My favourite places to visit on the Mornington Peninsula
Well, this was a long time coming. Having lived on the Mornington Peninsula for nearly thirty years, I most definitely have some thoughts on the best things to do in my region. The Mornington Peninsula is becoming a really popular spot for holidays and weekend getaways, and this is no surprise to me. I've always thought it to be particularly special. I get a lot of emails asking for recommendations on where to eat in my region, so I thought it was high time I put them all in one post. This is a personal post, for sure. I'm showing you my peninsula, my favourite spots for coffee, breakfast, bread, cakes and wine. I still have a lot to discover, and you won't find some of the popular tourist spots here because I have either never been, or have been on occasion and find them too busy or they just don't feel like my peninsula. The following is what makes me happy in my hood.
When I think of the Mornington Peninsula I think of lush grass, dirt roads, the bridle track, heavy tree cover and red mud. I think of Red Hill. Red Hill is home.
♥ I grew up going to the Red Hill Market to visit my grandparents who had a stall selling home-crafted cards and pin cushions. My nana is the definition of crafty. I am not. I am, however, good at eating. It used to be fudge and corn on the cob, these days it's Red Hill Cheese, Red Hill Muesli and Flinders Sourdough (which I'll get to later).
♥ Mock Red Hill is a family-run, biodynamic orchard, and they make my most favourite (dry) cider. Their sparkling apple juice is the stuff of dreams. Visit for a tasting, buy your favourites and also some apples.
♥ Foxeys Hangout is my favourite small winery for a casual and classy lunch. Go with a group and share some plates with a glass or bottle of their great sparkling wine.
♥ Ben adores Eldridge Estate's pinot noir varieties, and this winery has my personal favourite view in Red Hill. We love coming here for an incredibly unpretentious tasting.
♥ Wander the sculpture garden at Montalto and try their lovely wine. Maybe have a picnic! I used to work in the piazza at Montalto and would help set-up the picnics, dreaming of how perfect the spots were for a lazy day or maybe a proposal. Even if you're just proposing to eat more cheese.
♥ Johnny Ripe is a real gem. They make some of my favourite things - divine apple pies (in family or individual serves), stunning creme brulee tarts and other pastries, really yummy savoury pies, sausage rolls and tarts. Their doughnuts are always in my thoughts and often in my dreams. Johnny Ripe are open for takeaway treats, and whenever I visit I stock up on pies for our freezer and doughnuts for my immediate face.
♥ Green Olive make divine olive oil.
♥ Red Hill Brewery make really great, unique beer that even pleases non-beer drinkers (because it's so darn tasty). Their golden ale is my favourite, though come the festive season I love their Christmas ale. We had their beer at our wedding and were pretty chuffed to be sharing this local brand.
♥ Ten Minutes by Tractor is an incredibly elegant restaurant that is well-praised. I believe that praise to be spot on. Book in advance for a special occasion and enjoy the smooth brilliance.
♥ The Red Hill Cellar and Pantry is my parents' local supermarket. Mum and I tend to go when we need to quickly grab some cheese or more nuts for whatever cake we're baking. They also stock Rickett's Point ice-cream, one of my very favourites. We had the honey and ginger variety at our wedding. It's a dream.
♥ Another great market is the Emu Plains market, which has been revived after a long break. Back in the day it'd remind me of visiting my grandparents and eating egg and bacon rolls...good times. Now it's a bit more hipster but that's cool. Those hispters know their stuff.
♥ Somers General Store is a sweet cafe and store by the beach. I love to wander the store, which is filled with treats and gifts you can buy, including hand-blown glass by owner and artist Leisa Wharington (we have quite a few of Leisa's pieces, from vases to bowls to little birds. They make exquisite wedding gifts). Have a meal, a browse and then walk along the beach. You'll feel very happy. UPDATE: Leisa no longer owns the store and I haven't visited for a while so I'm not sure if it's similarly wonderful.
♥ Merricks General Store is another great spot for breakfast or lunch. Have a wine tasting and check out the gallery next door.
♥ We used to live a short walk from Coolart Homestead, an historic property that feels a little like Downton Abbey (though a tad less grand). We'd often start our weekend with a morning wander/frolic in the leaves.
