The Mornington Peninsula is south-east of Melbourne, surrounded by Port Phillip, Western Port Bay and Bass Strait. It is a much-loved destination for tourists and locals wanting a break, offering sheltered and open-sea beaches and resorts.
The Getaway crew drove the Peninsula across from Melbourne and up the Bellarine Peninsula back to Melbourne.
First stop was the Ashcombe Maze in Shoreham, just an hour from their starting point. The hedge maze is Australia's largest and oldest, planted in the 1970s. It now stands over three metres high and is two metres wide.
The beautifully scented Lavender Labyrinth has more than 3000 plants of 40 varieties of lavender and covers one kilometre of pathway. It blooms year-round. In fact, the whole property has been cleverly planned and planted to assure there is beauty everywhere, whatever the season.
Ashcombe's Rose Maze is the oldest in the world. It has 1200 bushes of 217 varieties, chosen for their colour and perfume.
Themed gardens cover over 10 hectares and visitors delight in seeing the various displays Deciduous Woodlands, Rock Garden, Summer Centre and Pot Garden.
The Water Gardens are made up of fountains and water features, waterfalls and a meandering stream. Everyone can hunt for hidden gnomes throughout the gardens, and there are mystery puzzles and activities for all ages.
Ashcombe's Café, set amongst the mazes and gardens, is built of hand-made mud bricks and has vaulted ceilings and towering windows.
The Queenscliff-Sorrento twin-hull car and passenger ferries criss-cross the southern end of Port Phillip Bay 24 times a day, every day of the year. Able to carry up to 700 passengers and 80 vehicles each, they were designed to operate in all weather conditions. The crossing takes 40 minutes, and if you spot dolphins during that time, there is no extra cost!
There are plenty of towns at your destination on the Bellarine Peninsula, and the Getaway crew chose to visit the historic seaside village of Portarlington. A backdrop of gently rising hills overlooks vineyards, olive groves, Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne's skyline and the You Yangs.
Portarlington is a centre of fishing and mussel aquaculture, earning it the mantle as Victoria's mussel capital. Those in the know go there just for a bowl of the freshly cooked delights.
The Ol'Duke Hotel, the first in Portarlington, was built in 1855 as accommodation and restaurant. It has also served as a hospital and police station. The current owners have retained its old-world charm and original architectural features but it is sufficiently contemporary to please today's requirements.
There are six luxurious rooms and two converted stables, restaurant, ballroom and al fresco dining for warm summer nights. Open fires create a cosy atmosphere in cold months.
Of course, mussels are served year-round, and there is always a wide choice of other fresh seafood. Locally grown vegetables, berries and other delicious fruits are used, and it is so popular you really need to book.
The area's cool climate and fertile volcanic soils are perfect for growing grapes with intense flavour and consistently high quality. The family owned Scotchmans Hill vineyard and winery was established in 1982 by its current owners, David and Vivienne Browne. Since their first vintage in 1986 the winery has expanded sales throughout Australia and exports to 10 countries. They produces riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz.
The region's role in the development of the Australian wine industry began in 1842 when vines were planted by Swiss immigrants. It flourished, and by 1869 there were over 400 hectares planted and 250 vine growing hectares remain today.
Visitors to Scotchmans Hill can enjoy a glass of wine on a shady verandah or in winter by a cosy open fire. There are tours of the vineyard and winery conducted by knowledgeable staff, and appointments for these are necessary.
Victoria's Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas.
Best Western Australia has a range of hotels and motels on the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas starting at $110 a night.
Ashcombe Maze admission is $15 for adults, $8 for children and $40 for a family of four. It is open every day between 10am-5pm. Maps are provided.
Queenscliff-Sorrento Car Ferry leaves on the hour every hour between 7am-6pm. Costs for foot passengers one way are $9 for adults and $7 for children 5-15 years, one way. Costs with vehicle vary, but as a guide, a one-way trip in the standard season for a sedan, two adults and two children is $68. You can hop and off at Queenscliff Harbour and the Sorrento Pier.
Scotchmans Hill cellar door is open every day between 10.30am-4.30pm. There is a tasting fee of $5 which is refundable on wine purchases.
Virgin Blue has flights to Melbourne.
One-way fare from;
- Adelaide, $89
- Sydney, $109
- Brisbane, $149
- Darwin, $169
- Perth, $229
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the net. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at February 21, 2008 and are subject to change.
Prices correct February 21, 2008.
For more information
Ph: 131 779
15 Shoreham Road
Ph: (03) 5989 8387
Fax: (03) 5989 8700
Queenscliff- Sorrento Car Ferry
Ph: (03) 5258 3244
Fax: (03) 5258 1877
The Ol'Duke Hotel
40 Newcombe Street
Ph: (03) 5259 1250
Fax: (03) 5259 1237
190 Scotchmans Road
Ph: (03) 5251 3176
Fax: (03) 5253 1743
Ph: 13 6789
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