Mornington Peninsula is a go-to destination for indulging in the tastier things in life.

Red Hill Truffles offer truffle hunts during the autumn months where you can stroll the grounds and, with truffle dog Thomas’s assistance, find a truffle. The truffle hunt lasts for approximately two hours and is a leisurely stroll. The tour, tasting and hunt come as a package at $150 per person.

Sip some of the region’s finest wines at Montalto, with its courtyards and outdoor sculpture park that double as the perfect place for a picnic. Picnics are available for purchase and can be booked seven days a week from 11am to 4pm. Montalto offers 10 exclusive picnic sites around the winery for groups of two to 10 people that are not available to visitors outside Montalto. For $100 per person, they set up the picnic tables with umbrellas, white linen, tableware and glassware, while you bring your appetite for a three-course picnic, tea and coffee included.

Alternatively, go on a farm-gate tour and collect some of the Peninsula’s finest produce. Stop at locations such as Pure Peninsula Honey and learn about how fresh honey is made and collected onsite (and get a look inside a working hive). At the farm gate shop, you’ll find a huge selection of honey varieties, beeswax products and honey-flavoured ice-cream kiosk. At Main Ridge Dairy, you can spend the day with a selection of cheese made from goat’s milk produced at their farm. Sample and shop in the cheesery or join the local goats for a stroll around the grounds.

Nearby Torello Farm offers a one-stop shop for a wide variety of locally grown fruit, vegetables and gourmet goods. Here you can browse the freshest in-season produce and stock up on plenty of goodies to enjoy later. Open seven days a week from 8am-6pm.

Read more: Key Victorian destinations are open and need the support of visitors more than ever

Stay active
If you love the outdoors, the Mornington Peninsula offers a number of ways to enjoy the local wildlife, beautiful gardens and the natural surrounds.

Keen to hit the green? There are 15 golf courses to choose from, each with varying terrain and entry fees including popular courses such as Eagle Ridge, The Dunes and Bayview Golf.

Alternatively, put on your comfiest walking shoes and take to the Bushrangers Bay Trail. It’s a gentle and picturesque hike from the Cape Schanck Lighthouse to Bushrangers Bay, with incredible coastal scenery along the (roughly) 3km trail. Keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos and plenty of birdlife.

Anglers can hire a boat and hit the bay for a day out with Jillian Fishing Trips. On board a classic fishing boat, The Sea Eagle fishers enjoy a relaxing four-hour trip on Port Phillip Bay. All fishing equipment, including bait is provided along with hot and cold drinks. Your catch is expertly cleaned and fileted to take home with you and, weather permitting, there’s a quick stop for a visit to a local seal colony on your return home. You’re guaranteed to catch a fish, or your trip is free. Adults are $70 and seniors get a discounted rate of $50 per trip.

Stroll the gardens
Depending on the time of year you visit, there’s always something different in bloom to enjoy. If you’re visiting with the grandchildren, the Enchanted Adventure Garden boasts three hedge mazes, a Japanese garden as well as zip lines and plenty of activities for children of all ages. Seniors get discounted entry rates.

For something a little quieter with the little ones, try a picnic at Cruden Farm with its gorgeous gardens and more than 100 lemon-scented gum trees. There’s a sculpture park with free entry for children and plenty of space for them to play. The farm, with its manicured gardens, was gifted to the public following the death of its former owner, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.

Throughout the year, the various gardens come to life and change dramatically so there’s always something new to see. Once a month on a Sunday, Cruden Farm welcomes visitors to explore both the gardens and farm on a tour or just to take a leisurely stroll and appreciate the surrounds. Adult tickets are currently at a discounted rate of $10 and children may enter free with an adult.

Avid gardeners should also put nearby Heronswood House and Garden on their itinerary. The historic two-acre property located in Dromana not only has a stunning garden but it’s the home of the Digger’s Club – Australia’s most respected gardening organisation. Any day of the week you can wander the garden, get plenty of garden advice and tips at the garden shop or enjoy a bite in the café inside Heronswood House. The seasonal menu focuses on fresh, locally-sourced produce from the Peninsula.

Have you visited the Mornington Peninsula? What’s your favourite spot/activity?

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Written by Gwen Luscombe