Mornington Peninsula- A Slice of the Mediterranean
Just 100 kilometres south of Melbourne lies the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, a region whose sunny beaches, temperate climate and love of fine cuisine would not be amiss in the south of France or on the Italian Riviera. In fact as you drive past the cliff side mansions, the green gardens and the fertile vineyards you cannot help but wonder if you are still in Australia or somehow have been transported to a holiday hot spot somewhere in the Mediterranean. Thats the effect of Mornington- it makes you feel a million miles away from your everyday lives, and the more time you spend here the more relaxed and refreshed you become!

One of the highlights of a holiday on the Peninsula are the beaches. The best thing about them is the range- there is everything from secluded and isolated bays with calm waters to ocean facing beaches whose crashing waves attract surfers from all over the world. The beaches on the northern shores of the coastline all face Port Philip Bay, and are protected from the ocean waves. This makes them especially popular amongst families, especially as most of the beaches are lifeguard patrolled. Safety Beach has a popular foreshore reserve and a children's playground, and in Mt. Eliza there are a number of small, sandy bay beaches.

The beaches at the southern end of Mornington facing the Bass Strait are more adventurous, and here is where the surfers come in their droves to take on the ocean swell. Other adventure sports are popular too, and canoeists, paddle skiers and kite surfers can be found here on any given day. The Sorrento Ocean Beach and the Portsea Surf Beach are two of the most popular, and are lifeguard patrolled in the summer. Picnic and barbeque facilities help make your day out there a pleasant one!

The Peninsula is not just about its beaches and its coastline. Its fertile hinterland is a lush and flourishing region of olive groves, vineyeards and farms- this is serious food and wine country! There are over 50 wineries on the Peninsula, and a driving tour through the hinterland will bring you into contact with many of them. Stop in at the various cellar doors and sample the local produce, and enjoy the fine fare at the restaurants many wineries have on site. Most of the produce you will eat is local, and its a good idea to take a picnic basket which you can fill with fresh fruit and vegetables at farms along the way. There are a number of small towns in the hinterland, with Redhill being the central village. Arthurs Seat is defintiely worth a visit too, as it has a fantastic lookout and sensational bushwalks.

If golf is your game then you will be in heaven in the Mornington Peninsula. The region is fast becoming known as a golfer's paradise, a reputation boosted by the 18 courses here that take advantage of the naturally suited terrain. The relaxed country atmosphere is complemented by the stunning vistas that will greet you on your way around the course, and the fast draining sandy soils mean you can play golf all year round. Many of the courses have accommodation on site as well, so you can stay where you play, and all of them have sumptuous clubhouses to quench your thirst in after a few holes.

The Peninsula is also rich in history, having been the first point of Victorian settlement way back in 1803. Point Nepean is a favourite amongst history buffs because of the large military fortificaions built there. Throughout Mornington the galleries and antique stores will help you find those special souvenirs or trinkets for your home, and you will notice much of the arts and crafts is local in origin- indicative of the vast heritage of the region.

There really is something for everyone here, and no matter what your age or your interests a holiday to the Mornington Peninsula will leave you fulfilled and satisfied. With so much to see and explore you can't go wrong with a hirecar from Rent New Cars, which is your ticket to exploring the region in comfort and style. Just a short drive away from Melbourne down the Nepean Highway, this Mediterranean hideaway is an easily accessible tourist destination, but be warned- you will not be able to drag yourself away easily!

Gavin Wyatt