♥ My very favourite beach on the peninsula is Shoreham beach. It's surrounded by pines and is often quite seaweedy, but it's special to me. This is the beach I'd go after school during Summer and eat BBQ shapes. This is the beach my friend Amy and I would walk down to on weekends. This is the beach where my family have gathered because it reminds us of my brother. This is my favourite beach.
♥ Flinders Sourdough make the bread of my dreams (of many people's dreams). David and Margaret craft superb sourdough loaves with great skill, intention and knowledge, using quality produce (including organic, stoneground flour). Every loaf is great, don't make me choose between their cob, olive or dark rye. Just don't. Oh, and their sweet, fruity beach buns? Delicious.
♥ Stop by Flinders Shed for a piece of clothing or such that is well-crafted, unique and incredibly gorgeous.
♥ Just on from Flinders, towards Cape Shank, is Bushrangers Bay. This is our spot for when we want a gentle hike. A hike to a secluded, gorgeous beach, no less. It's green, it's nature, it's everything I need.
♥ Dee's Kitchen host a number of dishes I am addicted to. Let's list them, shall we? Paprika chips (using kipfler potatoes and smoked paprika), falafels with spiced carrot dip (there are no words) and homemade pitta, and smashed roasted pumpkin and potato with grilled peppers and poached eggs. And sometimes it's just about getting the closest croissant... UPDATE: this is now called Pier St kitchen, however the menu remains similar.
♥ Oh, how lucky we are to have Provincia in our hood. This store serves a whole manner of produce, with a focus on quality Italian goods like salami (their hot one is insanely good) and cheeses, imported oils, dried pastas and biscuits (Panettone at festive times), local breads and meat, as well as your fruit, vegetable and dairy needs. They stock everything from pantry staples to ice-cream, olives and Chinotto, and sell Italian doughnuts and coffee for all your breakfast needs. It is, quite seriously, the best place. UPDATE: we no longer live in Safety Beach and haven't visited Provincia for a while. I do miss ready access to cheese and cured meats.
♥ The drive from Safety Beach to Mt Martha is one of my most favourite. There are lots of spots to pull over and wander, exploring coves and secret swimming holes.
There are many places to eat in Mornington, and they change often! Businesses tend to come and go, but here is where I invariably end up.
♥ Commonfolk serve great coffee in a space that is the opposite of suffocating.
♥ Store Fifteen serve delicious almond milk lattes (regular lattes too), freshly pressed juice and smoothies, as well as raw treats.
♥ D.O.C. for pizza and a glass of wine. Though dad makes the best pizza, I am always pleased at D.O.C. Their grocery section is fab too.
♥ Marco Polo is our local Afghani restaurant. That's right, authentic Afghani food on the (predominentely white) Mornington Peninsula. How great is that? I go mad for their lamb with rice. The rice has grated carrot, almonds and sultanas throughout it. Get the banquet, do it. This is really one of our very favourites.
♥ Yo My Goodness, for frozen yoghurt. I'm so pleased this fad has stayed put. I'll take some coconut, tart natural, and maybe a little chai. Thanks. They also serve really delicious burgers here!
♥ Tulsi is a fantastic Indian restaurant in Sommervile that we adore.
♥ Be sure to visit Mt Eliza's Ritchies. Seriously, it's a playground, a delicious playground.
♥ Shop Ate. Grab a seat at Guy Mirabella's cafe for delicious porridge, cakes, pastas dishes, pies, salads, soups and a particularly captivating chicken schnitzel roll.
♥ Oyama 24 is a fantastic Japanese spot behind the Woolworths carpark in Mt Eliza.
♥ There's also a lot of good walking spots around Mt Eliza towards the beach. From Canadian Bay to....other bays. I don't know, I just remember walking down to the beach from school (I went to school in Mt Eliza) with friends. I was more interested in the big houses than the street names. But really, just wander. You'll find serenity (and maybe a few dogs).
Sorry for not including any Rye, Sorrento or Portsea recommendations, but the truth is I don't know those areas very well. The same goes for accommodation recommendations. Love The Pen is a great resource, so check that out. And feel free to leave comments and suggestions below. Do come visit my corner of the world. It's fresh and lush and tastes like grapes and cheese and looks like this...