A hour or so out from the CBD lies Melbourne’s slow paced surfer summer holiday neighbour. The Mornington Peninsula, with one side being as different to the other as night and day it rivals the Yarra Valley for wineries, has natural hot springs, long beaches perfect for surfing or walking, farmlands, national parks and a coastline dotted with small picturesque towns.
Not the easiest place to explore without a car but it can be done. I have had two forays into the Peninsula which have just left me wanting more. The first one predominately spent on public transport due to my timing. The second a bit more successful as it was done by car. Our plan originally was to visit the thermal springs, both Talia and I weren’t very good at our planning and were told that without a car it was next to impossible to get there so plans changed. Subsequently, I have discovered a shuttle bus that goes two times a day from the CBD or if you prefer the public route you can get to Rye by train and bus and then it’s a 45min walk from there although it is along a main road. As this was unbeknownst to us and I still wanted to explore I started off with a train to Frankston, a stop at the beach there and then the bus down to Sorrento. It is a long haul but the 788 winds its way along the coast stopping in all the villages so it is a nice picturesque drive. We started way too late in the day and by the time we reached Sorrento it was close to the end and a Monday to boot off season so most of the cafes along the beach were closed and the shops were close behind. We walked down to the harbour and climbed up the hill to the left which looks off over the harbour. As per normal we were ruled by our stomachs so went in search of a nice meal. Through suggestions and searching we found ourselves at a local fish and chippery on the high street. They do a seafood meal deal with the catch of the week, calamari, a scallop and a crab stick. I would switch out the crab stick and calamari to have more scallops which were fat, fresh and juicy and the fish was flakey and perfectly done.
By the time dinner was done the sun was set and it was time to make the two and a bit hour trek back to Melbourne. We picked up some freshly squeezed orange juice from the local grocers to counter our deep fried dinner and headed to the bus stop all vowing next time we would start hours earlier so that we could explore the shops, the back beach and more of what Sorrento has to offer.
Foray #2 was very different. Car at the ready, I met Sarah in Caufield and we headed off early Saturday morning. Destination: Bushrangers Beach. We took the old road which takes a bit longer but there are no tolls and I was enjoyed the novelty of being in a car on a highway singing to the radio and taking in the scenery so I wasn’t going to complain. Eucalyptus and gum trees lined the roads with big Angus cows dotting the fields. Horses and sheep occasionally thrown in for good measure. You wouldn’t think you were on the same Peninsula I had visited the Monday before. Our first stop was Point Leo. Surfer’s haven and Saturday didn’t disappoint as surfers lined the shores waiting to catch a wave. Sarah spent her summers here running on the beach and working in the beachside canteen. Not a bad place to pass your summer holidays and have your first job!
From there we cut through a local golf course and made a bee line to Flinders Bakehouse where I was promised one of the best jam donuts I would ever have. Donuts in Melbourne are quite the popular treat from Krispy Kreme shops to donut vans at markets and cafes doing an array of homemade stuffed sugar donuts. I haven’t tried any of the fresh made ones yet and this one hit point! Firstly, it was massive and stuffed to the brim with rich strawberry jam which oozed out of the middle when you bit into it making it all together an ungrateful endeavour. Secondly, the outside was crispy and rolled in cinnamon sugar making it taste like a fatter fluffier beaver tail with jam. I can only imagine what they taste like when they are directly out of the fryer and warm!
Our half day adventure ended with a walk to walk off our donut, although I feel it might not have completely done the trick. Bushrangers beach is about a 30-40 min walk from the car park through forests covered in vines, our path criss crossed with animal trails. If you have the time you can carry on past the beach to xx an extra 3km walk which goes out to the points end and a light house. It is next on my list. We unfortunately didn’t have the time and ended it at the beach but it wasn’t a loss. The beach, while not fit for swimming due to the currents and the waves, is stunning and you can walk around the cliffs along the beach or dip your toes into the water which was frigid that day and if you are like me and love just watching the waves crash you will be happy out.
I put my sand covered feet back into my shoes, leggings slightly wet from getting surprised by waves and headed back to reality feeling a bit more refreshed and already planning the next trip down to Mornington Peninsula by car or public transport.